Sneak Peek: Playground (It’s a Bar!)

by The Editor

Like chalk on a blackboard at school

Walking through Garema Place over the last few months it has become increasingly evident a new venue is on the way. Firstly there were the wooden hoardings, somewhere between Honkytonks and Academy in a part of town increasingly Melbourne-esque. Then the spray paint arrived, announcing that ‘playtime’ coming soon, a Facebook page and little else. Finally the façade was painted black and something like a logo appeared.

Playground, huh? What exactly do they mean?

Well, we can tell you a little, but not too much. The Canberran was lucky enough to be offered a sneak peak last week, so we made our way past the witches hats and barricades to check it out. Owners Ant and Nino were inside to greet us (Illya – the third amigo – was off attending to other business), putting the finishing touches to the bar area.

What we’re looking at is exactly what they say on the door – this is a place for eating and drinking, but in a more refined and serious manner than other establishments nearby. Feel like a cocktail? Well, you can have a martini, and a martini only. There’ll be a pretty serious international and local wine selection, and the beer and cider lists aims to step on the wild side.

Good food? Things certainly look promising. A full kitchen set-up will offer plates to share. In the true spirit of tapas there are no entrees or mains, rather the idea to come in, settle at a table and let your palate wander. We were informed that dessert will also be offered to share, though some may struggle with the prospect of sharing.

The finishes have a very natural feel, with wood, marble, brick and (artificial) grass decorating the bar side of the venue. It’s a sprawling affair, with materials overlapping or petering out gently. Opposite, a clean, white wall featuring the silhouette of a tree offers a stark contrast. Not too stark though; a clever little lighting effect (and we can’t say too much) adds a kinetic aspect to wall. It’s all quite playful, really.

Even the coffee is getting some special loving. Jarrod Deaton of Two Before Ten Café is supplying the beans fresh from his own roaster. Takeaways will be available for the addicted.

Down toward the back of the venue the space narrows as the services encroach on the space. To the left, just past the bar is the kitchen, framed with box windows offering a glimpse to the workings inside. More discreet are the bathrooms that hide behind a large mural. The wallpaper inside is truly spectacular, and no doubt of particular fascination to anyone venturing past a third martini.

All in all this looks like an exciting venue that aims to find its own identity within the surrounding environment. By complimenting rather than competing with venue owners in the savvy side of Civic, Playground may prove a fitting place for the little kid in all of us… Stay tuned to The Canberran blog and Twitter account (@TheCanberran) next week for details of an official opening date.

Anyone keen for hopscotch in heels?