The combined meat and cheese board… features a juniper berry salami and traditional-style Italian hot coppa, artisan crackers, raisins and nuts. Photo supplied.

Like many in hospitality, The Pop Inn went digital, launching an online shop and delivering wine during shutdown. Now the team is re-energised and back,” says dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON

A BIRTHDAY in hospitality after coping with bushfires and covid is cause for celebration, so pop-up bar The Pop Inn planned a party to toast turning four.

Wendy Johnson.

Owner Kimberley Ohayon counts her blessings that she maintained a core team of faithful staff and spent her downtime taking The Pop Inn to the next level.

“We did some serious soul searching, unsure how long we would be closed,” says Kimberley.

Like many in hospitality, The Pop Inn went digital, launching an online shop and delivering wine during shutdown. Now the team is re-energised and back. 

Devotion to working with local suppliers remains, with The Pop Inn sourcing meats from Balzanelli Smallgoods, a family-owned business that has been manufacturing since 1979. The Pop Inn also works with Mart Deli, Fyshwick Markets, to source quality cheeses. Local and regional wines are on the menu, as is a gin from award-winning Canberra Distillery.

The party weekend kicked off on a hot, sunny afternoon which motivated us to try the refreshing, blood-orange gin (no preservatives, additives or artificial flavours). It was divine.

Newbies on the wine list include a 2019 Rouge Clair from Canberra District’s Sholto Wines, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot and berries. Also new is the 2019 Maya and Max chardonnay, a crisp wine from Ross Hill Wines in Orange ($14 glass/$56 bottle).

“To make the list more accessible, we’ve incorporated wines from regions people might not get to as often, like Rutherglen and Beechworth,” says Kimberley. 

The Pop Inn takes its food as seriously as it does its drink.

Cheese boards are available ($23). The Tarago River Cheese Company’s Shadows of Blue is a decadent, double-cream blue cheese that’s super soft and creamy. We found the buttery Crémeux D’Argental equally indulgent. This lush, silky-soft cheese has a white mould rind. We adored the Queso Al Romero, a sheep’s milk cheese rubbed with a rosemary rind.

The combined meat and cheese board ($33) featured a juniper berry salami and traditional-style Italian hot coppa. Both boards come with artisan crackers, raisins and nuts.

Although still young, The Pop Inn has made many long-lasting memories.

“Babies we met when we first opened are now four-year-olds running about,” says Kimberley.

“We’ve developed a strong community vibe and people who met at The Pop Inn have formed great friendships.”

Other changes include more consistent live music. Work is underway on a wine collaboration and working as exhibition partner for Australian Love Stories (National Portrait Gallery). And Kimberley is sussing out new locations, aside from established ones like Haig Park, The Carillon, Queen Elizabeth Terrace and Bowen Park. 

The Pop Inn is card-only. Head to thepopinn.com to see what pops up next.

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