Revolver, Revs, Revolting… whatever you call it, Revolver Upstairs is as Melbourne as dim sims and hook turns. I’ve lost more hours than I can count, or certainly remember, in its dark and sticky environs dancing away to Boogs and Spacey Space on a Sunday morning, surrounded by people for who sleep is but a distant memory and the only meal they’ve eaten in the last two days is the inside of their mouth. It’s certainly not an image that conjures up the thought – yeah, that’s were I’d like to pop into for some delicious Thai food sometime, but if you don’t, you’re missing out.
Colonel Tan’s was created by Karen Batson of Cookie and The Toff in Town. It’s named after Revolver co-owner and Thai pop star Tan Punturaumporn, with the Colonel ranking being a reference to the five spice chicken specialty and it’s Southern American cousin.
The stairs leading up to Colonel Tan’s are a decent workout, and I’ve seen plenty of people struggle to navigate them, but that’s mainly on the way down after 15 hours dancing inside. The inside of the venue is lowly lit with a myriad of aging lampshades and chandeliers, and is littered with 80’s video game machines and old couches with an appetite for mobile phones and wallets. The kitsch floral vinyl tablecloth clad tables are set out at the far end of the room near the utilitarian bar. The walls (and ceiling) are an absolute joy at Revolver Upstairs. They are full of artworks from brilliant artists and are always evolving. Banksy and Shepard Fairey feature prominently among them, with works from prior to their global fame. The more attention you pay the more fascinating art work you will find.
The food menu is quite extensive, but if you don’t like spicy food then you may be restricted a little. The drinks menu is also very extensive and it’s nice to be able to order these from your table rather than fight your way to the front of the bar with sweaty patrons queued five deep as is the case on a weekend. Fruit infused water is also provided. We ordered a couple of baskets of the requisite Colonel’s five spice chicken, and betel leaf salad with snapper, peanuts, ginger, chilli and lime to start with. The chicken kicks arse. Or it would do if it’s legs weren’t amputated and deep-fried in a beautifully spiced and crispy coating. It’s a definite winner when compared to that of the more famous Colonel. Make sure you get at least one basket of this when you visit. The betel leaf salad is a DIY dish where you wrap the snapper filling into a betel leaf. It’s a cracking dish but be warned, it has some serious chilli kick. You’ll be heading for a serviette or two after knocking back these two finger food dishes, the salad can be particularly sticky.
For mains we ordered Penang lamb curry, stir fried tumeric chicken, Pad Thai eggnet and stir fried red curry pork to share between the five of us. The lamb and the pork were particularly good, with nice juicy pork belly chunks in the red curry and plenty of chilli kick in the lamb. We were all close to letting out the belt a notch at the end of it, and the best bit, since Thursday is locals night, it’s half price for anybody with a 3181 post code or a Revolver membership. Eight dishes of food ended up costing us less than $15 each.
There are two dinner sittings per evening, one at 6pm and one at 8pm, and it’s closed on Sundays and Mondays. If you turn up on a Sunday you’re in for a whole different sort of evening. Bookings are recommended for Thursdays.
Do yourself a favour – forget about the boozy nights and days where you ended up in Revolver and promised yourself you’d never return… and return. Return for the food.
Note: Most of the photos are not mine – it’s so dark in there the iPhone doesn’t really cut the mustard.