The old Lone Star in Belmont has changed hands and rebranded as Steamheads, a steampunk-themed tavern and restaurant that acts as a homely yet quirky place to relax. Owner Pete Bennett has previously run The Commons, Roxy and Northern Steamship. Here, he's kept the bones of the former space while transforming it into a character space with a truckload of stylised cogs, clocks, lamps, hats and knick-knacks.
The dim lighting and relaxed music create a pleasant vibe for diners, making Steamheads a suitable destination for casual family gatherings — the split-level building features a child-friendly restaurant downstairs and a bar upstairs. It's attractive for locals and visitors alike — a place where you could just sit on the newly developed deck and have an afternoon beer. If that is the plan, you're in luck. The bar features a rotating selection of craft beer across eight taps, with Sawmill pilsner and Hallertau pale ale as permanent options. It also boasts a huge drinks menu, offering wine, cocktails, and dessert wine to finish.
What exactly do steampunks eat? On the menu you'll find classic Kiwi fare, from chicken breast to lamb ribs, pork loin and steak. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection of entrees available — the grilled butterflied tiger prawns ($16) and spinach and pumpkin arancini ($12) were two particular highlights. For seafood fans, the steamed mussels are a hearty option for colder nights, paired with chilli and lemongrass broth and sold by either the half or whole kilo ($18/$24). The a la carte menu also has a selection of burgers and salads, as well as more substantial mains to satisfy your cravings. Try the mustard lamb loin ($38), savannah rib or flank steak to share or indulge by yourself ($60/$34). Add a side of hand-cut chunky chips with aioli ($8) if you're feeling extra hungry. We thought it's only fair to have a sweet finish to celebrate all of the food that we had. Each dessert is given a royal name — we picked The Duchess, which is a luxurious Belgian chocolate tart with whipped cream ($12), and The Aristocrat affogato ($14).
In addition to comforting food, there is no shortage of friendly banter, craft beer chats and homely vibes at Steamheads. It's the perfect place to host your next 19th century science fiction-themed gathering or casual after-work catchup.