As the old joke goes, a horse walks into a bar, only to be implored by the barman, 'why the long face?'
I know it's silly to analyze, but boy, do I feel bad for that sorry creature. Insult upon entry?
Clearly, he didn't choose the right bar.
As the weather grows warmer and the holiday season burdens you with oppressive amounts of shopping, fear not. Help is on its way. Tucked up on Little Lonsdale Street and a world away from the nearby QV madness lies Horse Bazaar, where long faces are most welcome. It might be unusual to admit that while I've been there several times, not once have I been there at night, but this is testament to its chilled, effortless cool. It's a rare beast indeed: industrial chic with a familiar dose of retro comfort. It's also probably the only place you could see a large indoor plant surrounded by a flourish of iron light fittings and not wonder if you'd unwittingly signed yourself up as an extra in a C-grade Sci Fi.
(That said, if Horse Bazaar was a C-grade Sci Fi I have no doubt that it would somehow make it work.)
I found myself there recently with a friend. It was a sweltering day, our initial choice of watering hole had turned out to be closed, and so we'd been hungry, hot and very bothered ... and desperately in need of a drink. Fortunately, within pretty much no time we had found ourselves standing at the bar, eyes glazing over at the sight of so many liqueurs. Crisis averted! This barman wasn't going to ask any irritating questions. And even better, just between you and me, he was hot to trot.
Choosing what to eat was almost as difficult as choosing a drink.
The menu was full of Japanese bar snacks at bargain-basement prices, and hefty wagyu beef baguettes for $6 beckoned from the countertop. In the end we decided on a couple of things to share: edamame (soy beans), okonomiyaki (pancake), donburi (stir-fried vegetables on rice with sauce) and some very tasty pan-fried gyoza (dumplings). I don't speak Japanese or any semblance of it, but for some reason, ordering all of this without a hitch made me feel like a winner.
And moments later, with a cool pint of Asahi by my side, I was on cloud 'kyu'. (That's 'nine'. (Thanks Google.)
The food was good. Better than good, it was everything I wasn't at that precise moment: polished and unpretentious. I, on the other hand, was busy loudly remarking to my lunch date how much I loved every 50s/60s jazz number to emerge through the sound system, that is, after drawing attention to my suitably vintage Japanese threads, while simultaneously attempting to maneuver my gyoza with chopsticks to look cool for the rather etherial bartender. It was a fail on all counts, but it didn't matter. The tunes were subdued enough for a decent chat and the food was so tasty and so generous that I ended up feeling like I'd eaten a ... you know. Please pardon the pun. (Again.)
While I can't yet confirm this with personal experience, I hear that when the sun goes down, Horse Bazaar
kicks up its heels and becomes quite the party animal. What I can confirm is that it's an excellent all-rounder with a 'bazaar' but charming sense of style to boot.
A horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless it is a bar
. And if it's this one, I'd say you've backed a winner.