There has been lots of chat about the revamped Victoria Park Market and we turn up half expecting to find it all up and running. No such luck - there are several restaurants, bars and cafes and a smattering of shops - but the prospects are exciting and the market website has next April as completion time.
It can't come soon enough for already established businesses that have seen the deadline repeatedly pushed back.
The Oak Room, named for its floor and furniture, is housed in what originally was one of the stables for the 94 horses that brought the city's rubbish carts to be unloaded before the market's landmark, the Destructor, a 38-metre-high chimney capable of burning 14.5 tonnes of detritus every day. The pong must also have been high.
The interior of the bar is a big, open space, daunting when you are the only two, but it would be the ticket for group events. Outside is better for our lunch, with low seats, high stools, shade and a lovely view across to the park and the giant London plane trees. There is a murmur of traffic, but the sight is hidden by roofs of the construction site below us.
The menus have winey quotes at the bottom of each page and although the idea is fine, the application is lacking in a couple of instances - ie, "Penicilin [sic] cures but wine makes people happy" is attributed to Alexander Flemming (sic) - whatever happened to sub-editing?
Right on the mark, however, is the waitress, who is friendly, informative and has the ability to make one feel relaxed and happy.
We order and as we put the pre-Christmas world to rights over a glass of rose, it feels a little like being on holiday: the sun is shining, we are up high - almost among the trees - in surroundings that are almost foreign.
The garlic bread is crisp pizza and perfect with my "Oak Room take" on caesar salad: butter crunch lettuce leaves over a white platter with croutons, crisp bacon rashers and parmesan.
We are regularly topped up with iced water. Sir has the beer-battered fish with shoestring fries and tartare sauce.
The menu is small, with fish, chicken, beef and pizzas (oddly the online menu is different), but after all, it is a bar and food is only part of the deal. I toy with the idea of a limoncello truffle, but they have run out so I am saved from myself. We settle for two coffees.
THE OAK ROOM
WHERE: 17 Drake St, Victoria Park Market, Auckland, ph 09 300 6313, oakroom.co.nz
WHEN: Monday to Sunday, 11am until late.
WHAT'S TO EAT: Gastro bar: Sharing plates, pizzas.
HOW MUCH: $90 for two lunches, three glasses of wine and two coffees.
WHAT DO WE THINK: Great spot for group events. Lovely view.
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