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A thief in the night

By Heather 6 May 2015 • 2 Comments


Someone has stolen away Vivo on Edward Street and given us Thief bar in return.

Jeremy and friends have moved from Christchurch and want to bring you a bar with southern city style. Thief is aimed at 25’s+ who want to enjoy good cocktails, interesting wines, quality food and evening tunes, with a DJ cranking up from 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

These guys have run bars previously (evident in the customer service), and have stolen away the Executive Sous chef from the Bolton Hotel (evident in the food).

They’re honouring the Vivo history by retaining the large cellar and Italian-style tasting plates, although upgrading those to be more ‘premium’. And the décor is now a ‘Dickensian Workshop combined with Victorian Library’ to create a thieve’s lair. A definite speakeasy ambiance.

Many of the cocktails are garnished with house-grown herbs, or include their own vanilla-infused vodka and rum. Other interesting ingredients were the walnut bitters in The Orleans Mule, real chilies in The Swindler’s Mojitos (pictured), and sherry soaked raisins in the Rum and Raisin Old Fashioned, purported to taste like grandma (we had a good old giggle about how that might have been researched!). There’s also a range of mostly-local crafty drops for the beer fan.

The menu was modified and expanded the day after our visit, but the highlights at the time were the chickpea fries (crispy and fluffy and well matched to a mild garlic custard), the chicken puttanesca skewers (tender and flavourful with tasty caper and olive overtones), and the tiramisu with coffee jelly, chestnut puree and mascarpone custard (pleasing thick texture and nicely balanced flavours).

The carnivore with me even pronounced the chickpea fries as his favourite of the night and finally an acceptable way to eat chickpeas – I nearly fell off my bar stool in shock (yes, the chickpea fries do continue on the menu).

The new items taking my eye include the white bean, ricotta and spiced pumpkin stuffed cabbage; the tuna carpaccio nicoise with a tapenade gel, potato and green bean salad, poached quail egg and dried tomato; and the seared beef with caramelized onion gnocchi, horseradish, wilted greens and beetroot reduction.

This is not a place to come for a big dinner, but a place for delicious tastes to accompany a relaxing drink. It’s likely that the cellar will move more towards NZ and Australian wines over time, and the menu will continue to develop.

On the way out I was tempted to whip away one of the Encyclopedia Britannica’s to reminisce over, but the thieve’s code of conduct on the wall shamed me into behaving. However, I did go away pondering this – were the missing M & W off the toilet door the work of a clever thief or the clever touch of the Thief owner?

7 days, 3pm til late.

Add your comment

  • Heather Clinton 14/05/2015 2:13pm (3 years ago)

    Glad you swindled some fun Michael. Sounds like the additional plates they were adding have hit the mark!

  • Michael Romanos 07/05/2015 4:49pm (3 years ago)

    The meals are a steal at twice the price

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