So there I was, in the dark, with my girl, with a drink.
When I consider a bar I try and get past my biases and judge it on what it sets itself up to be.
Regular readers may recall my reflections on the types of bars when I first experienced the QT Canberra a few months back when it launched.
On the night I was there the showcase bar, Lucky’s, wasn’t open, so I was keen to experience it when I was back in town.
Besides, its always best to wait a month or two before heading to a place, especially for reviewing purposes, its nonsensical to rate a place on its first day or week when they are out to impress, or haven’t got organised yet.
At the time I wondered aloud if their artistic aspirations for the guest experience could be achieved locally, and maintained at the standard the brand has set itself up to achieve, but I’m all for ambition and excellence in bar experiences.
So, its Friday night, I’ve been out of town for several weeks and haven’t seen my lovely wife for quite a while, so I’m a rather good mood. A quick response from the QT people via twitter made me choose the place over some of the other Civic bars I was considering and so here we are.
Through the barber shop and into the bar.
It’s loud, and its dark with spotlights effects that wouldn’t be out of place in the DMZ. A few roped off areas for groups and its just past 5pm and still plenty of empty tables. We’re greeted at the door and shown to a table. One is in the dark, the one next to it is under said spot light, not very romantic, so I opt for the dim version.
We’re informed there is table service and considered the drinks menu.
Then we wait. We also get the torch app going to read the menu its so dark, and then give up and move to another table closer to the bar with some light.
We wait a bit more -say over 15 minutes- and eventually I head over to the bar (mind I can see the staff chatting away, presumably getting organised for the evening- I hope) and ask if I order. The nice chap says, ‘there is table service and they’ll be right over’, but then takes the order anyways, I have the impression its happened before.
So we wait some more, its not busy yet about 5.30pm now, we’ve a bit to catch up on, but its loud like I said, sort of night club volume, I presume to create atmosphere, but all it does it make it hard to communicate to each other and the staff.
As I looked about, I noticed that the promised table service wasn’t happening for many others (see pic left) with about a dozen people placing orders at the bar, noting also there were little lights at the bar so people could read the menus. Perhaps an after market modification.
Guests had occupied the our original table next to us and had their torch app out too in order to read- blurry pic left sort of shows this…. not the contrasting light vibe a few metres away.
Our drinks arrive after about 10 minutes and they are excellent (dry Plymouth Gin Martini for me, and barrel aged Old Fashioned for her, about $38.00 for both as I recall).
Really good cocktails- so full points there.
So there is design and considered ambience, and then there is practicality and customer comfort. One is winning out over the other there in this case.
Oh, and what I can’t show you here, but if you head over to the Canberra Martini facebook page you’ll see a quick video of our wobbly table.
Underwhelmed is one word that comes to mind, not at all as advertised you might say.
So an off night, or a case of promises not kept by the brand that aims to be an exclusive and polished bar experience?