One thing I like about Melbourne is the bars and pubs hidden away in laneways. Sometimes they’re really hidden – I’ve walked right past a bar several times before even realising it was there such is the understated nature of their facade.
It might seem a really bad business idea not to make your bar bluntly obvious and easily noticeable, but I’m cool with it, See, as a visitor, finding these tiny, tiny bars almost feels like you’ve been let in on a local secret. Like you’ve passed some test that most of the tourist hordes fail.
I’m sure that’s partly why I like The Little Prince bar so much. The small bar is hidden in a laneway off the Wollongong Mall up a small set of stairs next to the less popular entrance to what was once a Myer department store.
Were it not for the sandwich board sign they place outside the front door, you could easily walk past it and have no idea it was there. In fact, even WITH the sandwich board I reckon people still walk past it.
These days Globe Lane is a bit of a hip and happening place, with cafes, chain restaurants and another bar in His Boy Elroy there. Now it’s a place people want to go. But back when The Little Prince opened up, it was a ghost town in that lane. It was a wind tunnel in winter and people only ever used it as a short cut between the mall and the street behind.
So it was a bit of a brave move for the owners – who previously ran upmarket cocktail bar Otis upstairs on the main drag of Crown Street – to set up shop there. Sure, the owners of the whole mall area gave them a few sweeteners to go to Globe Lane – because they wanted to “activate” the area – but it’s always dicey to be the first one to jump.
However, it has turned out well, with The Little Prince being very much the trailblazer when it comes to small bars in the city. There were none before it came along. Since then around half-a-dozen have come riding in on its coat-tails. While there is the idea that a rising tide floats all boats – more bars in the CBD brings more people which means more potential customers – it’d stick in my craw a little bit to have been the first and then have all these other guys suddenly rushing in.
In terms of the beer on offer, it’s a small bar so it’s not like they have 20 taps or anything like that. There are four taps working – one of which often hosts a more mainstream beer (which gives some beer geeks the shits but is fine with me – makes sense that a business would want to cater for as many options as possible). And the craft beers they do get on tap are quality – as well as stuff from local guys like the Illawarra Brewing Company and Five Barrels, you’ll also spot tap decals from the likes of Mornington, Akasha, Nomad, Mountain Goat and Feral.
They also do food via a small kitchen and serve up a range of cocktails (which I can’t vouch for as I’ve never bothered to try).
The bar itself is quite pleasant, with a large outdoor seating area which feels really private despite backing onto one of the main streets of Wollongong. In fact, if you stand on that street it’s still hard to spot the bar – only the noise of chatter and laughter might tip you off that there’s a good time to be had up there.
And there is. Most definitely. In fact, I like this place so much, I made sure to vote for it as part of the Beer & Brewer selection panel for the best bars in the country.
Categories: Craft Beer in Wollongong