265 Ponsonby Road,
The ViewAuckland Review
4 out of 5
Psst! Has anyone seen Dorothy? She used to be a regular at the perfectly proportioned bar called Surrender Dorothy, but there's a rumour going around that she kicked Toto into touch, and then waltzed off red shoes in hand down the Yellow Brick Rd with the Wizard.
OK, that's enough of the tortured Wizard of Oz analogies. The good news is that the team behind the wildly popular Surrender Dorothy is back in a new and equally fabulous space further along Ponsonby Rd. And according to the finely crafted fictional back story, Dorothy's younger sibling, (an ex bordello madam no less), was recruited to set the new bar up. Her influence is clear with theatrical decor that combines sparkly heels (alas no red shoes), lush swathes of satin and silk, and ironic little touches like chandeliers and a disco mirror ball in a birdcage.
Owner Peter Taylor has set up Dorothy's Sister as a safe and welcoming neighbourhood bar for Auckland's Gay, Lesbian and Transgender community, and on a Saturday night just two days after opening, a mixed age crowd is confiding over a concise wine list and classic cocktails. We choose a shaken margarita and a chocolate martini, both tasty (and strong) enough to wish we could defer an impending dinner reservation and stay for another drink. The barman casually proffers "TLC" as the secret of a great cocktail, and he could be right. Maybe it's that and a soundtrack of classic 1980s disco and a few black feather boas scattered liberally around the walls.
Just like the bordello madam the bar is named after, Dorothy's Sister is thoroughly versatile and effortlessly down to earth. A few bars along Ponsonby Rd can be a tad pretentious, but Dorothy's Sister is totally unassuming and infused with a friendly vibe. During the day it's a cafe with a brunch and lunch menu, and later on it expands into a restaurant with simple meals all priced at less than twenty dollars. Upstairs is a slightly more formal area for dining; with lots of nooks and crannies ideal for getting lost in, and during summer the garden courtyard will be a good place to escape the bustle of Ponsonby Rd.
Year round, expect the energetic hub of Dorothy's Sister to be the downstairs bar area, and in a few weeks (and probably a few hours later) we won't be surprised if it eclipses the dazzling reputation of its older sister.
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