Checking out The Cav: We review the refurbished Ponsonby pub

Words and photography by Lauren Matilda Matthews from The Kitchen Collective If I’m going to attend a sports-mad-filled evening at the local pub, there better be something other than scantily clad model-esque rugger heads on the big screen to keep me entertained. And that entertainment I’m looking for is in the form of good food and a glass of vino that isn’t from a list of two options – white or red. Cue newly refurbished gastro pub, The Cav. What was once a dark, yet always lively space, which I would liken to a man cave, is now a bright and airy eatery and bar. I’m amazed that the fit out only took five weeks to complete. Each pocket of the building has it’s own colourful character. From the lounge at the front complete with roaring fire and a taxidermy zebra head, to the spacious deck dotted with communal, wooden tables overlooking the city. The menu is what you’d expect of a gastro pub, but with a modern twist - something owners Jeff Tuttle and Eugene Hamilton deem important to maintain the legacy of the 148-year-old pub yet appeal to Ponsonby’s restaurant-savvy demographic. There are four belly-warming soup choices, served in jars (hipsters rejoice) alongside a warm bread roll. The cauliflower soup we devoured was spiced with Moroccan flavours and coconut, and generously topped with a chilli and garlic potato hash, which added a welcome texture to the silky soup beneath. There was no doubt in my mind that a burger test had to be conducted, and the 1866 Burger scored top marks. The homemade bun was tender and toasted to perfection, within, a juicy 100% beef patty was adorned with crisp bacon, cheese, BBQ slaw, and a crunchy onion ring. And while admittedly it’s rather difficult to wrap your lips around, it’s most definitely worth the temporary food-all-over-your-face face that you’ll have to deal with during your meal. Other menu items include salads, if you’re that way inclined, or classic dishes such as mac and cheese dressed up with truffle, lashings of bacon and mushrooms and finished with toasted parmesan. There’s even noteworthy desserts and a kiddies menu for nights when you can’t find a baby sitter. I couldn’t be happier The Cav has received its makeover. So much so I’m looking forward to the next big game. And instead of reluctantly succumbing to an invite from one of the boys with a half grimace, half smile, you might find an invite in your inbox from yours truly to watch the final. Oh, how the Cav has changed me. [gallery ids="3817,3818,3819,3820"]