YOU have to hand it to the designers of what is arguably Nelson Mandela Bay's poshest pub – they've managed, with just a few strategic features, to whisk you away to an exotic country.
It's even more witty in a way because – for the City Slukker in any case – that country could be anywhere on the planet.
India? Thailand? Morocco? Even the island of Mustique, perhaps?
Not that the Tshawe Bar in the new Boardwalk Hotel and Spa has any of those direct influences. Not in the least.
But it sets the kind of standard you would expect to find in any five-star international establishment's lounge and bar, with its impeccable style, restraint, elegant but utterly practical furnishings, and a calm ambience that is created by a mixture of discreetly attentive and articulate staff, and a simple, soothing airiness.
The Slukker suspects that last bit of magic's got something to do with the gentle lighting and the fact that instead of being enclosed by solid walls, it is largely divided from the hotel lounge and foyer by glass. But who knows? Who cares? The thing is, it works.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, try it out for yourself. CS reckons that sluk will go down just that extra bit smoothly.
Naturally, of course, you're going to have to dig a little deeper into your pocket, but hey – five-star treatment and atmosphere have a price tag, and in this case it's certainly worth it.
What immediately grabs you as you enter Tshawe is the massive, wall-covering painting behind the lengthy bar counter, which depicts a 19th-century bustling street scene with flower sellers that looks suspiciously like Port Elizabeth's old Main Street – a neatly curious touch.
Elsewhere there are authentic early photographs of PE, mixed with an array of haunting seascape paintings and an assortment of mirrors.
If that sounds a little too overcrowded, strangely it isn't – something to do with those window walls again, CS supposes.
Leather couches and comfy, sensible chairs – also reminiscent of a bygone era, but modern all the same – make the lounge area of the bar an attractive option to enjoy your sluk. But CS – ever dutiful – took his post at the bar where he was greeted by a most amiable barman and, very invitingly, cheerful snack trays of sliced, moist biltong and cocktail nuts. Now that's something the Slukker doesn't see in his city very often!
There's draught on tap – an option of Castle, Amstel, Windhoek and Castle Lite – and while the friendly bar dude battled initially to get that ideal head on a 500ml glass – too much froth to quaff is a no-no – he made sure he eventually got it right.
At 26 bucks not the cheapest, as CS has mentioned, but all the extras from the snacks and snazzy to the snappy and natty make it a fair deal.
What's more, the cocktail menu includes a cigar section – so smokers, you are not outcasts here.
On offer on this colourful sluk list is a Doctor Cuervo (R30), which is tequila based with Amaretto and lemon and cranberry juice, and a Moscow Mule (R40), naturally vodka based with fresh mint, ginger beer, and a dash of bitters. Nice!
Other great touches are a newspaper rack (a welcome change!) and a coffee station (to complement that cigar).
Impressive pozzie this one.
Ice cold draught, promptly served, that is pricey, but of appropriate value given the genuine five-star surroundings and service.
Chic and spotlessly clean ablutions which are clearly checked on frequently.