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

Friday, June 02, 2006

Mystery bar number 32

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This might seem like a bad time to talk about drinking, given that the council has extended the liquor ban that I thought was such a bad idea, and Jim Anderton is proposing an annual "alcohol-free day". I thought it was only alcoholics who felt the need to occasionally ban liquor from their lives completely? Most of us manage to have the odd tipple without worrying about whether we do or don't drink on a particular day. Remember, Brillat-Savarin once said that "a meal without wine is like a day without sunshine". Then again, Don Hewitson said "a meal without wine is ... breakfast."

Anyway, back to the mystery bars. The last one inspired some diverse guesses, but was identified by Kate, with confirmation from Martha and P.O.G. Blog (who writes about the most important aspect of the arts scene - gallery openings!). It was The Adelaide, which is now a fairly standard studenty pub, but which has a much darker past. As the Tramway Hotel, it was the scene of some notorious gang violence, including one Black Power/Mongrel Mob rumble that ended in a fatal beating. Not quite a case of "no gang colours"; just "make sure they're the right ones". Then it was cleaned up (relatively speaking) by Brian Le Gros and turned into ... well, the sort of place in which Mr Le Gros specialises. It was empty for a while, but now it's back with $5 jugs and live bands.

Mystery Bar #32 - the barToday's mystery bar is much more respectable. Most of the time it's more of a café or restaurant than a bar, but it becomes more bar-like towards the end of the week. They even have a cocktail list, but since the pleasant but inexperienced bartender looked blank when I requested a dry Martini, I knew based upon past experiences not to try my luck. There's a small but passable wine list, so I stuck with the predictable.

Mystery Bar #32 - fluffy bar stoolsWhen it opened, the decor would have been cutting-edge for the time, and while it still has a crisp, well-designed look, it's starting to seem a little 90s. There are lots of clean lines, and hard, almost industrial materials continue the minimalist theme. On the other hand, there are a few playful or luxurious touches, such as gold leaf and these fluffy-cushioned bar stools, to prevent it from becoming too cold and clinical. It's a compact space, but that gives it a touch of cosiness to offset the hard edges, and stairs and mirrors have been used cleverly to open it up at the back and introduce a hint of spatial mystery.

While it lacks any unique point of difference that would make it a destination bar, it's certainly a pleasant enough place for a couple of quiet drinks if you're in the vicinity. Just a word of advice to the proprietors: if you're going to advertise a cocktail list, make sure you train your staff appropriately.


At 2:26 pm, June 02, 2006, Blogger Baz said...

Tom: I'll have a dry martini.
Bartender: Beer, it is.
Tom: No, I said "martini".
Bartender: "Beer"?
Tom: [slowly] mar-tini.
Bartender: Be-er?
Tom: M -- A --
Bartender: B -- E --

Or maybe that's just Oz.

At 10:56 pm, June 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 1:30 pm, June 06, 2006, Blogger s. said...

Neat is *phhht*. So, incidentally, is the adjacent Argentinian place (Cordoba?).


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