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3 reviews
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6 Mills Lane,
Auckland Central

(09) 366 6067

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byGuy Ralls15/11/2005

4 out of 5

Dwarfed by the buildings around it, Tabac is in a bungalow-style building in the heart of Downtown Auckland.

This, together with its gabled ceiling and a warm, seductive interior, gives it the feeling of a church hall; where the church has been bowled for development—and the hall, feeling lost, has followed a slightly less moral calling.

That suits Tabac's regulars just fine. People have been coming for years including, more recently, a funkier Wednesday crowd, here for DJ sets played by members of Auckland band, The D4.

There are few other bars nearby, making Tabac something of a destination venue, and the crowd is generally quite tight. When we come in late on a Wednesday the place is fizzing along nicely in a friendly, some-people-dancing, lots-of-people-smiling kind of a way.

The DJ is spinning Sugar-sugar, and the lighting is a warm orange from various sources—an old-school pinball machine, a back-lit bar, and overhead chandeliers.

This place takes its drinks seriously. Wen we come, one of the Crow Bar's cocktail waiters is working here. There's also a good range of bottled beers, including the original Czech Budweiser.

But, the best thing about Tabac—rather fittingly, given its name—is its tiny smokers' balcony.

Here, businessmen in town to buy boats mix with jazz singers and fashion designers. It's a special perch, this, and one that puts Tabac in its true context—as the top floor of a high building with entrances on two streets that are at vastly differing levels.

A long way below is an alley, while to the right, next to Tabac's entrance and topped with a lamp-post, is a spiral staircase joining the two street levels. The 'Tabac' sign hangs from a pole into the alley in Mills Lane, while opposite, on the wall of the NZ Herald building, is a futuristic mess of air-conditioning pipes.

It all feels quite European—squint and you could imagine this was a backstreet in Paris, perhaps.

With a cool crowd and setting, Tabac is well worth a mid-week visit. Just don't forget your cigarettes.

Tabac has been reviewed by 3 users

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