On the Northern border of Auckland you'll find the Leigh Sawmill Cafe. Past Matakana and en route to Goat Island, the cafe, accompanying brewery and accommodation sits on the site of a former Kauri Sawmill. In 1981, the old part of the mill was decommissioned before the Sawmill Cafe was brought to life in 1996.
The large site is a multi-functional area. There's the inner wooden sanctuary - home to the bar and kitchen and music venue; the outdoor garden cafe - the perfect spot to set up with some friends on the grass on a nice day, and the play area which features a boat, seesaw and a maypole. The kitchen churns out a delicious range of wood-fired pizzas, using both organic and local produce. Each pizza is named after members of the cafe's founders and large enough to be shared - unless you're appetite is ravenous.
The Ella Hart is an all-time favourite. It comes topped with tandoori chicken, a delicious fruit chutney and yoghurt in the centre. There's also the hefty Big Ben, complete with roast beef, pepperoni, and balsamic onion; the Picky Nicky, with smoked salmon, capers, aioli and rocket, and the Marlo Bea, with the intriguing combination of mushrooms, leek, sage, almonds, garlic, beetroot, and feta. The menu doesn't just stop there. You'll also find fresh local seafood, platters and a range of specials on the blackboard, all flying underneath the gastropub banner.
To wash it all down, a range of pure craft beers are brewed onsite, which use ultra filtered rain water and the finest ingredients from NZ, Australia and the UK. They specialise in citrus packed pale ale, pilsner and wheat beer, plus a strong lager and doppelbock in the upper reaches of alcohol percentage at 6.5%. Takeaways can also be purchased from the off license located right next to the restaurant.
Staying on past the sunset is highly recommended. As a regular pit-stop for a who's who of local bands and musicians, the locals are known to come out of their shells and cut a bit loose. If things get too crazy, you can stay for the night in one of their wood cabins.