You know you're in Fitzroy when, after avoiding a pile of fixie bikes to reach the beer garden, the scene around you resembles a classic 80s game of Guess Who with hats, moustaches and over-sized spectacles. Welcome to Mr Scruff's. Situated in the beating heart of Fitzroy on the corner of Gertrude and Smith, this is the home of the hipster and as dirty, sexy and cool as it gets. Check out the recent Sex and Takeout series by Australian photographer Sarah Bahbah, which features Mr Scruff's, and you'll instantly understand the vibe.
This bar-cum-eatery-cum-club is exactly where you'd want to be for a few quiet beers through the week, or for a Bloody Mary on a Sunday afternoon. Excellent themed evenings signal brilliant value. On Wednesdays between 6pm and 10pm, all food is a crazily generous half price, and on Tuesdays (read: Chewsdays) the team introduce a new burger — and they usually do a pretty decent combo offer to include a tasty craft beer with your bun. Thursday through Saturday can also be spent consuming a few more jars and throwing some shapes on the intimate dance floor to the DJs spinning funk, soul and hip-hop until 4am.
The food is heady and gluttonous. The signature beef burger is achingly satisfying and excellent value ($9), with just the right amount of fat dripping onto that lightly toasted burger bun. Fair warning that the beer battered chips ($8) shouldn't be ordered by those with addictive tendencies. Even the vege pattie burger ($9) had the rare quality of being fulfilling in its own right, rather than a poor man's version of the real thing. Small bites include chicken wings with sesame soy ($8) and pulled pork tacos with smoked apple chutney and chorizo ($6), and the poutine is of epic proportions: cheese, gravy and bacon on top of those moreish chips ($10). One might even go so far as to suggest giving the inevitable Gelato Messina queue a miss for the evening and indulging in Mr Scruff's belgian waffles with salted caramel and butterscotch ice cream ($9). Hydration comes in the form of a pared back and intelligent booze list that will satisfy, but won't paralyse you with choice.
If post-ironic Saved by the Bell isn't really your style, you might not appreciate this bar. However, Mr Scruff's manages to be a little bit of everything without compromising on anything, and is be a solid choice for bar food and booze any night of the week.