S OME bars, like some people, have no compunction about overtly flashing their charms, convinced you'll like what you see even if your only real feeling is that you've seen it too many times before. Other bars (and people) like to leave a little mystery, allowing the good bits to reveal themselves to you bit by bit.
Though not exactly the shy, retiring type, LongPlay doesn't desperately flag its presence either.
There's a discreet sign painted on the front windows, which are screened with white venetian blinds so it's not really obvious that this is a bar until you've stepped through the rippled-glass front door and been immediately reminded of an old-school espresso joint where Italian or Greek men once gathered to play cards and smoke.
LongPlay cleverly channels those places (sans tobacco smoke, of course) with some excellent retro-styled custom-made joinery including a fantastic angled and polished timber bar and a gaggle of covetable and comfortable timber bar stools. There are booths, too, and a turntable with a stack of vinyl setting the soundtrack.
There's even a tiny kitchen that pumps out a good line in entree-sized snacks such as lamb cutlets with spiced chickpeas ($17) or disc-like semolina gnocchi, nicely chewy and tossed with currants, anchovies and breadcrumbs ($14).
Venture a little further in and LongPlay reveals more of its charms.
There's a back room, comfortably furnished and flatteringly lit, that immediately screams "private party" and an outdoor smokers' corridor. Then, somewhat unexpectedly for first-time visitors, you notice a 30-seat cinema, complete with raked seating, a screen way bigger than your big, fat plasma and a regular Sunday night movie session (free and kind of cultish, without losing its sense of humour).
Icing on the cake is a neat and tidy list of alcohol that hangs with the quality-not-quantity crowd. The wine list is enamoured with the Old World (2008 Al Muvedre Monastrell from Spain, $8/$38) while the beer selection roams from Abbotsford (Melbourne Bitter, $6) to Argentina (Quilmes, $7). Co-owner Adam Sime (familiar to many from his other lives as an artist and long-time waiter at Mario's) is also a dab hand with cocktails and his exacting version of the martini borders on the definitive.
LongPlay is not the sort of place that's going to jump through hoops to get your attention. Once it has it, though, it's the type of place that you feel you could really get serious about.
- 0400 155 891 or 0423 115 774
- Opening Hours - Sun-Wed 6pm-11pm; Thurs-Sat 6pm-1am