It’s a throwback to a bygone era; the days of speakeasies and jazz dens. A pianist in the middle of the room, lit by candlelight and a chandelier from above, plays with hands wriggling and rolling across the keys of a baby grand. Owner Andrew Bianco designed and built Ragtime Tavern around that piano, a commanding presence in the centre of the small room.
On weekends there are scheduled gigs, sometimes with a singer, and Thursday nights are dedicated Open Piano evenings (though Bianco says guests are welcome to play on other nights too). Some of the bar staff are pianists, regularly performing mid-shift, and Bianco will jump behind the bar if things get too busy. It’s all in the name of atmosphere. And every performance is free, whether it’s an amateur off the street or a big name behind the keys.
Decor in the main bar is heavy on the curves, from the bar top circling the piano, to the shelves behind the bar. The circular theme also applies to the piano, which rotates 360 degrees thanks to a small motor.
Drinks are simple. A few wines from the Barossa and McLaren Vale, Hawkers Beer and Two Birds on tap, basic spirits, and a couple of cocktails. As he gets more established, Bianco has plans to grow the whisky side of things, but for now he’s building the bar program up slowly.
To eat, order from the diner next door, This Borderland, where everything from the American comfort food menu can be made vegan.