Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Everybody's Bar & Bistro - Imperial Lane

Looking at the bar.  Entrance on the left and dining area to the
right.  Note the sudden change into the wooden flooring on a
downhill slope - I nearly fell over TWICE! They need to stop
polishing the floor :p so be careful if you wear high heels like
I do, ladies and gents!

Looking for something hip and yet retro with a twist of glamour to relax with your group of friends?  Look no further!  Come to Everybody's at the newly opened Imperial Building, Auckland CBD.  You can access through 44 Queen Street or 7 Fort Lane.  After an afternoon spent looking at the exhibition "Degas to Dali" at the Auckland Art Gallery, this was a lovely place to chillaxe and finish off the Sun afternoon/evening.  Although I have to admit, I only had drinks and tapas there, so cannot comment about their dinner, but the drinks and service was excellent!  Everybody's and Roxy's Executive Chef is Sean Marshall who was the Head Chef at Wellington's iconic Matterhorn while the drinks are designed by Riki carter, who also according to the website is the Cocktail and Spirits Ambassador of Matterhorn, which could help explain why their menu design, layout and style looked familiar...like the one I saw in Matterhorn, Cuba St. Wellignton!

The first impression to anything or anyone is always the most important.  My first impression was that the place is elegant, fashionable and yet not too posh.  The overall experience was top rated, helped by the excellent service.  When we arrived and were offered to be seated, and water was brought over to our table promptly.  The waitress after hearing that this was our first visit took the time to explain to us the history of the Imperial Building - it once housed the Roxy and Everybody's Theatre and recently had a $13-million makeover.  The Imperial Building now houses the Imperial Lane (cafe on the ground level), Roxy (fine dining restaurant) and Everybody's Bar and Bistro.  If you're interested in the new architecture check it out here.  The waitress then offered us to take a look around the upstairs area even though it was reserved for a wedding photo shoot later.  I have to note, we did arrive about 3pm, when it was pretty quiet so we were well attended to.  Even saying so, it was great to see the staffs taking the time to make sure you're settled and more importantly, we had a very entertaining waitress!  She even bought over free sample of Pinot Noir that she became infatuated with recently and introduced to us a little about the wine, which was great as I hadn't try that particular wine before.  I was drinking the 2010 Mt Difficulty 'Roaring Meg' Pinot Noir, delicious!

One of the six bar seating areas.  The seats were leather and comfy, just needing it some
back support there.  I like how they "closed" this little area with just a simple design
featuring a row of plants, an attempt to make it outdoor without deterring from the
glamorous vibe. 

When outing with friends, I really enjoy a good quality wine, and here at Everybody's the wine menu didn't disappoint.  They stock mostly local NZ wines and also added a few overseas varieties that you can have in individual "glass" rather than having to buy a whole bottle.  Sometimes when you're out with a group of friends, everyone has different liking and taste for wine and so you find that you have to opt for your second choice just because your first choice only comes in a bottle,  however, you probably won't find this to be a problem at Everybody's.

Now comes to the only negative part of my review...I didn't 100% enjoy their tapas.  We ordered the "Crab Toastie", "Duck liver & cognac parfait, brioche, pear chutney" and "Tokyo Chicken".  Soon after we received our food, the manager came around once and check that everything was to our satisfaction and anything else we were in need of, which I believe is very important part of hospitality that are lacking in many "posh" restaurants in New Zealand, so kudos on that part.  Aside from this, it is very disappointing when you're at a place drinking delicious wine to be then accompanied with food that do not match the quality wine selection, friendly staff or great atmosphere.  I am sure the chef used the freshest crab in the "Crab Toasties", made their own brioche, but for $14 per dish that was an okay price for size of the food but not for the delivery of the food.  Okay I ADORE CRAB!  Crab is light and delicate and I found by putting it in the butter-rich brioche then "toast" it, I couldn't really enjoy the crab.  It was very nicely toasted, well done on that.  However, if the bistro did indeed have fresh quality crabs, wouldn't it be better turning into other succulent dishes that will bring out the natural sweetness and the delicate texture of the crab?  It was about this time when we need another glass of wine.  T'was great to see the waitress watching our glasses attentively and promptly asked whether we would like another one and collected the empty glasses swiftly.

Upstairs: Love the rich red coloured couches and that luxurious teal couch on the right
hand side, a great contrast yet fitting with the wooden flooring.  When I go back next
time, I want to sit on those couches!

Oh the duck liver & cognac parfait...I heart parfait and I think the chef did very well here.  The parfait was smooth and light textured with intense liver flavour that was not overpowering, as it can sometimes happen when they get the balance wrong.  I just wished there were more brioches to go with it... or should I say better brioches... I wouldn't say I am a brioche expert, but I've had enough brioches in my time to say the one I had from Everybody's bistro was below par.  There are many styles of brioches, some are savoury and some are sweet.  The accompanied brioche for the parfait was thin, and so crumbly that I spent more times picking up the crumbles from the table than eating it.  I didn't really feel the "richness" that usually comes with brioches.  The parfait was slightly sweet; together with the pear chutney just did not match well with the brioche which was also slightly sweet.

Cute and cosy two-person seating for people who just 
want to enjoy a couple of drinks and nibbles.  The 
seating allows you to look down into the dining area,
I think this is a fabulous design and great use of space.
Lastly the Tokyo Chicken - the friend I was there with was as puzzled as I was about what exactly is a Tokyo chicken?  On the menu there was no description of what it is, a very negative part of their menu as there are other items that you would not be able to guess from its name alone.  When we asked the waitress she described it, as I quote "like popcorn chicken from KFC"...I thought it was cute and humours but why would I want to pay $12 for popcorn chicken when I can get it for $5.50 from KFC?  Also the description was not very helpful from the waitress.  Wished she knew more about the dish.  It was basically bite size chicken meat, lightly coated with flour and herbs, deep fried and served with what I suspect was Japanese mayo.  The dish was good, not mind blowing but not bad.

At the end of the evening there was a DJ entertaining us with some hip music, wish they would play Jazz...but that's just me!  Not sure how loud this place will become with the music and people chattering, with a high roof and wooden flooring I suspect there isn't  much sound dampening available here so you may struggle to hear when the crowd gets bigger.  So if you finding it hard to hear for all sort of reasons or just like to enjoy chit-chatting rather yelling at your friends, there is an outdoor option for the clear and sunny occasions.  Nevertheless, I think this is a lovely place to hang out whether you're in a small or large group.


FOOD: The tapas were okay.
PRICE: Reasonable.
WINE SELECTION: Very good selection.
SERVICE: Excellent!
ATMOSPHERE: Glamorous! and I really enjoyed the grandeur design of this place with tasteful furniture.

Summary: So here you go my personal review.  I have also read reviews from others on the website and unfortunately, majority aren't so good so far, however, it is still early days!  Personally, I would return and be soaked up in the atmosphere with excellent service and drink my wine but will try out other tapas dish.  For the next visit I would like to sit on the comfy couches upstairs and try out the duck fat potatoes, surely you cannot go wrong with anything fried in duck fat especially potatoes!


  1. And with excellent service and atmosphere you're willing to give them a second chance to bring their food to standard. Let's hope that the next time the whole list are outstanding :)

  2. yes, I am very much hoping the food will improve by next time when I visit :) if food doesn't improve then this will be just another good place to "drink" after work, which will be a pity since I really like Matterhorn!