Address: Shakespeare Hotel & Brewery, 61 Albert St, Auckland
Hours: 9am-late, restaurant noon-9pm seven days a week,
Phone: (09) 373 5396
It had been a long time since I'd set foot in the Shakespeare tavern and, to be honest, I wasn't sure of the reception I'd get.
You see, some time ago, I had visited here and slated it in my subsequent review as being tired, lacklustre and running out of ideas, so it was interesting to come back and see what had changed in the interim.
Thankfully, quite a bit, as it turns out. The most important element of this change is that the Shakes is brewing its own beer again. In fact, it was this that made me return to try the pub again and I'm delighted I did.
In its heyday, the Shakespeare produced a range of interesting, rewarding, English-style ales, all inspired by Shakespearean characters.
I fell in love with the Falstaff ale when I arrived in Auckland.
Sadly, Falstaff isn't on tap anymore but the beers that are available are impressively reminiscent of the glory days, while retaining an individuality of their own. Certainly, I could drink the South Star pale ale for quite some time before even thinking about trying something else.
The service was great, too, and it was nice to be greeted with a smile and a pleasant inquiry about how I might be helped, rather than a shrug and a snarl. Indeed, the enthusiasm and work rate I noticed behind the bar has markedly improved since my last visit and so has the general atmosphere as a result.
Tables were cleaned promptly and efficiently by the staff, glasses were collected and the burgeoning crowd at the bar was being served in good time, which is how it should be.
I still have a few issues with the Shakespeare, but they are fairly minor.
The upstairs loos are still medieval (but at least they smell of disinfectant now), the wine list is pretty small and unimaginative and the other beers on tap are pretty uninspiring.
But the Shakespeare is heading back towards its glory days by concentrating on good beer and providing good food at a fair price.
It's good to see it become once again the sort of pub that offers the chance to while away happy hours with interesting beer.