Soho is awash with bars, every street every corner is littered with them; some worth visiting some definitely not. I have found recently that the best ones are indeed the hardest to find; hidden behind a clandestine door, tucked away in a dinky basement or even perched up on rooftops. As I eagerly walked down Broadwick street, on a Wednesday night, the very small blue sign and stairs leading down to The Player made me hope I was about to unearth a great find in the dinky basement category....
Ambience and decor
Having descended the narrow staircase you turn left and enter into The Player...definitely not dinky, quite a sizeable space in fact, but the low lighting and flicker of candles on every table gave it an intimate feel. As you enter, the drinks bar sits on the right hand side, resplendent with every type of every single spirit known to man and a small dance-floor space with a DJ booth tucked away on the side.
The left hand side of the bar spreads back and out. With the wood panelling on the wall and brown leather comfy couches and retro chairs decorating circular tables you almost feel like you have entered into a Starsky and Hutch film set (if the film was based in an intimate 70s airport first class lounge). Did it amaze me? Not entirely, but it has character and is definitely something different to the multitude of 30s and 40s speakeasies which are now beginning to merge into one in my mind).
Step into the comfy world of The Player
Clientele and atmosphere
As it was a Wednesday night, The Player was hardly heaving. There were a few groups of girly catch ups, a scattering of after work drink groups and the odd couple here and there. I'd say it has a total capacity of about 150-220 down there (if that means anything to you).
With inoffensive music on in the background and the communal chitter chatter and laughter of the groups around us, it was the perfect atmosphere for chilled out, post-work de-stress drinks. I imagine that when The Player is full it would resonate with a lively buzz. On the weekends expect DJs to bring the place to life and transport it from lounge bar to fun-time DJ bar, with people up and dancing on the "dance floor" (area in front of the drinks bar) and in between the tables.
Food and Drinks
Drinks is where this retro-cool basement really excels. With its heritage in delivering quality cocktails, this has remained at the forefront of everything The Player does. Expect classics, twists on classics and of course the retro (including a Melon Ball and Tequila Sunrise). They even allow you to fly economy, business or first on some of the cocktails which allows you to upgrade the base and spirit that goes into your drink. Also I must mention the knowledge of the barmen...they had an answer for every questions, even on.the beers. To say they know and understand their drinks menu is an understatement. The drinks are incredibly reasonably priced with cocktails starting at £6.50, bottles of beer £3.25 and glasses of wine £5.
I would class the food as high class bar snacks. Don't come here expecting to dine out with your cocktails but the substantial and very tasty bar bites will definitely fill a hole. I can recommend the Arancini and Shrimp Tempura. Expect to pay £4 up to £12 (lamb chops).
70s inspired retro chic decor at The Player
As I mentioned above, mid-week the music is less important...more providing a lively but subtle base over which people can chat. Come Thursday the mood changes as does the music; expect anything from NU disco to funk to electro house. You can also expect free entry on Thursdays and a door charge of £5 on fridays and saturdays after 9pm. With great DJs taking control The Player really does transform into a great party destination and when this low-lit basement is bouncing with revelry it really is tough to find somewhere to match its atmosphere in Soho.
Snuggle up mid-week with a cracking cocktail and catch up with mates
The Player is somewhat of a super hero. What am I talking about? Well during the week it is a respectable cool basement bar that everyone likes and it excells in what it does (namely cocktail making) but when it strips off the suit on Thursday to reveal its superhero attire underneath, it will shock, impress but most importantly never let you down: A saviour of fun times in soho if you will!