Play Bar

Bars Surry Hills
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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A huge selection of craft beers, more records and beardy guys than you can poke a turntable at. And it’s all downstairs in a Surry Hills bunker

It’s possible that the wedge of Surry Hills fenced in by Campbell and Foster Streets sits above an ancient burial ground, but instead of being haunted by deceased malcontents it is the purvey of some seriously switched on party gods.

You’ve got the grand old dame of Sydney pubs, the Hotel Hollywood, bumping up against Tio’s, that tequila cantina of excellent repute, while Mod-Chinese canteen and wine bar Bar H faces off with Wild Rover’s cocktail, sausage roll and oyster trifecta around the bend.
The fifth tally strike on this boozy block is Play Bar. Like Wild Rover you need to be looking for it. The sleek black door beside the Greens Party offices is your target. On weekends there’s an extremely polite bouncer to point you in the right direction but otherwise, keep your eyes peeled.
What was once a basement selling discount chess sets is now an underground bar gently grooving to Black Street’s ‘No Diggity’. It’s spick and span, all polished concrete, raw brick and iron crank tables, but a flowing Beastman mural ensures it’s more warehouse party than renovated warehouse chic. DJs keep a mix of indie, hip hop, funk and soul sitting at a volume that still allows for conversation, but there’s a ring of head high speakers that suggest a quick drink could turn into an all nighter if they were to just crank it up a smidge.
If your party poison is a fruity cocktail and you aren’t afraid to show it order a Secretplay – the kiwi fruit garnish says it all. It’s a luminous pink concoction of gin, pomegranate liqueur, lime, lemon juices and sugar syrup. It’s super sweet but has a solid slug of acid to even the sugar keel. If you have visions of a bunny-suited vixen being delivered with your Playboy we are sorry to say the drink arrives centrefold free. What you do get is a mix of ten-year Glenmorangie and Laphroaig with ginger, lemon, honey and a splash of orange juice. It’s no Miss July but it’s still something to shout about.
Office night out? The big trestle tables make a great base camp for collegial shots with a beer chaser. Interestingly the local craft beers like 4 Pines, Little Creatures and Balmain Pilsner will cost you a buck more than a Peroni or a Corona, but we still say buy local. If it’s just before pay day grab a Melbourne Bitter longneck for $12, or if you’re sitting on fat stacks there’s longnecks of Chimay Grande Reserve for $36.
After-work drinks kicked on well into dinnertime? Veggos can go to town on the gumbo, and there’s an American-style ploughman with salted beef, cheddar, pickles, mustard and bread crisps. Or try a Philly cheese steak sub. Sure, it’s a $12 hot sandwich, but a soft, slightly sweet bun lined with thin, tender slices of brisket, grilled capsicum, caramelised onions, and sealed with a layer of melted cheese is a life raft for anyone hitting the aptly named Foulplay Long Island Iced Tea.
For a Surry Hills small bar there is very little room for swagger here. The staff are super friendly and if things are quiet they’ll even throw a bit of table service your way. They’ve got good beers in the fridge, great tunes on the decks and a mind to be hospitable. What more can you ask?

By: Emily Lloyd-Tait


Venue name: Play Bar
Address: 72 Campbell St
Surry Hills
Opening hours: Tue-Sat 4pm-midnight
Price: $10-$50
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