Is there anything as good as a busy bar?
I don't mean a packed one, with sharpened elbows everywhere, but a bar that has something going on every night. The Thirsty Dog serves up plenty to do all week, from poetry nights and folk evenings to dub and ska sessions, all in the comfortable environs of a spacious bar.
I'll get the whinge out of the way first: service. It can be good and it can be non-existent. On my first visit I had to wait while the barman talked on and on to someone on the other end of the phone, while I waited to give him money. Eventually, his high-level discussions with President Obama concluded and I was able to get a beer.
And very good it was, too. The bar's own beer (made by Hawke's Bay Independent Brewery) is excellent, with a pils, pale ale, porter and double-hopped reserve ale on tap and all at reasonable prices.
The spirit and wine offerings also are fine, but the beer is really the hero.
And the kitchen deserves a mention, with some cracking made-on-the-premises pies available, although these sell out quickly, so get in early, like sometime close to opening time.
Overall, it's a good bar, serving great beer. If it could just get the service right, this would be really getting up there.