Brew Co is not as you remember it.
It has a new executive chef, Sam Terretta, and he has made a world of difference. Maybe it's the time he spent in a Michelin star restaurant.
The faves are all there: crispy salt and pepper calamari, lemon and aioli ($15). But it has also upped its sharing plate game with things like bamboo charcoal prawns, chilli syrup, lime and aioli ($19), and loaded BBQ pulled pork fries - house fries, BBQ pulled pork, crackling, slaw and spring onion ($20).
Brew Co has spruced things up with its 'bowl' options (all $24) - served with all the grains, roast veges, kale, local leaves, hummus, sweet chilli jam, seeds and stuff! Then you choose from Halloumi and Zucchini Fritters, or Falafel, Pumpkin and Beetroot.
It has still got the amazing choice of burgers (all $22), but even they're stepped up to include Korean Fried Chicken or Grilled Halloumi. And of course, the Royale with Cheese!
But you now have an option at Brew Co to have a little nod to some gastro bigger plates.
If I was heading there for a hearty lunch or a cosy dinner, I'd have a crack at the Beef Pie and Fries ($27) - Beef Bourguignon Stew, Puff Pastry and Whipped Potato.
You also have the Taco option (all $19) - three tacos with anything from Prawn or Beer Battered Catch of the Day to Falafel or Halloumi.
We went on a Thursday lunchtime and sat out in the sun on the high tables by the kerb. I always sit outside at Brew Co as it seems like there's this little hum around it no matter what time of the day you go.
The wooden and black décor is trendy and the vibe inside is a cool mix of minimalistic and industrial with wooden and warm. There's cool herringbone walls, a table with fire coming out of it, big wooden tables and leaners and a cosy couple of corners for a cheeky wee date.
They've gotten rid of the pokies. It really opens the space up for dining. There's just the right amount of greenery to freshen up the space without making it feel like a jungle and the music, as always, makes you feel at least 20 per cent cooler than you actually are.
Also, if you haven't experienced a big sport game or a late night out when there's live music at Brew Co then you really are missing out. It's better than it's ever been!
Brew Co lends itself to having a good old share, especially at lunch. So we did!
Let's start with the Taco. They're all served in a three-long taco holder with guacamole, tomato salsa, coriander and salsa verde. We had the 'KFC'.
I love that they called it that! It's Korean Fried Chicken, Kimchi Slaw, Sriracha Mayo. They were the perfect mix of crunch on the outside and succulent. That salsa verde on the side is this amazing mix of slight heat and sweetness, but also has a touch of salt to break the creaminess of the sriracha mayo and guac.
The slaw is nice and crisp, adding to the crunch, and it's all just the right amount of messy.
From the Bar Snacks & Small Plates menu we had the Halloumi Zucchini Fritters - tomato salsa, chilli jam, mint yoghurt ($16). Such a beautiful looking dish, I almost didn't want to disturb it. The fritters are perfectly light and fluffy, but heavy enough to actually make it feel like much more than a snack.
To finish we had the BBQ Pulled Pork, crackling, slaw and aioli burger.
They all come with the house fries - chunky and perfectly cooked. The pulled pork is plump and succulent. The crackling goes perfectly in amongst that, then the fresh slaw gets gives it that kind of zest to cut the heaviness of the meat and fresh bun.
If we had the room we would have chosen the cheeseboard ($25). Brie, raw honeycomb, grapes and crackers. You can also add mature cheddar or blue cheese to it ($15) and get all the dairy you require for the week right there.
I stuck to a refreshing glass of the house rose, Wairau River, delish and crisp in the winter sun. The range of beers is a reason to go alone.
One of the best bits about Brew Co is its chameleon nature. You can have a special meal out, or you can go for a couple of drinks and plates to share. It smashes out the good food and drinks for a big sports game, or you can just go for a feed on a top-class burger.
Sam the chef has just been nominated for Outstanding Chef of the Year for the BOP Hospitality Awards, and you can see why. The new menu is familiar but also has a decent amount of tasty twists to make it memorable.
109 Maunganui Rd
Phone: 07-575 7792