2018 was a long year for Bimbo fans, who had gone many days and nights without it. Formerly the Punters Club, but operating as Bimbo Deluxe since 2002, the corner site succumbed to fire in May 2018.
The new Bimbo (they’ve dropped the “Deluxe”) evokes the spirit of the original, but has taken the opportunity to evolve. The giant Kewpie doll on the building’s exterior is familiar. But inside, its unrecognisable. The re-fit is by former owner of now-closed city institution Honkytonks and interior designer Rabindra Naidoo (Epocha, Neapoli, Pidapipo, Juliet), who kept the original floor plan and stayed true to the comfortable dim lighting that made it so easy to spend all night at the old iteration.
Anchoring the ground floor is an American oak horseshoe bar which commands your attention. There are black and white terrazzo floors underfoot, broken up by diagonal brass detailing. Where once you’d have sunk into one of the mismatched old couches, now there are pale pink fibreglass booths.
The main room features work by local contemporary artist Elliott Routledge. It’s bold, with blocks of colour, stripes and smiley faces that – under the rainbow disco lights and ceiling mirrors – appear cheerful and nightmarish at the same time. There’s a top-of-the-line sound-system, and a DJ booth in a stripped-out old plane, finished in fiery pink and purple flames.
Bimbo’s legendary $4 pizza specials were one of the old pub’s greatest attractions. These days they're $5 each, which is still good value. The Caesar is mozzarella, chicken, cos, croutons and bacon, and the spiced lamb pizza comes with red sauce, garlic oil, yoghurt and coriander. There’s a chocolate and a Turkish delight version, too. Lighter is a handful of salads or the vegan poke bowl.
Jugs of sangria or Pimms Cup are $30 each, and the infused vodkas are back – try coconut and banana, or ginger and lychee. The one-page wine list spans mostly Australia and New Zealand.