The chef behind Euro et al dishes up a generous menu of classic pub food. The scotch eggs are great, but don't miss the Yorkshire pudding, writes restaurant reviewer Kim Knight.
The Brit Pub & Eatery
122 Quay St
Ph: (09) 374 3952
WE SPENT: $228 for three
WE THOUGHT: 16 - Great
In 1889, this building was the brand new office of the Northern Steamship Company.
"Commodious and well fitted-up," reported the New Zealand Herald. Kauri gum, tourists, timber and farm produce - if it made money, its safe passage was co-ordinated from here. I tried to imagine the men from that era transported in time. Freekeh. Chipotle. Is that a woman wearing pants?
The grand old office was heaving after work on a modern Wednesday. Recently acquired by Nourish Group (Euro, Andiamo, etc) the revamp is light and bright and the Gareth Stewart-devised menu is enormous. We wanted it all. I definitely regret that we didn't order the peanut butter and chocolate skillet cookie or the green salad bowl.
They don't take bookings and they don't do table service. This can lead to slightly surreal exchanges over the beer taps. "What are today's vegetables?" I yelled, as Boy George blared through the speakers.
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Our beans and broccoli duly arrived but I highly recommend starting with something from the "snacks 'n shares" section. The scotch egg ($14) was stupendous. Runny yolk, a very meaty casing and three separate condiments blobbed on the plate like those silly tiny dipping dishes had never even been invented.
Corn dogs? Three for $17. I was overcome with nostalgia. "I haven't had these since high school," I said and ate my words when they turned out to be the kind of superior bar snack you move to a big city for - battered lamb sausage on a stick with spiced ketchup. We completed our fried entree degustation with chunks of crunchy chicken ($17) that could have been juicier but we loved the "secret" sauce (jalapeno?).
We'd wandered the considerable length and breadth of the place to find the only three seats available - a row of stools at a wide counter near the kitchen pass. I prepared for an aching back and over-stretched legs but, if you own a bar and you'd like more women customers, please proceed immediately to The Brit and ask them where they bought their furniture (supremely comfortable) and who installed the footrests (perfect height). We were at a large, noisy pub with *checks PR notes* more screens "than a sunblock factory".
None of this is really my cup of tea, however, it was all going swimmingly.
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It's unclear whether The Brit is named for its menu of English pub classics or its Britomart-adjacent location but Steph (who is an actual Brit) suggested we should get the fish and chips ($24).
"When I arrived in New Zealand, everyone said the fish and chips were amazing. They were not."
I wish I could show you a photograph of her cherubic face as she devoured crunchy-yet-fluffy chips, very fresh fish and little clouds of minty deep-fried pea fritter. Snags 'n yorkies had become a foregone conclusion. It occurred to me the British Yorkshire pud is a kind of poor man's French souffle. "Well, yes," said Steph. "But would we say poor man? Or would we say BETTER man?"
Either way, The Brit's flamboyant take on eggs, flour and milk was the best $28 I've spent in a gastropub. Puffy batter with crispy edges. Westmere sausages. I don't ever want to know how much butter went into the mashed spud. Add gravy. Prepare to share generously.
There were three of us, so we ordered three mains, including one that was alleged to contain three types of cheese. The skillet mac 'n' cheese ($25) was of spa pool proportions, with an extremely silky sauce. We ate and ate and ate and eventually called for a small cardboard box. We stuffed it with leftovers and seasoned them with salty tears of regret. At the kitchen pass, they were pouring caramel sauce over an icecream sundae we were too full to order.