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17° & PARTLY CLOUDY ON SATURDAY 21 APRIL IN MELBOURNE
By Lauren Vadnjal
July 25, 2013
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GoGo Bar

More than just a stopover on the way to Thai food heaven, Chin Chin's moody basement bar is the only destination you need.
By Lauren Vadnjal
July 25, 2013
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BOOK A TABLE

Lonely for you only might be a sad sentiment for those leaving alone at the end of the night, but, for the most part, the highly photographed neon sign at GoGo is as iconic as the bunny upstairs. Giving the bar its deep red glow, the sign is imperative not just to its recognisability, but also to the moodiness of the den-like venue. It seems to enjoy its status as the dark horse — sitting underneath the bright and bustling Chin Chin, it's become an unassuming mainstay within the Chris Lucas empire.

Securing a seat at the in-demand Thai diner became decidedly more endurable with the addition of the basement bar, but GoGo has proven to be more than just a holding room for those desperate for a table at the restaurant upstairs. If you want some pork on your fork (as they say) without joining the perpetual post-5pm queue snaking out of the main entry, duck around to Higsons Lane and descend into the darkness directly.

It makes sense that the interior is deep, dark and sexy — an inversion its famous upstairs tenant. The long, communal tables serve the after-work crowd, couples occupy smaller tables towards back, and rounded booths — if you can get one — squeeze in bigger groups. The exposed lighting gives just enough light for you to study the pages of the 'Little Black Book'.

Perhaps not as scandalous, but definitely as engrossing, this black book lists cocktails according to season — choose something fresh, crisp and fruity for summer, or rich, warm and spiced for winter. The Far East Side (gin, kaffir lime, fresh pressed lemon and palm sugar with a floating Thai basil leaf; $16.50) has a kick like no other, and a jug of V. M. Punch (vodka, Vietnamese mint, kaffir lime limoncello, fresh lemon, club soda; $35) is perfect for two. There's also a selection of local and international wine, beer, cider and sake.

There is no time spent lamenting the clinking of cutlery upstairs as GoGo offers a taste of Chin Chin without the wait, or the formalities. The bar menu incorporates the best from the coveted hawker-style Thai menu and recreates it as easy-to-eat snack food — no need to look past the pulled pork sliders ($8.50 each). Indeed, some of the larger options, such as the Chinook salmon wrapped in banana leaf ($26), are meals in themselves and can even be topped off with dessert, including the palm sugar ice cream sundae with salted honeycomb and lime syrup ($14) everyone's eating upstairs.

Capitalising on being mere metres from one of the best kitchens in town, GoGo is slowly becoming more than a stopover for those desperate for a table at Chin Chin. Its impressive fusion of gourmet bar food, cocktails and that neon sign have made GoGo a bar worth visiting in its own right.

Images by Lois Romer.

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