Address: Cnr Queen and York Sts, Riverhead, northwest Auckland
Open: Sunday 9am to late, Monday to Saturday, 11am to late
Ph: (09) 412 8902
It's always nice to see a bar being rescued from an ignominious end and the turnabout in the Riverhead is nothing short of spectacular.
What was once a grungy, gang-influenced fleapit - where you were more likely to wipe your feet upon leaving than arriving - is now an absolute gem of a place. It is on the shores of the Waitemata Harbour, where there has been a hotel for more than 150 years.
Revamped and restored to reflect the site's heritage, the Riverhead is split into two main parts: the Portage sports bar and the Landing restaurant and bar, although its crowning glory is the deck area overlooking the water.
Surrounded by stripped timber and blown-up snippets about the area taken from old newspapers, it's an easy place to forget about the world for a while and simply enjoy the atmosphere and the fare.
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The beer is good and not too expensive, if slightly limited in range and the wine list is fine, with a nice lean towards the local labels.
The food is fantastic, with plenty of choice on the extensive menu and real flair in the cooking, with an emphasis on the hunter-gatherer, with ostrich, wild boar, duck and venison.
The hotel itself looks fabulous and the service backs up the appearance nicely. It's best to book on weekends as it is hugely popular. If you don't want to drive you get there by boat from the city centre and get a real taste of what it was like to have a drink on the water's edge in days gone by.