Sitting pretty amongst Victoria Street's hefty pho contingent, the newly unveiled Holla is something of a black sheep — an eatery where you'll find zucchini flower salads and lemon myrtle cocktails, instead of noodles and bright plastic chairs.
It's one of those hard-to-nail, all-day operations, with brunch on offer between 7am and 3pm, dinner service between 6-11pm and drinks whenever you please. And though it's never an easy task to straddle that daytime-nighttime divide, the space here handles it well; the long lines, black tiles and swathes of foliage create a versatile, all-purpose aesthetic.
When the sun's up, this is your new Richmond destination for coffee, truffled scrambles ($18.50) and maybe a cheeky breakfast boulevardier ($18). After work hours, the cocktail list gets a little broader and much more creative, with gems like the basil julep ($17) and the kumquat-infused Smash Bandicoot ($18), bound to inspire many a knock-off session camped out in the back booths.
Dinnertime is when these chefs really start to flex their creative muscles though, plating up a share-friendly menu best described as modern Australian. Here, you graze your way through shared proteins, mix'n'match starters and sides, all washed down with the kind of booze offering you won't find elsewhere on the strip. Holla pours a selection of mainly Aussie wines and a trio of craft taps — but if you want to do yourself a real favour, road-test that cocktail list. The Texas in July ($19) — an old fashioned made with coconut-washed rum — is a friend you definitely want to make.
When you're hungry, kick things off with the pork belly sausage roll — an upscale version of that childhood favourite, sliced into shareable rounds and jazzed up with a bush tomato ketchup and romesco mayo ($12). A smoked duck salad is even more of a leap into adulthood, with slices of pink meat backed up by an earthy mix of baby beets, pumpkin purée and toasted hazelnuts. The whole dish livened up with a good dose of goats' cheese ($16). Larger dishes aren't huge, but offer a great excuse for going big on the ordering. A braised Cape Grim beef short rib is beautifully tender, teamed with jus and an addictive potato puree ($32), while a side of spiced cauliflower and beetroot relish contributes yet more of those earthy tones ($9).
From the long open kitchen to the artful dishes that arrive at your table, this food definitely looks the part. And while the whole thing lacks the confidence of some of those bigger name openings, it's nothing a few more weeks under the belt won't see tightened up. And if ever there was a reason to break out of your Victoria Street Viet rut, Holla is it.
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