There was a wildly successful TV show last century called Cheers – the bar where everyone knew your name.
The bar in the show was a hit because of the intimacy. Customers got what they wanted in a place that felt like home without being at home. It was a place to escape work-related trivia and pointless small talk.
That’s the atmosphere I find at Mojo by Luke Mangan on Danks St, Waterloo.
Even the sign has a ‘friendly ’50s’ neon charm.
My wonderful friend Belinda Rolland fell in love with the place the first time I invited her to check it out.
She’s a professional photographer and remembers when the converted warehouse use to be the place to go and get film printed.
She likes a Scotch & Soda. I have a weakness for anonymous French Reds – I like not knowing what they are sometimes. A little bit of mystery goes a long way 😉
Now, the warehouse houses wares Luke Mangan sells to other establishments. So it’s all open and grungy and cool because it’s not trying to be. The sound doesn’t bounce like the bad acoustics of so many renovated pubs and bars. The music is the right level to chat and laugh and move in your seat to the beat all at the same time.
They’re like an outpost of the United Nations. No two accents are the same and they are rich with quips and anecdotes. They operate as a relaxed team, almost like they’re living the lyrics of John Lennon‘s song Imagine.
And they’re familiar – same faces – like they don’t do shifts – they’re just there – all the time. I feel as comfy at the bar as Jack Nicholson in the The Shining – without being bat-shit crazy.
It sounds like a wank to say everything is great but the truth is – I haven’t had a bad item from the changing menu in the half dozen times I’ve been here. Most dishes are designed to share, between entrée and main size, with mid-sized prices ranging from $5 to $19.
The fish tacos are elevated from a fast food into something sublime to be slowly savoured.
I went a bit nuts taking photos of the fleshy Raw Kingfish with Ginger Shallots & Persian Fetta.
And the Churros Caramel & Ice Cream Sandwich with Salted Peanuts is the penthouse of desserts. It rarely gets better than this.
Mojo is a place to eat and drink right there at the bar, have a quiet chat or a loud dinner with loads of height and space to laugh and forget all about time – except having a good time.
(I have to leave 1 point so Luke Mangan can have a crack at bettering what he’s achieved here. Good luck.)