Mystery bar number 10
Mystery bar number 9 proved to be truly obscure, and even dropping some extra hints didn't tip you off, so I finally had to put you out of your misery by identifying it as Mojo Invincible. It's a tiny little place, and not quite on the beaten track, but well worth a try.
Today's mystery bar should be a doddle by comparison. It's a popular place that has recently gone through a fairly radical refit, presumably with the intention of attracting a very different demographic from its traditional regulars.
The decor, while clearly much more upmarket than its previous incarnation, is intentionally a real mish-mash, with exposed concrete and polished steel walls contrasting with busywallpaper and wooden cladding. There are a lot of comfy leather sofas and booths as well as an eclectic mix of chairs and kiwiana cushions. Parts of the ceiling are covered in a pattern of mismatched panels, giving an effect that reminds me of work by John Mills Architects, though I'm not sure whether the revamp was done by them.
Will the new incarnation of this place attract new customers while retaining the loyalty of the old punters? Somehow I doubt it. The further you go into the depths of the bar, the closer it seems to the original, but I think that the two groups are deeply incompatible. If the artworks, designer fireplaces and flower arrangements don't put off the regulars, then the prices probably will. And if the old school drinkers remain here in force and stick to their old raucous music and sticky carpet ways, then the attempt to go upmarket is clearly doomed.
If this place had arrived out of the blue, I would probably love it for its cosiness, interesting design and relaxed feel. But it's hard not to feel a sense of loss. I don't have many memories of this place in its heyday (I'm sure I went there, I just don't remember), and it was never exactly my idea of a good time. I just hope that the old crowd has somewhere else to go - and that it's nowhere near me.