Sawmill Café, Leigh

For an out-of-town lunch in the sun, boutique-brewed beer and a lazy pizza to share, this place is perfect. Granted, you can’t always dictate the weather and yes, the pizzas are far from being similarly priced to Dominoes’ Sunday night Hawaiian specials BUT, should the sun be out and you happen to be within coo-ee (?) of Leigh/Matakana/… Auckland, it’s definitely worth the drive.

First, I have a confession to make…

…I was a little underwhelmed by the Leigh Sawmill Cafe initially. There, I said it. It’s not something I’m proud of and, probably due to the fact that us JAFA’s (even us temporary ones) are spoilt for choice for fancy shmancy cafes and “eateries”, I have to admit to thinking that the legendary Sawmill Café was another overhyped entity that may fall short of expectations. But, casting aside the captive pricing that comes with being one of the only awesome places in a small town and the relaxed approach (on a long weekend) from the staff, this place is great for a chilled out pizza and beer with good company (availability-of-company permitting).

Of exceptional interest to myself and other beer aficionados is the beer they brew onsite. Available on tap from the Leigh Sawmill Brewing Co., and also by the flagon, is a pilsner, a pale ale, a wheat beer and a dark ale. For those of us that like a bit more grunt and some serious flavor there is also the “12 Gauge” (6.5% Pilsner) and the “Doctor” which is described as a “strong & complex dark ale”. I can personally vouch for the awesomeness of the aptly named “12 gauge” pilsner.

They claim to have a great selection of gourmet pizzas and, while I enjoyed mine and liked the look of the others I saw, I can only speculate as to what sort of money they make from selling these. At over $27 a pop they’re good, but nothing to “write home about”. One pizza between two (with a side of fries or kumara chips) is definitely recommended.

Regardless of the captive pricing that comes with being a well-known and liked café in a relatively remote area, the surroundings came with an immediate sigh of relaxation and a sinking feeling in the shoulders that put any thoughts of work or stress to the far, far back of one’s mind. And, with a pint of cold 12 Gauge on a hot spring day, I dare you to worry about… anything.

Pizza and a beer at the Sawmill Café? Not-so-cheap, but definitely very cheerful.

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