The Three Lamps, 1-3 St Marys Rd, Ponsonby
Hours: 7 days from 11am
Ph: (09) 376 6092

I had a strong sense of deja vu when I entered this bar recently and, what's more, I knew I was going to have that feeling. I don't know whether that makes it deja-deja vu, deja vu-vu or deja voodoo, but this place was eerily familiar. And why wouldn't it be? After all, it had a reasonably long history as a Belgian beer bar and, for all the name and theme changes, precisely nothing has been done to make it look any different.

The space was the same, the outdoor area was the same, the toilets and even the bar - I was beginning to think I'd missed something until I noticed the beer taps and realised what the difference was.

No longer simply a Belgian beer bar, The Three Lamps is now a craft beer bar, with a bewildering array of beers, many of them handily on tap. Where once the ritual pouring of Stella Artois took centre stage, the new superstars of the beer world now do their thing.

It's a pretty remarkable change. In the old days, this bar had a book listing bottled Belgian beers that would bring tears of joy to the most jaded drinker. Today, the beer list is almost as impressive, but the sources are different. There are still Belgian beers, but they have been joined by drops from Taranaki, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and pretty much everywhere else that makes beer, here and abroad.


With some 200-odd beers listed, it's nothing if not comprehensive. Although holding that many beers, you do wonder how fresh some of the less-popular ones are, but I'm sure they know what they are doing.

The wine list is interesting, featuring a well-thought-out selection of local favourites alongside more esoteric offerings from overseas. The menu is good-looking, too. The now-obligatory sharing plates are to the fore as well as offerings for greedier diners. They're not ripping the guts out of it on prices, either.

Service-wise, I have no complaints, although I would have hoped for a bit more product knowledge from the bartender, whose friendly demeanour and ready smile couldn't quite hide that she didn't know too much at all about the beers she was serving.

Still, it's not a bad little spot, even if the unchanged decor gives you flashbacks to its previous incarnation.

Service: 3
Menu: 4
Drink: 4
Atmosphere: 3

Overall: 3.5