Herald rating: * * * 1/2
Address: Cnr Seddon & Tobin Lanes (behind the ANZ) Phone: 09 238 3931

I was lamenting the shortage of decent steakhouses in and around Auckland to a hunting-fishing friend of mine. He told me that he knew of a place where the steakhouse tradition was alive and well so there we were, last Sunday night, at Bazza's Steakhouse in Pukekohe.

Nestled in behind the main drag and on the edge of a carpark, Bazza's is unassuming from the outside but once inside I was pleasantly surprised - high-backed white leather chairs, dark wood tables, a separate bar area and an outside courtyard.

Even better was the flaming grill that greeted us - sizzling and smoking with thick cuts of meat being carefully tended to by the chef (who turned out to be the owner, Adrian), all decked out in his chef's whites and happy to talk about meat with a hunter.

The trendy term may be "paddock to plate", this was more like gunshot to gore! Luckily I have a strong stomach for all things carnivorous so hearing of hindquarters being butchered bush-side didn't put me off peering into the cabinet where the various cuts of meat (beef mostly) were proudly displayed before being selected and slapped on the grill. All were cut well (i.e trimmed and thick) and well-aged (ie dark red and with the look of dried blood).

The starters featured some old fashioned favourites we couldn't resist - surf and turf skewers and crumbed camembert with cranberry sauce. The skewers were delivered to us still smoking from the grill. Plump mussels wrapped in bacon and smothered in a spicy barbecue sauce that had no hint of "store-bought" about it. Divine.

The camembert was coated in sesame and poppy seeds (innovative) and as we bit into each melting piece we were transported some decades back to a very happy place indeed.

I selected the Prime OP Rib - a scotch fillet on the bone, encrusted with fresh garlic and black peppercorns. I enjoy meat bone-in as it's tastier and makes me feel like a cavewoman!

What arrived on a sizzling platter, accompanied by a dagger-like steak knife, was impressive - cooked to perfection with a char-grilled crust and a juicy, pink inner. It had to be at least 300 grams and with my baked potato covered in sour cream and chives, the hunter commented that I had my work cut out for me.

Ha! He hadn't seen me in action - he may have some glorious hunting stories but I have some magnificent tales of eating to tell and a reputation as an eating athlete to uphold. I polished it off dramatically, while privately wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew.

Being a lover of the land and sea, my hunting friend went for the scallop and sirloin stack. The thick sirloin topped with scallops and onion rings and drizzled in cheese sauce got the thumbs up from him. The creamy mash it was served with was not overly mashed to the gluey stage, and not too full of cream or oil either.

I ventured over to the self-serve "salad valley" (their words not mine!). It was one of the few areas of Bazza's that disappoints. It needs freshening up as it resembles the salad bars of the cheaper, chain restaurants and features too many mayonnaise-based salads.

If red meat is not your thing then Bazza's does offer a number of seafood and chicken options, all of which sounded enticing.

Kids dine for free on a Tuesday night and by the look of the groups on the night we dined this place caters well for families and larger groups.

I checked with our waitress before ordering the lemon meringue pie that it was made on the premises. There was no mistaking that this magnificent dessert, with meringue piled high on top of a tangy lemon custard, had been made from scratch. It was almost as good as my nana used to make. The hunter likes his whisky so the Dom Pedro suited him just fine.

Described as a double shot of whiskey blended with vanilla ice-cream and served in a glass laced with chocolate it arrived with a straw, every bit the cocktail of pure ice-cream and whisky - inspired!

Bazza's Steakhouse is doing a great job of maintaining the classic steakhouse tradition of offering generous portions of quality meat, cooked expertly with all the trimmings and none of the pretensions. Nice one Bazza.

Cuisine: Steakhouse

From the menu: Surf and turf skewers $14.90, crumbed camembert $13.90 prime OP rib $35.90, scallop and sirloin stack $34.90, Mama's lemon meringue pie $12.50, Dom Pedro $12.50

Drinks: Fully licensed