Hoppers and cocktails, together at last. Sri Lankan restaurant Araliya has drawn crowds to its Hawthorn and St Kilda venues for 35 years, and now its spacious Fitzroy Street location welcomes Mrs Hopper, a cocktail den helmed by Asher Spitz (ex-Cookie) and Ryan Agar, where you can get Sri Lanka's lacy bowl-shaped pancakes and tropical drinks.
The place is decked out smartly: natural timber table tops, matte black chairs, neon lights, plants. The cocktail and wine lists are concise, and like the food offerings, change with the seasons. That might mean an el campo del cielo (rum, Triple Sec and mango) followed by fish empanadas and a fragrant chicken molee – a cardamom-heavy curry.
Menus between the bar and restaurant will be interchangeable with a focus on freshness across the board.
Agar says, "There's an impression that Asian food is monochrome brown. Sri Lankan food is a lot fresher than that."
Almost everything can or should be accompanied by a plain, string or egg hopper. There is also a small selection of Melbourne craft beers and top-shelf spirits. A perpetual "happy hour" menu includes $9 rotating by-the-glass wines and, just in time for spring, the Sri Lankan mule, a highball featuring arak, ginger beer and fresh lime.
Open Mon-Thu 5pm-late, Fri-Sun noon-1am.
157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, mrs-hopper.com.au