Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mystery bar number 3

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The exotically deranged decor of Harem (in Manners Mall above Abra Kebabra) is something that most of you are obviously yet to experience, given the lack of correct answers for last week's Mystery Bar question. Hadyn got it right, though, and as he mentioned, I'd blogged about it before as the mysterious doorway that had been intriguing passers-by for months.

For a change, this week's mystery bar is neither underground nor overground, but right on a major street. It may have escaped many people's attention, though, since the target market is not Wellingtonians.

It's definitely more restrained and upmarket than Harem, and at first glance it seems to sport that "ersatz Central Otago miner's cottage" look that has sprouted all over any bar that Monteith's has anything to do with (Tasting Room, The Occidental, Hope Bros). On second look, there's something not quite right about it: the "stone" walls look like they're plaster casts of rock, and there are light boxes and even a fishtank set into the walls (straight from the Gabriel's Gully Neon-Tetra-Fancier's club, I suppose).

It's more of a restaurant than a bar, though they have a cocktail list (mostly classics) and live bands late in the week. There's a large wall of wine bottles as you walk in, one that promises much (Pomerol, Chateauneuf-du-Pape) but delivers little, since the wine list has changed since then and they haven't updated the window display. The menu is fairly safe, though with unexpected outbreaks of weirdness: my warehou was surrounded by blobs of what looked like bright blue food colouring.

So, it's a strange mix of tasteful and not-quite-right. This may not be too surprising, since the owners are reputed to also have investments in a very different sector of the hospitality industry. Any guesses as to its identity?


At 9:17 pm, September 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eclipse? (In that newish Hotel in Willis Street?)

At 11:41 pm, September 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's my guess too. But then I live up the road from it so I ought to recognise it. Mine's a mohito!

At 11:23 am, September 12, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Right, not much of a mystery there, then! Have any of you actually been there?

At 8:10 pm, September 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope - only to walk past, not to go inside.

I have to confess that my wife picked it (she guessed the Harem too, but we couldn't remember the name).


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