Respect: that’s what they’re selling at the Reverence. Makes sense too; the word ‘reverence’ literally means having a deep respect for something. It’s what publicans Melanie and Matt Bodiam had in mind when they took over and renamed the old Exchange Hotel in 2012. They say the name reflects the deep respect they have for their patrons – and you certainly feel the love here.
The Rev, with its bountiful bar area, beer garden and two bandrooms, is a labyrinthian maze decked out with gig posters, pool cues and tacos on Tuesdays. You’ll find every kind of west side dweller here, from tradies and punks to yuppies, and everyone in between. They’re all here toasting to the painting of Jack, the Rev’s resident black labrador/great dane, that’s hung in the front bar.
Everyone is welcome at the Rev, though those with a proclivity for vegan food and rock’n’roll fare particularly well here. Food takes a mostly Mexican tack, with tacos and nachos featuring heavily (try their particularly devilish chocolate nachos). There are pizzas and burgers but it’s the hearty burritos you should side with – served with the Rev’s legendary spicy fries, they’re packed with beans, cheese, guac, rice, salsa and sandwich pressed to crunchy perfection. Everything can be made vegetarian or vegan, and they source locally too, from Footscray Market and Vincent Vegetarian Food Mart on Barkly Street.
They run comedy nights once a month and trivia every Wednesday, which attracts huge numbers for its charismatic host and bizarre themes (in the past they’ve had conspiracy theories, British comedies and dogs). But where the Rev really shines is – funnily enough – in the darkest corner of the whole establishment: the backyard bandroom. Its doors are open to a staggering variety of local, national and international acts, serving anything from tango to trance – though grungy rock dogs are their bread and butter. The room is a decent size, with a bar to the right and a small amount of seating to the left. You’re close to the action too; close enough to see the sweat drip or land a flick of spit right in the eye.
But don’t let that deter you. Wear it with pride. This is one of the last great suburban pubs gutsy enough to adapt with the times. They’ll welcome you no matter your persuasion, saddle you up with a pint and ease you into the weekend.