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Pop Restaurant Renaissance in Hardware Lane

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Pop Restaurant in Hardware Lane has undergone a rennaisance with addition of Executive Head Chef Manuel Villegas, a new team and an impressive new menu featuring Spanish and Italian cuisine.

With years of history including an art gallery, Pop Restaurant offers a stunning ambience in Hardware Lane. Come here for breakfast, lunch or dinner and Pop Restaurant (and Hardware Lane) pulsates with atmosphere. Musicians performing at night add to the ambience in the Lane.

Manager Greg Mahoney has been a restaurateur for many years and is passionate about providing a great experience for diners. With the advent of Manuel Villegas, one of Australia's best chefs, and a menu which highlights Mediterranean cusine rather than just Italian, we were keen to sample and experience the changes at Pop Restaurant.

We arrived on day one of the new Pop menu. Normally we allow restaurants to settle in where there's major changes, but the team at Pop were at the top of their game.

Pop Restaurant offers superb tapas, mains, specials, paellas, cheese and jamon selections, pasta and risotto, quality grain fed steaks and sublime desserts. Breakfast/brunch is available from 10.30am and includes Big Breakfast, Vegie Big Breakfast, Sweet Tooth options and Foccacia's.

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Small plates, superb wine and great company is the best way to enjoy a meal. And there's no better place to enjoy a meal than Hardware Lane. Pop Restaurant is right in the heart of Hardware Lane. Diners can enjoy large mains or shared meals and the action of the Lane, or imbibe at a table inside the chic restaurant. How good is this place at night!

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The tapas at Pop Restaurant is first class with Villegas the "king of tapas". We started with Oysters followed by this Spanish Prosciutto on toast... Pop uses quality ingredients throughout their menu. This dish hit the mark with quality prosciutto and crunch of the toast. 

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A highlight at Pop was the Lobster and Cherry Tomato Risotto - a delighfully indulgent dish with creamy richness and hit of lobster, portobello mushrooms, lemon thyme butter and the fresh cherry tomatoes (cutting through the richness). One hell of a risotto!

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Another highlight at Pop Restaurant was The Italian Antipasto Platter. Wow. The delightful Arancini De Riso with Peas, Mozzarella and Aoli was crisp on the outside and creamy inside with stunning filling. The Eggplant Roll was just about the winner of the night with goats cheese and pancetta. We all groaned as we ate it - again rich and indulgent with big flavours. Surely tapas should have big flavour hits. The Pesto Genovese and Sweet Sour Onion was another big flavour hit, the herbs balancing with the goats cheese. You need to check this out when you visit Pop...

The Bruschetta with Balsamic Reduction featured dried tomato, garlic, red onion, basil and bocconcini - absolutely superb and great presentation. The Scallop Capasnia was a perfectly cooked scallop with bacon and parmesan.

Again the overall balance of the Italian Antipasto Platter was sublime and presentation first class. The Eggplant Roll had us talking for some time... 

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We also enjoyed the Spanish Tapas Platter with Manuel Villegas' masterful touch. The Pulpo (Octopus) A La Gallega was superb with smoke paprika oil. The piquant flavour went well with the Fresh Tuna Sashimi featuring a zesty apple vinaigrette and carrot air.

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The Spanish Tapas Platter also featured Smoke Mussels with fresh lemon sauce and croutons (loved this smoky flavour). Then there was outstanding Cantabrico Toast with red and white anchovies and romesco and aoli sauces. The Cantabrico Toast was memorable with salty anchovies, punch of sauce and crunch of toast - a killer combination.

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Pop Restaurant also has great desserts including the best churros we've ever had. Villegas makes these churros fresh and the chocolate is expensive 64 callebaut Belgian chocolate. Again we were moaning as we enjoyed these delectable treats.

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Pop Restaurant has a cool bar area upstairs and function room. We enjoyed a couple of cocktails in this bar lazing on the chesterfields. Pop often host a comedy night on Thurday nights, a popular event. 

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Greg Mahoney Manager (left), Manuel Villegas (Executive Head Chef) and The World Loves Melbourne team pictured above... We enjoyed a great night at Pop Restaurant.

Service was excellent with front of house and wait staff professional and engaging.

Pop Restaurant was a superb Meditteranean dining experience. The food is fresh, with bold flavours and excellent presentation. With new Executive Chef and new team Pop Restaurant is well worth a visit. Highly recommended.

Pop Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tagged in: Italian Spanish
David Hagger is a bald headed man with a penchant for finery, convivial dining, and festive culture. He honestly believes Melbourne is an impressive global city.

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Guest Friday, 28 November 2014