Local. Hospitable. Inviting. Oh, and cosy with excellent food.
These are the thoughts that will come to mind after a visit to Five Stags in Whitford, the latest gastro-pub to enter the arena of ‘your local’ going classy. Formerly the community’s General Store, with a varied history as a post office, knitting shop, restaurant and brothel, it has re-emerged as a hunting-lodge-esque pub and eating establishment. And boy is it worth a visit if you’re passing through (perhaps a tactical stop-off for the lads after doing boyfriend duty visiting the Clevedon Markets?).
From the rustic fit out, complete with antler chandeliers, leather wing-back chairs, shotgun shell cushion buttons, and Alexander Turnbull Library images and plenty of warm wood panelling, it’s got the quality you'd come to expect from your favourite inner city pub with all the relaxed, easy-going atmosphere of a little place in the country. Staff welcome you through the door – and there’s no doubt if you were a regular you’d be made to feel like one.
The food is like it should be in every situation: meaty, flavoursome and filling. Think hunks of quality game and other beasts – eye fillet steaks, roast pork, beef short ribs (with an L&P and Wild Turkey glaze), slow cooked pickled beef, seared duck breast (our pick) and plenty of other options. Plus given the proximity to Kawa Kawa Bay there’s a seafood chowder that’ll knock your socks off, and occasional mussels if they’re around. Our reviewers wolfed down a Duck Shootin (duck breast, kumara rosti and red current and orange glaze), Shotgun beef burger (burger ingredients) and the chowder – the silence whilst scoffing down and post-meal naps should be telling of the deliciousness.
And while a pub’s chef isn’t normally known, funnily enough, Auckland Friday lunchtime-goer’s tastebuds will be familiar with head chef Jonny Murray, who built a solid reputation at none other than Mt Eden’s Horse & Trap.
Like every good gastro-pub, it’s the simples and classics done right. Five Stags French Fries for instance are 10 out of 10. The burgers are big, packed full of goodies and satisfaction guaranteed. The beer list is extensive and includes a range from Little Creatures and Lion Red – to suit a classy drink with a lady friend, or a session with the boys (the wraparound sun-trap veranda shouts ‘summer session’). Meanwhile, the wine list (a good mixture including some top-notch local reds, plus a more upmarket list from the cellar) would keep a Remuera housewife happy.