The problem (Note: may not be an actual problem that anyone actually suffers from): You are a funky/ eclectic/ interesting/ retro/ vintage/ nostalgic/ creatively-bearded hipster guy/ gal who just loves antiques. So much so, in fact, that you are devoted to grooving up your house/ apartment/ flat/ unit/ room/ caravan/ tree dwelling even when you are supposed to be going out with friends or attending socially compulsory Saturday night birthday drinks. While everyone else is "putting their hands up in the air" in line with the frankly bossy DJ's instructions, you only have one hand up with them, while the other is on your phone tracking how your eBay bid on that pie crust mirror is progressing, or trying to find out if the reds ended up winning that episode of Bargain Hunt you had to leave halfway through. How do you choose between your pesky social obligations and your love of grooviness?
The solution: You don't.
When it was announced that the Saturday night birthday drinks we would be attending were going to be on Chapel Street, my affinity for my functional hearing, hatred of seizure-inducing lighting, and deep respect for healthy suspension in my surrounding traffic caused me to groan inwardly. However, it turns out that hidden away as just a strip of dark-ish window above a few clothing boutiques on Chapel Street is far and away one of the most interesting bars I have ever been to.
Walking up the stairs toward the somewhat incongruently hidden yet fully light-bulbed bright sign, I was expecting an average Chapel Street bar. This view was maintained as we found ourselves immersed in loud music on entering through the giant oak doors and into the bar.
My first indication that we were not where we thought we were was when I put down my (impeccably made!) champagne
cocktail to look at a very cute vintage gramophone decorating the ATM machine. I then noticed the price tag on it. I then noticed the price tag on the gorgeous plaster of Paris antique mirror behind it. Surprised, I went to pick up my drink again for a contemplatory sip, and noticed that I had in fact rested it on a price tag. On a morgue table. Upon talking to the Birthday Boy about it, we found out we had missed a skeleton by about a week.
Virtually all the décor in Pawn and Co is for sale, and all of it is awesome. The walls are lined with vintage cabinets, tables and
Poor little guy
homewares, and the patrons sip their cocktails on vintage couches.
My only complaint about this bar is that it was far too overstimulating. My internal monologue was simultaneously instructing me to get another drink, a lamp, a gramophone, a vintage lawnmower, a black chandelier, a $40 Bohemian Crystal whiskey decant, a morgue table, another drink, and the exit door (also for sale). It was also telling me it wasn't sure how it felt about the taxidermied wallaby, but that in another couple of drinks, it could feasibly see me trying to free him back into the wild. (As an aside, I don't think my inner monologue was the first to have this prospective bright idea, and I think that is probably why he was kept in the highest place in the bar).
Because it is crammed with beautiful, quirky and unconventional antiques, the atmosphere in Pawn & Co is quite enjoyable. Saturday nights are not the best time to go for a conversation (apparently it is quieter at other times and on other days), but it is always a beautiful and nostalgic atmosphere to soak up, even if you can't hear your company. It was busy, but not overcrowded, and the drinks were professionally made. This was the first place I had been to in a long time that hadn't either asked me which champagne cocktail I wanted, or asked me what a champagne cocktail was, and what type of beer it used. The bar staff just knew what to do, and weren't pretentious about it. As Melbourne goes, it was the perfect middle ground.
The exit. Also for sale
If you are there around dinner time, there is a range of simple New Orleans style food available such as sliders, with a couple (but not many) of gluten free and dairy free items on the menu, which we didn't get to try, due to a large dinner beforehand.
If you are one of many who can't bear being dragged away from Antiques Roadshow for social occasions (Note: again, I don't have any actual statistics on this. It is quite possible that no one has this problem. Really.) I recommend you try to move as many of your social occasions here as possible.
Or perhaps you are simply someone who has never had a drink on a morgue table with a taxidermied wallaby, and feel that this is something you need to cross off your bucket list.
Or, perhaps more realistically, it has just been a while since you have had a decent cocktail, and you want one that is done right, irrespective of whether it's handed to you over a lawnmower or not. Either way, Pawn & Co is well worth a look. I wouldn't say that I am now a Chapel Street convert, but I will definitely be going back.