Late-night venues are hard to find these days, but Collingwood’s new edition to Smith Street is one to add to the list. Mr Scruff’s is the complete antithesis to any other bar in the area: it’s not a bandroom, there’s no reference to the prohibition and it doesn’t specialise in any particular spirit. It’s just a solid bar where you can leave your judgement at the door and drink until the early morning.
Mr Scruff’s has an urban feel with street-art on the walls, a hip-hop, neo-soul and R&B soundtrack, and nightly DJs “playing beats.” The crowds are mixed; you’ve got the skinny-jean hipsters next to the baggy-jeaned skaters going for rounds of beer and glasses of mulled wine in the courtyard out back before the groups of whoo-girls come in to shake their thing on the mezzanine floor in the evenings.
The drinks are pretty basic, but the staff can knock up a decent cocktail if you’re not part of the rum-and-coke contingent or the vodka-soda crew. It’s bar service, but the bartenders are willing to navigate through the crowds to bring you your order if it takes longer than a few seconds to pour. Their Bloody Marys are ones to behold – they make one with no spice (called a 1920); some spice with a garnish of crunchy bacon (Jalapeno); and a lot of spice in a pimped-up Mary with pickle juice, horseradish, Tabasco, cornichons and olives (Mr Mister).
Mr Scruff’s opens at midday, so they’ve got the food front sorted. There is no particular cuisine, just egalitarian drink-friendly snacks, bites and meals that cater for the carnivorous, gluten-intolerant and vegetarians. Think edamame with chilli salt, pork scratchings with sage, confit lamb ribs with a smoked almond salsa, poutine, burgers, tacos and cheese kranskys. The most expensive thing on the menu is $11. Dope.
It’s all good if you want a place to chill in the afternoon and meet up with mates, but be prepared for the shift in mood once it hits midnight: Mr Scruff’s is up to get down.