James Angliss loves playing competitive pinball and drinking craft beer – simultaneously. Earlier this month, with Ben Nichols and Kieran Ryan from The Scratch, he opened Netherworld, a venue dedicated to just that.
“The [arcade bar] scene is massive in the USA,” Angliss says. “In one district of Chicago alone, I think there are eight.”
The large Fortitude Valley venue, formerly the Step Inn, is split into three sections. The heritage-listed public bar at the front features retro green tiling and a long, curved bar bench. Out the back, arcade machines are lined up against an exposed brick wall. Through another doorway is Hellmouth Diner, fitted out with street art, barbeque benches and fairy lights.
In total, there are 25 arcade machines, 15 pinball machines, five classic consoles and more than 100 board games. Most came from friends of Angliss’, who he had met through the competitive pinball scene.
“It was definitely a challenge,” Angliss says. “If you had endless pockets it would be easy to buy mint condition equipment from all around the world but we certainly didn’t have that sort of money.”
Bryn Griffiths (ex-Sixes and Sevens) heads up the kitchen in Hellmouth Diner, creating an entirely vegan menu that fuses classic American diner-style food with Japanese influences. The biggest hit so far is the Kappa Katsu Burger: panko-crumbed eggplant with avocado, nori, pickled ginger, wasabi kewpie mayo, lettuce and tomato. For non-vegans, there are dairy and protein add-ons to most dishes on the menu, such as swapping the eggplant for katsu chicken.
There’s a strong focus on craft beer with 14 taps on offer, including the Kobold pale ale, in collaboration with Green Beacon Brewery; and the Abomination, developed with Modus Operandi Brewing Co. A selection of wines, ciders and cocktails are also available as well as house-made alcoholic and non-alcoholic sodas.
186 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
Tue to Sun 12pm–late