Well fed & watered on the Wellington harbourfront
Mac's Brewery Bar & Restaurant (Wellington, New Zealand)
Member Name: larsbaby
Mac's Brewery Bar & Restaurant (Wellington, New Zealand)
Date: 27/01/10, updated on 28/01/10 (106 review reads)
Advantages: Good food, good microbrewery, good location
Disadvantages: Might have to book to get a seat in the restaurant
Following on from our Auckland adventures, the next city on our itinerary was further down the North Island, the capital of New Zealand, Wellington. We were looking for somewhere to spend the evening relaxing with a bit of food and a few drinks and from the outside this place looked promising.
MACS BREWERY BAR
Located near to the harbour side, Macs is a quite notable presence, a large building by the water facing the national museum Te Papa further across. This gives you good view of the water from the bar from both inside and the seats outside. The building has some space round it, and is very spacious inside with high ceilings and a mix of wooden and tiled floor. I can imagine this is the kind of place that would be packed at weekends. As you enter, to the left is a seating area for diners, although you can, as we did, sit in the main bar area and order from the bar menu, which is slightly less comprehensive but nevertheless decent. A maitre d waited to the left of the entrance to welcome diners. In front of the entrance is the long bar area, with many of their own beers on tap. To the wall on the right is a large mural depicting the brewery process with a written explanation. This is partly covered by a projection screen, which was showing the old black and white movies The Big Sleep and King Kong while we were there. Along this wall were also some leather seated booths which seemed quite popular with couples of groups of 4 or 5. Being nosey, we took a high table with high chairs in the middle of the bar, of which there was several. We took a small one but there were also longer tables, ideal for some of the large groups of after work drinkers we spotted, still in their suits, and what looked to be a wedding party. A sofa with a low coffee table was also in the corner, which looked like a great spot to lounge, next to a real working fireplace, which was stoked up later in the evening (it rained a lot that day).
The stairs, which we to the left at the end of the bar, led to a good view of the brewery, which was behind the bar and also visible from downstairs. There were also some private rooms for hire there, which were being used when we were there. I am informed by Ms Larsbaby there were hair straighteners in the ladies, for hire at the rate of $2 for 2 minutes. The gents loo were certainly in good clean order, but no such appendages.
When we first got there, at about 6pm on a weekday, it was quite gloomy inside, but the lights were switched on a bit later. Decent grungy rock music such as Muse, Kaiser Chiefs, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and The Primitives (an old classic there) played in the background, which made us feel really relaxed and at home. You could even buy t shirts from the bar.
A TASTE OF THE MICROBREWERY
As this was a microbrewery we thought we'd take the opportunity to try out the various wares of offer brewed within sight. There is also a 6 beer taster that you can get, with smaller serving but we went for full pints.
Mac's Black - described as "chocolaty dark beer is rich in toasted malts and Hallertau hops", this was really nice and easy to drink. I like a good dark ale and this had plenty of body and flavour
Sassy Red - "A very hoppy bitter with loads of Saaz B and five different malts. All the flavour you can handle". Well I thought this was a decent beer similar to the kind of bitter you'd see in this country.
Great White - "a complex Belgian witbier with banana, bubblegum and Turkish delight flavours, among others". Not sure of all of that but I found it fresh, light and pleasant.
Mac's Gold - "the perennial favourite and the beer that made Mac's famous. A crisp, lightly hopped 4% golden lager". Certainly lagerish, and as tasty as the others beers, although I'm not a lager drinker myself in general.
ON TO THE FOOD
Well regular readers would expect me to cover the food too, and since we ate here, I can happily oblige.
On offer were dishes in various categories. Brunch included salads, breakfast dishes such as The Brewery Breakfast which was bacon, eggs, mushrooms, sausages, hash browns, tomatoes and toasted organic bread, fish and chips, burgers, fish cakes and mussels. The lunch menu included some of the same items such as mussels and burgers, along with meals such as thai green chicken curry, crumbed beef schnitzel and roasted pork belly. The dinner menu, presumably in the main dining area, was again some of the same items such as roasted pork belly, green curry and mussels, along with meals such as Asian dumplings and crispy squid for starters, and lamb rump, chargrilled sirloin steak and fish of the day for mains. Bar food included spicy chicken wings, antipasta platter, mussels, pizzas and fish and chips. We ordered some light dishes; not quite a full meal but much more substantial than bar snacks, though they were on the bar food menu.
Prawn tempura was a decent serving of large, succulent and juicy prawns; I thought they were of a excellent quality, the flavour nicely enclosed in the crispy tempura batter. This was served on a big plate in a bowl, along with a wedge of lemon and small bowls of tartar sauce and sweet chilli dip.
We also ordered some spicy Cajun wedges. These were served in a deep bowl which itself was on a small plate. These were large chunks of skin on potatoes, spicier than the type you'd get in the UK. In the bowl was a small serving of sour cream which helped temper the heat nicely. This was a huge serving and the two dishes certainly filled us up, not too much to stop our beer tasting but enough to satisfy.
At $22 (about £11) for the two food dishes, this place offered excellent value for money food as well as a great selection of their own beers. The convivial atmosphere, mixed clientele and friendly staff makes this a great choice for beer and food around the Wellington harbour. We also tried the one in Christchurch which offered a comparable experience, and can highly recommend both places for a nice relaxed night out.
Mac's Brewery Bar and Restaurant,
4 Taranaki Street
PO Box 3274,
Tel : (04) 381 2282
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary: A good way to introduce yourself to Wellington nightlife