Diverse, vibrant and forever turning up something new, Ponsonby Road’s Chapel Bar & Bistro serves as a mecca for all who love an experience filled with quality eatin’ and drinkin’. But if you’re new to the city or just haven’t visited the pub on the corner yet, (where have you been?!) we’ve compiled a list of 10 commandments that you should strictly adhere to when visiting, brought together with the help of legendary manager Warren Stewart.
1. Thou shalt celebrate in style
As long as everybody is respectful to one another, according to Warren, most things are tolerated at this thriving spot,”dancing on the tables is encouraged, dancing on the bar is encouraged,” he says. We’re speaking the gospel truth when we say that’s the best thing we’ve heard all week, we’ve been looking for somewhere to raise hell and get our Coyote Ugly on. Celebrating a big occasion? Be sure to order the Veuve Clicquot, it’s the ‘fanciest’ thing on the drinks menu.
2. Thou shalt not try and guess where the bar staff are from
At least, not if you are geographically challenged. “Forty percent of our bar staff are foreigners” explains Warren, “and there’s nothing they hate more than when you poorly misplace their accent.” So a heads up for next time: there’s an American girl who always gets asked which part of Ireland she’s from and an Italian guy who is not, much to people’s surprise, from France. Want to take a whack at their specific place of origin? Know your stuff before naming. If you think Africa is a country or that Toronto is the capital of Canada, it’s probably best to keep your mouth shut.
3. Remember, you can’t get what you don’t ask for
We’re going to let you in on a little secret here, one of the best drinks served at Chapel can’t be found on the menu. Next time you pop in, be sure to ask the bartender nicely for a Jägermeister Negroni, (preferably avoiding any “where are you from” related preamble) — a sweet and spicy kick that’s delivered on the rocks, this housemade cocktail is the drink of choice for when things start getting sinful.
4. Thou shalt not be fooled by the term ‘Bistro’
Yes, Chapel Bar & Bistro is technically the place’s name, but it isn’t simple, café fare you should be expecting here. “We serve restaurant quality food,” explains Warren, “but with bistro prices.” Win, win, in our books.
5. Thou shalt not leave without trying the Stead pizza
It would be a sin to leave the Chapel establishment without having sampled (read: devoured) the Stead pizza. Think tomato-sauce-topped, handmade dough adorned with pepperoni, smoked chicken, roasted peppers and a slathering of housemade BBQ sauce. Short on time or appetite? The cult snacks here are the chicken bites, which, according to Warren, are the most ordered item on the menu. (No judgement for ordering both, of course, gluttony is wholly embraced around these parts.)
6. Thou shalt honour thy drinking neighbour
From labourers to lawyers, people from all walks of life can be found at Chapel, and a devil-may-care attitude is utterly embraced, “we’re the pub on the corner where everybody’s welcome. I don’t care if people have tattoos as long as they show respect, I don’t mind if people are wearing work boots as long as they show respect,” explains Warren. Apparently, you can even bring your dog in too if you wish — just, you know, make sure it shows respect.
7. Remember to sin(g) on the Sabbath day
Located on the front wall of the building, in attention-grabbing lighting is a sign that reads SIN. But look a little further and around the corner, and you’ll spot “G,” the lone ranger that only comes out to play on the Sabbath. Turning our Sundays into Sindays and our sins into sings, each week Chapel bar reprises its karaoke corner, “Sundays are a bit of a free for all,” explains Warren, “the DJ’s start at 3pm and everybody winds up having a go.”
8. Honour thy security and say hello to Norm
Regularly manning the doors of Chapel you’ll find Norm, the bar’s permanent fixture and resident bouncer. Coming in at 5’5 he’s more gentle than giant, (unless, of course, he’s persuaded to be otherwise) and he deserves a bit of some of the aforementioned ‘respect’ too. When you next pop in on a Friday or Saturday night don’t forget to give Norm a bit of love, and be sure to ask him about his hair — he loves his hair.
9. Thou shalt not go unprotected
It’s no secret that Chapel’s sun-drenched social hub, the outdoor banquette, is a serious drawcard come the warmer months. What isn’t as well known, however, is their unwavering desire to make sure our every need is catered for. If these heroes of hospitality spot you sweltering in the sun, a wide brim straw fedora will be dished out immediately, and when the temperatures start to drop come late afternoon, you’ll soon find yourself wrapped up in a warm, red blanket. The fact that this keeps you out there comfortably ordering more drinks is nothing more than an added bonus, of course.
10. Thou shalt not wear a mankini
The dress rules at Chapel are pretty lenient, often there will be “a pair of boots beside a briefcase” and an array of different sorts around. (Refer back to ‘Thou shalt honour thy drinking neighbour.’) Warren does have a few personal tips, though, “don’t wear your cap backwards, make sure you get your jeans measured before you roll them up, and in absolutely no situation is it acceptable to not wear socks with dress shoes.” Oh, and mankini’s aren’t welcome here, apparently. (Sorry, Borat.)
Chapel Bar & Bistro
147 Ponsonby Rd
09 360 4528