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It's not often I get down to the bustling metropolis of Manukau, but when I do I invariably need a beer.
This is no reflection on Manukau itself, which I think is a lovely place, but during an hour or two of shopping you work up a thirst.
This time around I was in company, so we plumped for the handy and inviting-looking Republic, which is part of the big mall there. It doesn't feel like a mall bar, though, partly because it opens on to the street, making it feel a little bit more like a real bar.
It's comfortable too, although the outside seats are quite high, so balance is an essential requirement. We ordered some grub from the quite extensive (and quite expensive, the small plates start at about $18 and the 600g steak is $49.50) menu and a few libations to keep our throats lubricated as we talked.
I wouldn't have thought it could take so long to organise a beer and a bottle of wine, but they were finally delivered with an apology and good grace.
But the pace of the service never really got running - a brisk walk was all the staff could raise.
The food was good, much better than it looked. The presentation could do with a little work but the flavours were excellent. The drinks were fine, too, but more choice would have made all the difference. The ho-hum factor was high on the wine list, although there were some gems. The beer selection was what we've come to expect from a DB bar, so Tiger and Erdingerbrau were prominent. I will give them points for having the low-alcohol Amstel Light on tap.
The place was clean and well-presented and offers plenty of things to draw the punters in during the week, so it's more than merely a mall bar. If it could just wind up the service speed a little and find some way of injecting a little atmosphere into its daytime ambience it would be a fine spot to escape from shopping.