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

Friday, October 28, 2005

Mystery bar number 8

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I've been unfairly accused of duplicity regarding the clues to my previous mystery bar, but my accuser is a well-known nutter, so you can safely dismiss the accusations. I do intentionally err on the side of vagueness, but purely to maintain a sense of challenge, enigma, and yes, mystery. It would hardly be a mystery bar if I said "It's upstairs, between the bucket fountain and Murphy's, and it's named after an African country starting with M and ending in occo", now would it?

Anyway, to business. This place had been on the cusp for a while, and didn't seem to know whether it wanted to be upmarket, boho or cheap and basic. Its decor veers between colonial, minimalist and art nouveau, and the staff and events always seemed a little too alternative for most of the clientele. The restaurant had a good menu and impressive wine list (including '99 Larose and even occasionally the odd single-vineyard Côte Rôtie), but the ambience never really suited fine dining.

It's recently had a bit of a rethink, and while the decor hasn't changed, it has a new logo, new chef and new bar manager. It also has a series of themed and "special" nights that seem to be sending it downmarket: "Ladies'" nights and Friday "corporate shouts".

With the departure of the previous bar manager and many of the waiting staff, some of its distinctiveness has now gone. The bar staff used to be lively and creative people (the fact that they often turned up on catwalks or music videos didn't hurt, either), and while the current staff seem competent and pleasant enough, they can't make most of the unique and delicious cocktails on what was an extensive list. I asked for a dry Martini there last night, and while it wasn't dreadful, it was about as dry as a Karori winter.

This used to be a good place for a relaxing evening, sipping a couple of cocktails on a Monday night while perched at the bar having a chat, but it just doesn't seem the same now. It could have emphasised its distinctive features and become something special, but it seems to have veered definitively towards the bland and predictable.

P.S. A quick note for those that have been there with me (yes, you Hadyn): if you recognise it, then hold off for a little while and give the others a chance!


At 1:21 pm, October 28, 2005, Blogger Hadyn said...


I was actually struggling until you said I had been there.

At 3:21 pm, October 28, 2005, Blogger s. said...

Wow. Remind me never to taunt you again. You come out swinging ;)

It's Neat.

At 3:49 pm, October 28, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Well done, Stephen. As your reward I shall buy you a Tiger Lily at Neat one day.

Oh wait. They don't make a Tiger Lily any more, since Eddy ran away with the recipes. Bugger.

BTW, was that you or one of your colleagues who came to my blog by searching for "civil unions nz"? At least I presume it wasn't you who was doing a search for "maggie barry" lesbian. Some people really need to get a life.

At 12:17 pm, October 31, 2005, Blogger s. said...

So is my reward a theoretical cocktail? Or is the no-longer existant cocktail my theoretical reward?

Either way, I'm thirsty.

At 1:17 pm, October 31, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

I'm not quite ready for a discussion on the epistomology of alcohol, except...

Rene Descartes was a drunken fart
"I drink, therefore I am !"

At 2:24 pm, November 03, 2005, Blogger s. said...

Hey Tom, I'll trade you my no-longer-existant cocktail for your theoretical reward for correctly answering the '1947' question, which is...

hang on, where'd it go?

At 4:45 pm, November 03, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Well, if the theoretical reward was to be considered "as smart as I hoped you were", then if I trade that for a non-existent cocktail, does that mean that you'll be free to consider me a moron?

At 11:14 am, November 04, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Anyway, this was too easy, so have a go at the next mystery bar. Stephen, based upon previous comments, I have a feeling this will be a doddle for you, too.

At 4:05 pm, November 04, 2005, Blogger Kate Borrell said...

I remember that place when it was Mama Flos. I liked the upstairs bar.

Word verification: faffy

That should mean something.

At 8:47 am, November 07, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

"Mama Flo's", eh? I don't remember that one. I do remember Orsinis, and and Indian restaurant, and Montelupo or something like that, but no Mama Flo's. When was that

zxpsqago: that definitely doesn't mean anything. Except perhaps in Basque.

At 12:46 pm, June 12, 2006, Blogger s. said...

Oh! How'd I miss this?

*Mammy* Flo's was early to mid 90s. Cajun theme. Gumbo. Lots of young guys in suits binge drinking on Thursday and Friday nights. That sort of thing.

Raja was the Indian place; at the time it was also somehow related to Café 151 in Riddiford St. Raja had the best waiting staff - a particularly memorable one was the recent Russian immigrant who had a habit of wearing heels too big, skirts too small, and dropping trays full of drinks.


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