Address: 16 Elizabeth St, Warkworth
Ph: (09) 425 8351
Open: Seven days, 11am till late
It's hard to miss the Bridgehouse as you tootle through the infuriating traffic of a Warkworth weekend.
Stretched cosily along the main street, it seems to be an almost automatic place to pull over and have a little respite from the slow-chugging frustration that is driving through the otherwise charming town.
The Bridgehouse been around for a while, too. Although it hasn't always been a bar, it's been a fixture in the town for more than 150 years, so it's almost a bit odd that I haven't reviewed it before.
Walking in is a pleasant experience, with a wide and welcoming bar greeting you. It's a big space inside, but somehow manages to be spacious and intimate, with nice furniture, a stone fireplace and plenty of exposed wood.
It was quite busy when I went, with a few locals mixing with the travellers making one last lunge at the weekend before hitting the motorway back to Auckland, reality and work. Still, that didn't prevent the staff from serving me promptly and with just the right level of friendliness.
The drink selection was fine, too, with pretty standard tap and bottled beers, but a nice smattering of local wines on the wine list.
Food was popular, with every table laden with plates and the ribs were a clear favourite. The prices weren't at all bad and the choice was interesting, with unexpected delights alongside the more traditional pub fare.
The best bit of the Bridgehouse for me, though, was the garden bar, a lovely, leafy area overlooking the Mahurangi River, where you could quite happily spend a good few hours sluicing down your lunch with a few restorative ales.
And another bonus - if your sluicing involves a few ales too many, you can always book a room and leave for work on Monday morning.