On any given night of the week, you could walk up the stairwell of the Auckland institution known as Cassette Nine and find yourself mingling with a mixed bag of rungs on the social ladder - all thanks to a cleverly scheduled program ranging from risqué bingo to live music as part of the Friday MUM club night. The decor is eccentric but all held together with bunting, festoon lighting and the biggest mirrorball you will ever set your eyes on. And, any place that can pull off jeans as wallpaper has two thumbs up in my book.
Since its inception Cassette's menu has gone through a few facelifts, including classic Italian cuisine to a full on pizza parlor, operating both day and night. As it stands, the menu could be best described as 50s American diner tapas, which features everything from classic burgers to deep fried gerkins and pimp-your-own hotdogs. Heavy on the fried side, apart from a few options, the menu is not one for those trying to count calories.
On this particular Tuesday, the specials, as run over by our extremely friendly waitress Kate, were $2 Tacos (beef or vegetable), usually $12 for two, and two for one burgers ($15) - also available every Thursday. The tacos were suggested as being on the smaller side but were pretty generous considering the tiny price. It seemed to be a reoccurring theme throughout the night with the crispy chicken with homemade aioli and bbq sauce ($10) and crispy calamari with honey and aioli ($10) also both decently sized and damn tasty. We also had sauteed seasonal greens (broccoli) for eight bucks.
The drinks menu is solid and features a good selection of bottled and tap beer, a Castle Point Swappa ($9.50) is a given - it's basically two and a half beers in one. Cocktails are named after classic 80s American sitcoms - the Big Booty Trudy (Miami Vice) is a twist on a classic mojito, consisting of Stolen white rum, lime, mint, berry and hibiscus sugar syrup, which Kate mentioned could be upped if I felt like more sugar. If you're after something a little more straightforward, the menu also has a 'Cool & Easy' section, listed with drinks that the staff can easily whip up, and you can't meander back down the stairs without trying one of the infamous Cassette teapots, which come in a number of styles and range from $14.99 to $20.