In light of the recent smokin’-in-yo-face ban, I probably should’ve visited a nicotine-stained lung for this week’s Bar Fly to see what it was like to, er, see a venue that is usually otherwise cloaked in a thick fog of floating cancer. Instead, I forgot, and was reminded only by a tiny, handwritten sign taped to the front door of Kent St, one of Smith Street’s (confused yet?) most appealing drinking destinations, advising patrons they must now take their fags outside. Such modest charms are typical of this delightful bar and cafe.
Behind the large roller door (which is a glossily bright shade of Margaret Fulton kitchen green), Kent St unfolds in a marvellously ramshackle fashion. Like Miss Haversham’s formerly grand abode, had Miss Haversham lived in an upstairs-downstairs townhouse near Number 96, the place is like a ’70s dream house gone to seed. You half expect to be greeted by a bunch of dust-covered ladies-who-(didn’t-make-it-to)-lunch in bell-bottomed playsuits clutching stale vodka stingers.
Hanging plants luxuriate at head height, while creepers spill out of a birdcage that was long ago vacated. A fabulous mishmash of vintage furniture and fittings is thrown about in a jumble, from Doris Day-esque dressers used as coffee tables, to modular lounges that were once the height of foam-filled chic. Walls full of small framed prints provide colour and movement among the various velvety shades of (peeling) paint.
You can even sit in the box windows like a living piece of visual merchandising and confuse fussy passers-by who fail to to explore Kent St’s shambolic wonders.
The bar itself is perched at the top of a diminutive flight of stairs, looking down upon the action. A wide and characterful range of beers is available, as well as carefully chosen spirits and wine (and the usual softies, including the glorious San Pellegrino blood orange, truly the thinking person’s fizzy drink). The coffees (and hot chocs) are great, as are the accompaniments – a heavenly (and very CWA-ish in its generous proportions) coconut-and-raspberry slice will set you back only $2, meaning Kent St’s prices are pleasingly retro, too.
Featuring semi-regular events such as a Tetris championship (on this Sunday for dedicated fans of the world’s most beloved Russian computer game), an eclectic drinking soundtrack and low-lit surrounds, Kent St is a fine place to park yourself for an afternoon coffee that turns into an evening drink. Too shabby-chic to attract the "Sunday drinker" crowd, and not so self-consciously retro/vintage that it’s unbearable for everyone else, Kent St is a perfectly pitched medium, and the ideal place to while away the hours, mentally concocting the great Australian novel/feature film/rock masterpiece/Tetris game over a strong macchiato. Just don’t stay so long that you end up looking like one of the fittings.
Posted by Yen Chin on 2009-11-20 08:52:44
Tagged: , Kent , St; , collingwood; , bar; , coffee; , cafe , latte; , fitzroy; , smith