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A peek at Playground

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I remember, at age 12, thinking I’d feel really grown up at 15. When I was 15, I figured it would happen at 18. Now, I’m 39 and I’m still waiting. Although I have a grown up job with adult responsibilities and little ones of my own, most of the time I’m still a kid in my head…

It’s this juxtaposition between the inner child and the public adult that is at the heart of new Canberra hotspot, Playground. A martini and tapas bar, it is equal parts playful and sophisticated, and quite different to any other current Capital offering.

What’s most impressive is the commitment that owners, Ant, Illya and Nino, have shown to bringing the Playground concept to life. At its heart is the idea that there are two sides to every adult – the child and the grown up – and this is faithfully reflected in the fitout. Stand at the full length glass front doors and look down the length of the space, and you’ll see the ‘young’ on the left – all natural textures and bright contrasts; on the right, clean lines and polished finishes reflect a more grown up taste.

Ant, Illya and Nino’s vision was to create a playful, childlike yet classy, environment in which to enjoy high end food and drink. Influenced by Melbourne and Sydney’s great little tapas bars, the boys wanted to bring a similar experience to Canberra – one that would deliver personality and character but with a high level of service and product.

Playground will offer an intimate martini list, which will change regularly, plus a range of predominantly craft beers and ciders, and an international wine list boasting around 50 drops available by the glass. And caffiends will be excited to learn the coffee is roasted and supplied by Two Before Ten.

On the food side, it’s all about the tapas (one of the Playground rules is ‘learn to share’!) Head Chef Joel Miller has an impressive pedigree, with experience in the kitchens of Courgette and Aria, and has designed a menu which spans the traditional to the contemporary. Ant says Playground will aim to challenge its patrons to try something a little different to their usual, and this reflected in his pick of the current food offerings – a Roasted Beetroot, Goats Cheese and Mascarpone Tart

The owners believe it’s “important to deliver an experience” and their attention to detail in delivering on this extends to their people. Playground staff will wear uniforms conceived by fashion designer, Belinda Armstrong – think bright chinos (red for girls, blue for boys), white emblematic tees, and Dunlop Volleys. Female staff will sport red lips in the exact shade as their pants. It’s all in keeping with the young, fresh vibe.

While the proof will be in the pudding when Playground opens later this week, the bar looks set to be an exciting and welcome addition to Garema Place, which is finally starting to get its mojo back.  If these sneak peek images intrigue, be sure to hotfoot it down when doors open, and play nice kiddies!

 

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8 Responses to A peek at Playground

Roslyn says: 18 June, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Looks like it will be fun – and I am all for competition when it comes to bars and coffee shops, it keeps the standards high. BTW – love, love, love the new look.

Bethany says: 20 June, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I can’t wait for it to open! Playground will breathe a new lease of life life into Garema Place, it will be exciting to have another cool and fun place to hang out! Can’t wait to try the food and martinis!

Alice says: 4 July, 2012 at 10:20 am

I had such a bad experience both times I went to Playground. The only good things were Ben behind the bar and the girls serving, who were really helpful.

I went there last Friday and the manager was standing on the door talking to some people. I went to open the door and he shut it right in front of me and said they were at capacity, even though I have seen it far more crowded, and I said I just wanted to go in to say hi to someone and not buy a drink and he said it didn’t matter, and I said ‘I just wanted to say hello, I promise’ and he blocked off the door again, pointed to my friend inside and did this exaggerated wave and said ‘HI!’ and then turned around and gave me this smug look and raised his eyebrows and sent me on my way. I would happily have waited if he hadn’t have acted like that.

So rude! It was still early and I hadn’t drunk much, wasn’t underdressed and had been let into Honkytonks and Tongue and Groove just prior, so I don’t think it was about me.

I’m all for competition and I really wanted to enjoy my experience there but I just didn’t. Such a shame, because it looks great.

Antony Arena says: 4 July, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Hi Alice,

My name is Antony and I’m the owner of Playground. I’m sorry you had a bad experience. The staff on our door are under firm instructions to not let anybody in once we have reached 57 people (our liquor licence occupancy limit). I know sometimes it appears that we don’t look that full but believe me, we were. If we could fit more people in under our licence, we would happily do so. Last Friday, we were at capacity from 4pm until 1am and it was as simple as 4 people out, 4 people in etc.

I was actually standing near the door when you came in. I understand that you just wanted to say hello and not drink etc but unfortunately the liquor licence officers don’t care about that. For every person we are over, if caught, we would be fined $5000, so for us, it’s not worth the risk.

I’m glad to hear you have had a good experience with the bar and wait staff.

Please feel free to contact me the next time you’re around and I’ll shout a dessert or a martini!

antony@playground

Zoe says: 17 August, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Anthony,
Although great you responded to Alice’s comment you did not offer an explanation as to the rudeness she experienced. I travel to Canberra from Melbourne for work and am often surprised at the attitude of some establishments, and I grew up there.

I have encountered more snobbish behaviour in Canberra than in most other cities I have travelled in, such a pity really, it is a nice city but can be up itself.

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