Mystery bar number 57
I thought that the previous mystery bar would have been fairly obscure, but no: Stephen got in quickly to identify it as the bar at the Hotel Willis Lodge. It's got a bit more character than one might expect from something that on the outside looks like the sort of motel one might find on the outskirts of Palmerston North, presumably because it's family-run. From some of the comments, it sounds like the neighbourhood (at the corner of Te Aro, Aro Valley and Brooklyn) could do with a local pub, but I don't think this will ever be it. It's very much the bar and restaurant of a small hotel, and doesn't seem to attract many non-guests.
Today's mystery bar, on the other hand, is roaringly popular. There's a huge drink selection, and a small but intriguing range of food. The décor is stylish and contemporary but mostly predictable, with plenty of exposed concrete, dark wood and visible ductwork. There's a back room that breaks with the faux-industrial look of the main bar, providing a respite from the din with comfy bench seats and curtain-lined walls. Other elements provide a link back to the bar's long past and loyal patrons.
There were also a couple of artworks, and one in particular seemed a little out of place. I rather liked this monochrome and slightly gruesome Bill Hammond piece, but I thought that it might not be to the taste of this bar's presumed target market. On the other hand, they are very serious about connoisseurship in other fields, so why not art?
And among the milling throngs there was one table of youngsters engaged in earnest discussion over a book by Deleuze and Guattari, so based upon some critical responses to Hammond's work, he could be just the right artist for the place. It could make for a whole new take on traditional pub dialogue: "How 'bout them Thousand Plateaus, then?", "Don't get all rhizomatic with me, mate."