Editorial / Food & Drink

The Brit: What makes a great Gastro Pub

Having a successful pub in the middle of a bustling city is no easy task. A great pub needs to create a comfortable, ‘homely’ atmosphere and a relaxed familiarity as you walk through the door. Setting up shop in busy, metropolitan Auckland is an interesting challenge; yet one the team behind The Brit have taken on well.

Housed within one of Britomart’s iconic heritage buildings, the high stud and walls of arched windows mean that even when at capacity, there is a sense of space. With size on their side, the owners have built in seating areas for people seeking the cozy, the business, the date, the sport, the quiet, or the celebratory experience.

First and foremost, this is a great spot for a working lunch – whether it be outside on a Friday arvo soaking up the afternoon sun, or tucked up inside on a winter’s day at one of the long 6 seater benches. The abundant space means you still have a sense of privacy to get business done, while enjoying a relaxed, social atmosphere.  

Plasma screens are scattered across the exposed brick walls, serving those looking to catch up with mates over a beer and settle in for an afternoon of live sport.  Now, while I would expect this in a pub, I didn’t anticipate finding a cocktail list to rival those offered at a high end cocktail bar. This gives a whole new meaning to an afternoon of sports at the pub! More on the cocktails later

They’ve created a cozy lounge area along the Quay St windows with deep, comfortable couches, ideal for a weekend lunch with the kids, or an early afternoon catch up with the girls. Date nights are covered with intimate booth styled settings and a few higher tables, both positioned at the Tyler St end of the pub, which seems to be the more formal area.

A good pub should be a place where friendly banter exists between the team working and the punters. One of my favourite travel pastimes is to park up at the bar of a local pub and chat away with the bartender, involving myself in the small talk with their regulars and pretending to be a local. The staff at The Brit could easily be mistaken for guests and that’s how it should be.

The Food: Simple pub classics with a touch of gastronomy. A fail safe menu with a creative twist on the usual suspects such as their Snags and Yorkies, Triple Cheese and Ham Toastie, the ‘Brit Hot’ fried chicken, or the loaded hand cut chips with Chipotle pulled pork and cheese, plus a few surprises like the Blackend Spicy Fish Sandwich, or the Poke bowl.

Smashed Wagyu Burger: With all the fancy gourmet burgers floating around, I must admit I’m a sucker for a straight out of America burger, just like this. Homemade relish, bacon, pickles, two patties (although I could have done with just one), real American cheddar, brioche bun… done!

Beer Battered Fish: One with a bit of ‘twist’ that came in the form of a pea fritter! Surprisingly moreish. The fish of the day was fresh and light with a great flavour, although the batter was a little oily for my liking. The tartare sauce was in my top 5; punchy, chunky, thick – just delicious! Double up on the sauce if you order this, you will need it for the fish, chips and fritter!

Snags and Yorkies: The definition of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. I must admit I did pull a questionable face when this arrived but after watching Jared take the first bite, I was quick to follow. This is how you do a pub classic. Taking some local Westmere sausies, drizzling them with lots of thick flavoursome gravy, fluffy mash (just like mum used to make), and a crispy Yorkshire pudding to soak it all up. 

Absolutley one of the best we have had.

Foot Long Stone Baked Chicken Licken Pizza: Grilled Peri Peri chicken with jalapeno and lots of cheese that stretches all the way to the ends (a rarity at restaurants these days) on a hand made base. Paired with a pint, these are a great sharing option and reasonably priced considering the size.

Burrito Bowl: Portions of black beans, jalapenos, crispy tortilla, tomato, chipotle, aioli, dirty rice, and red onion. A real fresh option for those hoping for something beyond pub food. The chipotle sauce is delicious and gives the bowl a kick – but could have done with a dash more to step it up a notch. And of course,  the crunchy freshly made tortilla chips are the perfect little scoops.

Now I said I would come back to the cocktails …. I was surprised to see most of the cocktails priced at $18. I would have happily paid $20, considering the quality and flavour combinations. The two absolute standouts were the Lucky Kentucky and The Brit Granny.

The Brit Granny: Freshly juiced Granny Smith with Martell Cognac and a strong punch of ginger. Fresh, crispy, and priced at $14.  I suggest, leaving the Ponsonby cocktail bars behind one night, and go for a Brit Granny night cap…

Lucky Kentucky: Bourbon, raspberry, lime, mint, gingerbread. One of the best cocktails we’ve had in Auckland. The gingerbread is more of an after taste and is strangely complimentary to the other flavours.

LDN: Gin raspberry, lemon, basil. Not too sweet, quite strong, one to put on the hubby’s tab if you are dragged along for the arvo sport.

The Brit Spritz: Sparkling soda and gin with Martini Bianco and hints of cucumber and lemon.  Super refreshing and easy to drink. A superb Sunday afternoon tipple with the girls. 

Perfect for: Business lunches, casual group catch ups, live sport in a relaxed modern setting, a casual catch up with the ladies, or a sneaky little date night.

Price: Mains around $20 – $30 with bar snacks $15 – $20. Well priced given portion size and the atmosphere & comfort of the restaurant.

Ambience & theming: I like how they have integrated a nautical touch while keeping the modern gastro pub style

Location: 122 Quay Street, Auckland CBD. Right in the middle of Britomart

Opening Hours: 12-10pm Tuesday to Sunday