Pub Spy: Lovely, with a few wrinkles to iron out

By Don Kavanagh

Pig and Whistle, Rotorua
cnr Haupapoa and Tutanekai Sts, Rotorua
www.pigandwhistle.co.nz

Pig and Whistle needs a wee bit more thought.
Pig and Whistle needs a wee bit more thought.

I don't get to Rotorua much these days, but when I do, I like to know there is somewhere reliably good to have a drink at.

Normally that would be Hennessy's, a cracking bar with a great atmosphere and a decent pint, but on my last visit I was prevailed upon to try somewhere different and so, with the rain lashing down, we scuttled into the Pig and Whistle, which calls itself a "historic" bar.

And fair enough: the building was once the city's police station. But it is a copshop no longer and it now hands out pints rather than infringement notices.

The beer selection is okay, if a little basic. There isn't much in the way of non-mainstream beers and there are very few beers that haven't been brewed by a large commercial concern in New Zealand, regardless of how the pub's website tries to suggest that the Guinness they serve is brewed in Dublin, or that the Becks they sell is made in Bremen.

Still, my pint was very acceptable and the G&T my partner got was nicely done, with decent gin and a good chunk of lemon. Which was good, as the wine list wasn't exactly inspirational, but maybe I've just become spoiled by drinking in Auckland bars where the demand for top-end pinot noir seems unquenchable. We ordered food to go with our drinks, mostly because I was so hungry I could have eaten the decorations off a hearse. I would probably have enjoyed them more, to be honest, as my pizza was something of a curate's egg - fine in places.

Clearly microwaved, it was volcanically hot in spots and stone cold in others, while the prawn and calamari salad was substantially more salad than prawn and calamari.

Still, the curly fries were nice and the garlic bread lovely, so maybe it was an off day for the chef.

It was a shame, because otherwise things had been fine; the service was great, the atmosphere was good and I loved the look of the place.

But the food was lying heavily on me and being forced to stand on the street for a smoke - there was no smoking area apparent - made me feel uneasy.

So, a lovely place with a few wrinkles to iron out, I think. It could be an absolute gem of a place with a little more thought about what is on offer and how it is being offered.

- Herald on Sunday

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