The Lumsden underwent a refurbishment last year, transforming its outdoor area into a do-it-yourself masterclass, with a range of hand-built benches, beer crate-crafted signage and keg stools. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the innards, which as well as being unashamedly crafty, comes across as a combination of oriental restaurant/fake plant nursery/pub. Even though they may have overdone it with the ‘feature everything’ approach, we’re not here to look at the decor, and I’m not a renovation show judge.
The publicans have thought of everything for their guests. If you get peckish, there’s free popcorn to snack on; if you get fidgety, there are board games scattered around and blackboard tables to entertain the kids (or yourselves); and if you’d like to throw all your money down the drain, there are pokies out the back.
With a tag line like, “Newmarket’s Home of Craft Beer”, there’s no question that the beer list is going to be immaculate. Operating as a ‘free house’, the bar isn’t tied to any particular brewery so they have full control of what they serve. There are upwards of 70 very distinctive beers on the list, in a combination of tap and bottled; it was also nice to see one hand-pulled beer available. Breweries range from local boutique businesses, including Christchurch’s Beer Baroness and Wellington’s Funk Estate, to larger scale outfits like: Heineken, Corona and American hipster beer makers, Pabst. Every taste preference has been accounted for. As well as the frosty stuff, the bar stocks an impressive collection of bourbon that can also be tested in private tastings sessions for groups of 8 to 24.
The food follows an American sports-bar-inspired theme, see: nachos, pizza, burgers, ribs, tacos and sliders. The totally insane chicken wings come with a stern ‘thermo-nuclear’ warning and a waiver to be signed before ordering; I passed on this occasion. The build-your-own-salad option works out to be a great idea if you are a good judge of your own food pairing knowledge. Starting at $12 you can pick and choose between nearly every vegetable and protein under the sun.
With salad and beer in hand, a spot outside looking across Lumsden Green is the ideal destination. There's plenty of room for beer lovers and weekend shoppers alike.