One of the newest additions to Downtown Tauranga is a cool bar and eatery that fills a demand for both after work drinks and get-togethers and more planned dining.
With a thoughtful selection of wines, craft beer and whisky and a varied menu from snacks and platters to full meals, this will please many a palate. Oozing character, with ambient lighting, the decor is creatively designed with the master touch of John Darke interiors, with areas to stand, sit at the bar or around tables, or in a more cosy sofa area.
With an area for live music and a relaxed vibe, it is fast becoming a Tauranga hotspot and the night we were there was busy but with room for all.
On the menu
We started off as every good night should with a rack each of beer for BK and wine for me. The tasting racks are a great way to sample some different drops, and I discovered a new Chardonnay, Ant MacKenzie Theory and Practice, that I will definitely be returning for.
The wine list is diverse and inventive, with a wide selection of favourites and also some different varieties including chenin blanc, albarino, pinot blanc, gruner veltliner and viognier.
BK was treated to a rack of some diverse beers selected by the knowledgeable owner and staff who are constantly sourcing new beers. The beer menu includes 16 taps, and some crowd pleasers as well as constantly changing drops for connoisseurs and simply those in search of the perfect pint.
Owner Dave Stanway is passionate about sharing his knowledge of finely crafted drinks, and The Barrel Room also offers one-hour guided tastings of hand-crafted beer, wine or spirits showcasing great producers from New Zealand and around the world in which you can learn about the history, production methods, regions and styles while sampling the range, as well as nibbles.
This is proving popular with businesses and groups, said Stanway.
While sampling our drinks we shared a Barrel Room platter which would be a meal in itself, and perfect for after work drinks when you want something to eat but do not want to fill up on just nuts and chips.
With tasty crumbed fish, tender calamari, a selection of cured meats and cheeses along with breads and crackers, olives, pickled vegetables and gherkins, this will delight all grazers. It is hard to go wrong with a platter that varied but you can also build your own platter to suit tastes. The main meals all have beverage pairing suggestions.
We shared a Gourmet Steak Sandwich ($18 of scotch fillet, caramelised onion, salad and aoili on toasted focaccia with thick crunchy fries). There are also a selection of burgers including a vegetarian one, as well as nachos and wedges. You cannot beat a good steak sandwich and this one did not disappoint.
There is an extensive pizza menu and we split the Wharf: Wharf, with garlic prawns, cherry tomato, red onion topped with extra virgin olive oil and thyme.
With juicy prawns and the subtle fragrance of herbs it was succulent tasty and fresh.
Value for money
All the pizzas are made on site and from just $12 are remarkably well priced. Stanway has nailed a menu that offers quality but at a price that means you can economically eat with your drinks for much less than going out to a restaurant. The burgers are also $18.
Friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. With the long bar you will not wait for a drink and not just Stanway but all the staff can talk you through recommended wines and beers as well as make suggestions to pair with your food.
The Barrel Room is what Tauranga was missing - something that pleases those who want something different to drink, and value for money. With music nights, quiz nights, tastings and food specials, it is not surprising it has become one of Tauranga's faves.