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137 Victoria Street West,
Auckland Central

(09) 373 4389

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byCandice Reed17/08/2009

Quiz nights, pool tables, live music every Friday and Saturday nights, big screens for big sports events, beer, wine, happy hour, pub food and an outdoor area – yep, the Empire Tavern boasts everything it needs to truly call itself a pub.

For many years the Empire has been a popular watering hole for local office folk (particularly for nearby TVNZ staff) and tourists alike. Although the stark greyish exterior might not be overly inviting, especially during the hours of daylight, the oaky brown and grey interior combined with the gas fired open fires create a warm, comfortable glow inside fitting with some of the most traditional corner pubs found anywhere across the world.

Generally speaking the Empire is busier on Friday nights than Saturday nights, and we arrive for a drink mid way through the Friday-afternoon- office-knock-off-drinks time to find most of the tables inside already taken, both pools tables through the polo club doorway in use and part of the outside Garden Bar also well patronised.

Fortunately there’s one cosy table free close to the fireplace so we nab it very quickly after ordering our beers. The Empire has a good range of tap beers (Speights, Lion Red, Steinlager, Guiness, Kilkenny, Amstel, Oranjeboom) and bottled as well as a fine selection of wines with a focus on quality, well known local labels. Like most pubs in the city, clientele changes as time ticks on at the Empire; receding hairlines, well recede, to be replaced by gelled spikes while feminine suits are replaced by skirts and boots. It’s no secret this place attracts singles.

Those days have passed for us, so I sit and observe while mulling over the menu tempted by greasy old fashion fish and chips or a club sandwich as my partner sways between lamb shanks and bangers and mash. It’s Friday night and neither of us can be bothered cooking. The kitchen at the tavern is open for lunch from midday every weekday and dinners from Mondays to Saturdays.

During our meals people start arriving for a private party claiming a section of the Garden bar. This area can be hired out to cater for up to 350 people, while there’s also the Brew bar which has a private roadside entrance that can be hired out with capacity for a smaller guest list of up to 60.

Plates gone and pint glasses empty, it’s getting late and we know it’s time to move on and let Gen-Y claim the bar when the band starts to set up.

Empire Tavern has been reviewed by 12 users

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