Die-hard Espressoholic fans seem to be happy that it will continue in a new location, taking over from Dorothy’s Patisserie in Cuba St. There are still grumblings about its previous location being taken over by "another godawful Courtenay Place bar", but there are signs that its replacement, "Enigma", might not be another Shooters or Electric Avenue. For a start, the sign in the window describes it as a "café/bar", and the painting going on inside seems to have a similar graffiti theme to the old place. Some have even said that there are links to the old Espressoholic management, so perhaps some of whatever it was that people saw in the place will remain, for better or worse. But are we to expect a soundtrack of Gregorian chants and shakuhachi samples?
There are plenty of other changes going on in the bar and café world, and it’s not all doom & gloom. I’ll keep you in on the gossip after the jump.
Is Caffé Italiano the new Mojo? We rather like their upper Cuba St location, and when they took over the old Brandon St Café it was refreshing to have somewhere in suitville that knew that panini don’t have to be manky little slabs of MDF. They’ve now popped up in the Majoribanks St space that was briefly a deli/café called Zest, and it looks like they’re setting up a fourth café in the old Meat on Tory.
Speaking of Tory St, my antennae have picked up rumours that the former car rental place below Hawthorn Lounge is to be converted into a restaurant. Tel-Boy Serepisos has just about finished his architectural masterwork next door, and while there’s no sign of life in the ground floor spaces just yet, at least one of them was always intended to be a bar and/or restaurant. It’ll be years before anything happens on the old Il Casino site, but word is that café operators are already interested in some of the ground floor spaces. If the Current Economic Climate doesn’t have us all lining up outside soup kitchens, it looks like Tory St will develop into quite a substantial eating & drinking destination.
One more sign of that is that the former Latinos, which closed a while back, will be become a Te Aro outpost of Newtown’s Amigos. Plenty of other recently vacated spaces have been converted and reopened since my previous post, including Koi (formerly Copita), Fusion (a supposedly "Bollywood" bar in the old Taranaki St Santa Fe space), Hole in the Wall (a slightly less bogan Valve), and New Orleans (in Allen St, the long-empty former home of Play). Speaking of New Orleans, whose old Lambton Quay location is still empty, it had a great review as a restaurant by David Burton, but as a bar it’s deeply disappointing. I’d hoped that it would be dripping with Sazeracs and Ramos Fizz, but the cocktail list would be more at home in a 1990s provincial nightclub.
The range of Asian establishments is also set to increase, with the old Zilata cafe in the Willis St village ready for conversion into an Asian restaurant, near the always-excellent Miyabi and the entertainingly insane BBQ/karaoke hole that is Taste of Korea. Karaoke fiends should also be aware that the old MVP/Quarter/Chevy’s is becoming a karaoke bar (or "Bar Karaoke" as their sign says), and Club K will re-open just on the other side of the Oaks.
On a sadder note, one of our former favourites looks to be dead: there have been no signs of life at Superfino for a couple of months. There are no For Lease signs either, however, so some of us still hang on to vague hopes of enjoying their cosy charms once more. Rather less super is the Auckland-based chain of cod-Italian restaurants Portofino, and there are strong rumours going around that they’ll be taking over the remaining space at the bottom of the Meridian building, south of Wagamama. This fly has never had occasion to dine at one of their many outlets, but let’s just say that reviews such as "None of us will go back to Portofino even if it is the last place on earth" do not give us much encouragement.