Robertson Quay spills over with reliably expensive bars to entrap thirsty bypassers. Gallery Hotel’s eM by the River maximises on its location with smart/casual chic; Brussels Sprouts packs in the beery and cheery; the cavernous Boomarang is a magnet for boozy Aussies; Hannibal’s keep-it-simple chillout spot entices people-watchers. Yet none of these watering holes generates any real buzz, or flaunts a modern, eye-catching aesthetic.
The Timbre group’s TaKe has the latter in spades, but the word’s not getting round just yet. An enormous, ‘bamboo-themed’ rooftop sprawl extended across several levels, it’s by far the largest of three bars/eateries affiliated to Studio M – a boast that’s both a draw and a downside. At the launch party, belly dancers sashayed and musicians played didgeridoo-enhanced techno (better than it sounds, incidentally); beautiful people filled every available inch. But come on a weeknight and its vast expanse swallows you up in dimly lit solitude, your only solace being the decent-enough drinks list and charming-to a-fault wait-staff. Don’t come here for a quiet cocktail – you’ll get lost.
TaKe tries to be all things to all people. It’s a gym, a sundeck, a monument to design. There are huge U-shaped private cabanas with comfy sofas, and a bar area topped with what looks like a massive amoeba. There are running machines, a 25m-long lap pool, water features everywhere and diverse cubbyholes strewn across split-level decking. Seats are either giant, gaudy armchairs, wickerwork affairs or doll’s-house-tiny wooden numbers. It all seems scattershot and out of proportion. The toilets are ridiculously small, barely large enough to swing your schlong, let alone a cat.
The cocktails do hit the spot: the house speciality, the Studio M Swizzle, is essentially a glorified mojito, but with its lingering honeyed sweetness no less delightful and refreshing for that, while the strawberry margarita was a fabulously fruity-sweet concoction. But better-than-average drinks, tasteful tapas infused with French/Japanese flavours and lavish surrounds only pull the punters if there’s an ulterior motive. It’s a party venue, plain and simple: TaKe it or leave it. Jonathan Evans
House wines $12 per glass; $60 per bottle. Cocktails $15-$21.