Review: Sugarhorse Bar and Eatery
Typically, Moorhouse Ave is a hub for homeware stores and car dealerships, so spotting a bar is exciting.
Sugarhorse is in the same vein as Midway Moorhouse's Cafe 218. There, drinking and dining are accompanied by views of furniture and, for me, reminders of home renovations and housework. At Sugarhorse, from the outdoor seating area, you can spy the latest vacuum cleaner models.
It is a well-designed spot, giving the feeling of being outside while completely sheltered from the elements. Menus arrive with warm greetings and we set to ordering first drinks, needing more time to scan the food menu - a long list of kick starts (bread, dip and platters), grazing plates (tapas-size plates), main meets for those looking for more than just a drink and snack (there are also pizzas) and then the finish line (desserts). Everything is set to a just-enough horsey theme.
My companion, Katie, is visiting from the windy city, so a hoppy Black Dog Bite pilsner from the Wellington brewery seems the perfect fit. She stays in the Wellington region, too, for a large glass of Mission Estate Reserve Martinborough pinot noir - sweet, medium-bodied and a mesmerising red in a glistening glass - her favourite wine of the night.
We eye the menu and decide on a few grazing plates and the Sugarhorse platter for two ($30). It includes items from the shared plate list and extras; pork ribs, chicken nibbles, beetroot salad, cured meats, bread and dips. We order it with a few other grazing plates and get a well-meaning sidewise glance from the waitress. "How hungry are you?" For the first time in my dining experience, we are informed we've ordered enough food for three or four people and we might want to rethink things. It takes us by surprise, but I am thankful, having made a similar mistake (and not been corrected) at a bar a few weeks earlier. One side dish will suffice. The steamed dumplings it is.
When a table becomes free inside, the waitress thoughtfully offers it to us and we relocate into the woody bar. It is lively and bright, marred only by oddly placed screens and a corner TAB and eftpos machines.
The platter is more a scattering of plates. We've been warned well. The ribs are the highlight - the ultimate bar food, which we eat with our hands. They're tender and swamped in a tasty barbecue sauce. The serving of cured meats is generous and goes best with the sweet chutney and soft bread dipped in basil pesto. The beetroot salad is a little underwhelming and the chicken nibbles lack punch.
While we eat, we order an Akarua pinot noir and Mojo shiraz. The drinks list is surprisingly long and, for a smart-casual environment, it is impressive. It has Scott Base wines on tap and a cellar of the expensive stuff.
Neighbouring tables turn over relatively quickly, a sign not only of attentive service, but the transient nature of a bar stationed on a main thoroughfare, with no foot traffic.
As such, we are politely given last-order announcements just before 10pm (it is mid-week). After ordering, and enjoying, the Australian Kilikanoon shiraz, we leave via the courtyard. Not without, of course, a reminder there is housework to be done.
Where: 100 Moorhouse Ave
Service: Refreshingly friendly, observant and helpful.
Prices: Three grazing plates for $35. Wine from $8 a glass and beer from $6.50. Cocktails $16.