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

Friday, December 02, 2005

Mystery bar number 12

Last week's mystery bar required a bit of prompting, though several of you got it in the end: it's the Piano Bar at Il Casino. While many people may not think of it when they think of bars, and the Piano Bar certainly exists primarily to provide pre- and post-dinner drinks for the restaurant patrons, anyone would be most welcome to walk off the street and order a drink. Anyone, that is, with a fair amount of dosh on their person.

Mystery bar #12 - the wine cellarOn to the next mystery bar, then, and this is a place that is willing to cut your wallet a little bit of slack. Despite the prominent display of wine bottles in a glass cabinet, this is certainly not a posh wine bar or cocktail bar. However, they do have a few surprisingly fine spirits behind the bar, sometimes at jaw-droppingly reasonable prices. For example, I was served a notably generous double of Remy Martin XO, and had to do a double take when I was only charged $12! At most places, a quality drop like that would set you back two or three times that amount. I can only presume that the bartender miscalculated and charged me for a single, or for the VSOP, but it might be worth going back, because if this is an ongoing error it's one that I am more than happy to take advantage of.

Not everything is quite so good, though. I had an acceptable dry martini, but in general I think it's fair to say that this is not cocktail heaven. Most of the clientele seem content with beer, a limited wine selection and (shudder) RTDs.

Mystery bar #12 - pool tablesThen there's the atmosphere, if that's not too strong a word. There are a couple of nice design touches, like the wine racks above, but it's generally a little barren and dated. I didn't include these in the draft hipness assessment methodology, but I think most people would agree that blue-baized pool tables and a pokies lounge are each worth at least a couple of points off. And this was the place that inspired the plasma screens and J2 criteria. To be fair, when we respectfully asked the barman whether it would be possible to change the channel, he replied (in a Simpson's squeaky teenager voice - he looked younger than most of the spirits I drink) "I agree, but I'll have to ask the manager", and it was eventually changed. Juice is not much of an improvement, but they deserve points for customer service.

There aren't many points of difference here, and the low-ceilinged blandness doesn't help. But they've recently changed name and management, and I really like the effort that they're putting in.


At 3:32 pm, December 02, 2005, Blogger the_sifter said...

Hmmm... what are the rules here Tom? Is the bar in what we would commonly refer to as "Wellington City"?

At 3:52 pm, December 02, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, very definitely.

If a mystery bar is outside the "city" (roughly the Stadium to the Basin), I'll indicate that. Or drop hints, at least. Or perhaps embed cryptic clues.

At 4:32 pm, December 02, 2005, Blogger Hadyn said...

I think I have a good idea.

At 10:14 am, December 05, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

I'm sure you do, Hadyn!


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