In the fine tradition of the rugby cliche this is very much a bar of two halves. Near the foot of Mangere Mountain, I had seen this place from the motorway every time I'd gone to the airport, so when the chance presented itself, I decided I'd drop in to see what it had on offer.
And the answer was: quite a lot, really. Now make no mistake - this is an unashamedly old-fashioned tavern, from its huge car park to its TAB/pokie double whammy in the downstairs sports bar. It also has a more formal lounge bar upstairs (which is technically the MBT, as the downstairs bar is known as the Wanderers Sports Bar).
And downstairs is certainly traditional, with its emphasis on the holy trinity of Kiwi blokedom - rugby, racing and beer. The rugby part is extensive, with a wealth of memorabilia and photos lining the walls. In fact, I haven't seen such a comprehensive collection since I last visited the New Zealand Rugby Museum.
It wasn't crowded, but there were three men staring intently at the racing in the corner when I went in. The pokie room was packed, however, presumably because the jackpot was rapidly swelling towards the point where one lucky bugger walks off with almost a grand, while the others try their best to look happy for the winner.
To my snobbish surprise, the service was much better than I had expected and all in all reflected the friendliness of the bar. People nodded greetings to me and everyone seemed to be having a good time, which is what a bar is all about.
The drinks selection was modest, but what it lacked in depth it made up for in price, with some of the best prices I've seen in Auckland for a beer.
The food was pretty much what you'd expect, but it looked great and, again, it was attractively affordable.
The MBT is well kept, clean, tidy and friendly, but most of all it is an excellent example of the classic Kiwi tavern. It might not be all flash and funky, but they do what they do very well and long may they continue to do so.