Pub spy: Charlie Baxter's, Ellerslie

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Address: 121 Main High-way, Ellerslie
Ph: (09) 525 2522
Website: charliebaxters.co.nz
Open: Monday-Saturday 3pm-late.

Shane Brogan of Charlie Baxter's Bar, Ellerslie. Photo / Doug Sherring
Shane Brogan of Charlie Baxter's Bar, Ellerslie. Photo / Doug Sherring

This little bar, tucked away on Ellerslie's Main Highway, used to be called Lube.

And believe me, the name didn't go anywhere near describing the sleaziness of the place, where it was perfectly possible to trip over a copulating couple en route to the toilets.

It had a seedy charm, I suppose, but it was just the type of place where you'd wipe your feet after leaving.

So it was a lovely surprise to walk into a cool little cocktail-cum-wine bar and find a complete renovation job.

It looks great.

It's split into three separate areas, with the front bar area decorated with nice, rough-washed walls and distressed furniture.

Jam jars also seem to be something of a theme, with a great bank of bulbs using them as shades.

Next is what looks like a trophy room from a Kiwi villa sometime in the 1950s; a stag's head, outdoor gear and vintage furniture pack the place, while the last area looks like a museum exhibit of what a living room used to look like.

An old radio, old telly and more old furniture round out the retro look.

But we're not here just to look at the place.

The beer is functional, rather than exhaustive and the same could probably be said of the wine list, which features too many by-the-numbers choices.

However, the cocktail list is packed with classics and twists on these are readily available. The spirit selection is classy, too.

Food is at the nibbly end of the scale, but the choices are great and well-priced, while the service is cheerful, smiley, polite and efficient.

All in all, it's a cracking little bar and it offers drinks specials to help out in these straitened times as well, which is a nice touch.

It's a world away from what it used to be and for once I'm delighted to see how much things have changed.

I'll be back.

Scores

Service: 4/5
Drink: 3/5
Menu: 4/5
Atmosphere: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

- Herald on Sunday

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