Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 32, No. 19. August 6, 1969
A guide to eating and drinking in Wellington
I have found this year's recipient for the best barman of the year award. And how appropriate that he should receive it in the year 1969 Picture a very drunken Tums with an equally drunk Big Mitch in the Battle Bar of the Waterloo. I had just purchased a round when this tart walked in with four letters written figuratively across her forehead. The Big Fella and I were transfixed. No so the barman, as he pushed my sixty-nine cents change towards me.
'"Soixante-neuf, sir?" he enquired.
This Battle Bar is really a first class place. There is the must amazing painting on the ceiling which I interpret as a satire on the fumbling stupidity and profiteering involved in war. After a while it freaks you out. A lovely black bar adds to the charm.
For those who want to strike up a conversation, the barman's name is John. Five points.
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I called in at the public bar of the Grand on Saturday night and listened to the Varsity rugby people. Apologies to Peter Cook, but the conversation in the Grand was very boring. And I mean boring. Amazingly boring. It is some of the most boring conversation I have ever heard. You know, really boring. In fact, if you wanted a word to sum up the conversation in the Grand, boring is that word. It goes something like this:
"Good game today."
"Should beat Onslow next week."
"Going to a show tonight?"
"Taking a dolly?"
"Ho, ho, ho."
A saving grace is that Waikato beer is on tap, and fairly good meals can be obtained at relatively cheap prices. The barmaids do not like sauce. I don't like the Grand. Two points.
Athough I haven't yet investigated the bars of the Clarendon Hotel in Taranaki Street. I give top marks to the lady in the bottle store. Her male assistant was just wrapping me up a bottle of wine when she asked whether I was drinking it that evening. I said I was, so she went and got me a chilled bottle instead. Very nice touch.
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'The Barrets'. The very name has a romantic flavour to it that smacks of wood panelling and old plus furniture redolant with hazy drinking memories. Names can be deceptive. The Barretts has no such delights. It is just another pub.
But, and this is a most important but, they do have the most extraordinary counter meals served in the Pacific Bar. Served a la Kinks with a plastic knife and fork. Obviously it's plain tack.
But I have never seen such an enormous quantity. Your plate literally runneth over. All for less than 30 cents. Amazing. 3½ points.
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The Royal Tavern or 1001: A Piss Oddity
You will have observed that all of this column's action takes place this week in local hostelries, with nary a mention of a restaurant. This is the result of a most unfortunate occurrence which culminated in my being put away ha ha. Even now I get a little upset at the thought of it, but I'll do my best to recount exactly what happened in a clear and impartial fashion.
I am a great believer in not interfering with the immutable laws of nature, one of which is gravity. Whenever I drink in a pub with more than one floor. I always start at the top, and sort of flow down naturally to the lower ban, and so it was when I Returned To The Royal Tavern.
I started upstairs in the Royal Room. I managed to stay upright during the 20 minutes or so that I waited for a drink, and sat down on a rock hard red and black chair at a red and black table with no ashtray. Sokay, I look round cautiously and there are all these polystyrene foam knights hanging from the wall staring blankly back at me. One of them was missing a leg. This half-hearted attempt at making cripples feel at home also had a cigarette butt tucked in the crook of his arm. So. These have got to be the biggest ashtrays in the Southern Hemisphere.
My stomach told me that it was time in switch to another bar, so I wandered downstairs to a bar which contained no foam knights, but which the management in their wisdom have called the Knights' Bar. The orange and purple decor could have been chosen for an entirely different sort of person than the ones who drink there, but I rather fancy it is just bad taste. The chairs at least looked mure comfortable here. My fundament soon informed me that the opposite was the ease. They do have a most friendly and chatty barmaid. But I was starting to feel distinctly paranoid at this stage, so I went down to the Dungeon Bar.
I really can't adequately describe the revolting brickwork with which this bar is lined. It is just incredibly bad, and is beginning to come away from the walls. The seats here have their upstairs counterparts beaten hands down when it comes to discomfort. I determined to have one beer and depart. So I got my beer and sat down. It was [hen that it happened. I looked up and there was the spook out of the Wizard of Id just sitting there chained to the wall. I don't quite know what happened after that. I vaguely remember being trussed up screaming into the alleyway which leads to the dart board by two knights in white coats and having a clothes peg clipped neatly onto my tongue and then everything goes blank. I don't think I'll go back to the Royal Tavern again.
Yours till the walls pad.