The Bridgman, the newest gastropub on Dominion Rd. Photo/Babiche Martens
A 1912 Dominion Rd landmark has undergone a flavorful — and textured — makeover, reports restaurant critic Kim Knight.
In their own words: “Carefully selected food, drinks and cocktails with our fresh and modern approach
a traditional gastro pub.”
First impressions: If you like to swing from chandeliers, The Bridgman has a chandelier for you. Contemporary luxury meets old-world opulence in an impressive renovation that is comfortable and gives a very nice nod to the building’s heritage. I’ve visited at least two previous hospo incarnations at this address (The Dominion and GPK) and this one wins my vote for best aesthetic.
In the kitchen: Smart decision-making extends to the kitchen, which reportedly hired Des Harris (Clooney, The Hunting Lodge, Tantalus Estate, etc.) as a consulting chef. No corners have been cut and the texture lives up to the taste. A decadent puddle of lamb, for example, is sprinkled with toasted buckwheat and clean, fresh cilantro. Small pubs just wouldn’t have bothered.
On the floor: Excellent menu knowledge, water before we even asked, and quick delivery of that second round of drinks (a crucial test of service ability).
The neighborhood: In 1912, readers of The Weekly Graphic and New Zealand Mail were treated to photographs of JW Bridgman and Son’s “beautiful new and modern building” on the corner of Dominion Rd and Valley Rd, aka “one of the shops booming Auckland”. centers”. Did this bold claim go the distance? In my opinion, The Bridgman is the second best thing to happen on this stretch of road (Geoff’s Emporium is, obviously, the best).
The menu: Tangerine oil, ponzu, feijoa ketchup – even the beef fat fries come with a smoky habanero mayo. Think pub food in a fancy dress. You’re walking distance to Eden Park and looking at a menu that recognizes it’s possible to love rugby AND a plant-based burger.
Best Bite #1: Fat equals flavor and nothing confirms this theorem more than the proliferation of lamb chops on restaurant menus across Auckland. God knows why we’ve spent decades Frenching the bones when with a little love and lots of cooking they can be turned into sinful succulence. In short: Order the lamb chops.
Best Bite #2: In which a typical bog vegetarian option goes to a day spa and emerges from her true and best self – shiny, plump and dripping with cheese. The ricotta gnudi are supposed to be light and fluffy clouds, but I’m all for something more like a dumpling in cheese sauce that comes with button mushrooms and fresh shiitakes and pecorino derivatives.
The jury is still out: James got the sirloin steak (amazing) and fries (less amazing). By this point, The Bridgman had become a victim of its own success. When setting the bar this high, less than crispy chips are noticeable.
On the side: Enter the other chip. Halloumi fries are soft and squeaky and if you dip them in enough feijoa ketchup, the sour cut will definitely make you feel better about going to the pub and especially ordering cheese.
Dessert: Options included aged gouda with dried apricot jam and rye shortbread but (see above and also a little higher) I couldn’t. Regular readers may notice that this is my second recent tiramisu series. The Bridgman was more refined than Gina’s – the latter was oozing, the former was thoroughly soaked. Favorite? Like kids, grandparents, and bridesmaids, I loved them all equally.
Perfect for: Sunday sessions or afterworks during the week with these demanding friends who want a burrata with their beer and a chandelier above their champagne. Go to Bridgman before a big game and have a good time, but for a good time ask to see the menu.
How much: We spent $189 for two.
The Bridgman, 234 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden, Auckland. Telephone (09) 623 0498.
by Yvonne Lorkin
The first thing you’ll notice about the Bridgman’s drinks menu is that it matches the restaurant’s menu perfectly in length and breadth. Someone very smart made this list, choosing not to hand out pages and pages of liquid refreshments to choose from. They built a base of six sparklings, 10 whites, two rosés, a dozen reds, a dozen draft beers, 10 bottled beers, and a dozen cocktails to kick things off or top things off, whatever. I love the little illustration next to each cocktail of the shape of the glass it will come in. Your Clover Club comes in a coupe, your Cherry Sour in an old fashioned or rocks glass, while your vodka and gin concoctions arrive in a coupe. It’s great that all of their rosés, nearly all of their whites, and half of their reds are available by the glass, none of which are over $15. Definitely try a $10 glass of Georges Road Block 3 Waipara Riesling, a glass of Windrush Organic Marlborough Sauvignon ($12) or a $14 tumbler of Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Syrah. Avola’s Unico Zelo Halcyon Days Nero ($12) is also a personal favorite. Tiramisu tickle your craving? Who needs a dessert wine when there’s Behemoth Triple Chocolate Stout on the drink list. Bridgman, you hit the nail on the head.