CAC Bar and Eatery
Address: 26 Normanby Rd, Mt Eden
Ph: (09) 630 5790

I first visited CAC about eight years ago when I was invited to a family gathering of some friends of mine.

It was a great night and I really enjoyed myself, but I'd kind of forgotten about the place in the interim and hadn't considered it as a place to go for a drink until I caught up with the same friend a while back and we ended up there.

My memory was of a nice place - one of the first to do tapas in Auckland - with an intriguing wine list and a profusion of curtains that hid various nooks and crannies, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I came back.

What I got was a surprise.


It was pretty much as I remembered, physically, which was nice because it's one of the nicest buildings in Auckland.

In a city that considers cheap-and-cheerful sheet metal and dodgy timber buildings to be heritage, CAC retains a genuine flavour of colonial Auckland.

Originally an ammunition factory - hence the name Colonial Ammunition Company - it is a splendid example of early-European architecture.

Stone and wood predominate, but the curtains are still there, too.

As is the rather daunting staircase leading to the mezzanine floor. I'm sure there have been terrible accidents on that staircase. But it's just such a lovely space and it's made all the better by having decent staff who make you feel welcome.

The service I got was great, as was the food. In fact, the food is a bit better than great. Small sharing plates of perfectly put together dishes make an excellent grazing paddock for anyone having a few drinks.

And have I mentioned the drinks?

The wine list might have shrunk somewhat since I first visited but it is perfectly formed, with something for everyone and something to suit all budgets. The beer selection is a little perfunctory but, anyway, it's more a wine and cocktail place.

Affordable and welcoming, it ticks most of the boxes and it will reward a lazy afternoon spent exploring the menu over a few drinks.

And you'd go a long way indeed to find nicer surroundings.