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St Kevins Arcade,
183 Karangahape Road,

(09) 377 8293

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byBrett Atkinson28/06/2009

4 out of 5 stars

Sometimes simple is best. Forget your flash super-pubs and snazzy cocktail bars. Sandwiched under the staircase at the back of St Kevin’s Arcade in Karangahape Rd, the Wine Cellar is neither of these, but it’s still one of Auckland’s best little bars.

Instead of million dollar makeovers, the Wine Cellar makes do with old sofas from your last (current?) student flat, rugs on concrete floors, and simple tables and benches. That just shows you what a warm welcome, a focus on good indie rock –live and recorded – and an eclectic approach to drinks can do.

Too many places around town offer the same old, same old selection of draught beer, so it’s a tasty surprise to be offered a few hard to find microbrews from down the line. I order a pint of Croucher’s hoppy Pale Ale from Rotorua and wait on my Borneo-bound drinking companions. There’s also apple or feijoa cider available, and a concise, but considered selection of wines from New Zealand, Argentina and Spain. By the glass, everything’s well priced at an arts-student friendly seven to eleven bucks. Bar snacks include plates of olives, sundried tomatoes and cheese.

By around 8pm the place is packed, not bad for a freezing cold night when half the country is at home looking forward to wining $36 Million big ones on Big Wednesday. The music’s slowly getting ratcheted up, and already I’ve heard loads of personal favourites like Beck and Elvis Costello. Along with Whammy Bar just upstairs, the Wine Cellar is a popular venue for live performance. In the case of the Wine Cellar that means an emphasis on spoken word stuff like original poetry and acoustic singer-songwriter nights. A revolving ad hoc gallery of local art and photography keeps the décor fresh.

It’s all nicely bohemian with a grungy, student tinge, and the Wine Cellar actually feels more like an underground bar in San Francisco or Berlin. The lack of windows means it won’t be a great option during an Auckland summer, but in the middle of winter don’t be surprised to find me there on a regular basis.

Wine Cellar has been reviewed by 3 users

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