A quick Instagram stalk of Hello Friends + Allies will tick all the boxes – latte art, avocado, eggs bene, cake cabinet. The breakfast bruschetta ($19) is 100% on looks. It comes with an overwhelming load of feta cheese, and added saltiness with the smoked prosciutto leaving me incredibly thirsty. Unfortunately the beautiful fig and awkward puddle of honeycomb did little to help balance things out. The cafe has an enticing baked goods cabinet. The passionfruit cake ($6) is fluffy but the filling sandwiched in between is heavy and bland. I just wish there was more of that delicious tangy sauce. While the staff are friendly, the service can be slow. It’s spacious with an extra private room out back.
Hello Friends + Allies
93 Great South Road, Epsom, Auckland
The simplest things are forever the hardest to get right. Like the eggs bene and the mushrooms on toast. Or the humble burger and the fish and chips. Burger Burger and Fish Fish have hit the sweet spot on the latter two respectively. According to our Instagram grid, we are well rehearsed in the BB game and thanks to the panko-crumbed gurnard with tartare sauce last Thursday night we will soon be FF frequent grammers too. The seafood is fresh, the chips thick cut. It’s the fish and chips you actually
wanted need for the beach. Not the slimy, thick battered ordeal from the corner dairy. A slaw is good to throw in the mix, and so is something from the specials menu. The prawn and sweet potato fritter is incredibly tasty with its spicy vinegar sauce. Not as enjoyable if you are the type of person that believes whitebait fritters stare into your soul, the prawns here are also. There aren’t many seats but you can order online and takeaway – good for that horrendous Ponsonby parking.
For those on the shore, watch out for the BB and FF powerhouse opening soon!
Fish Fish (menu here)
Ponsonby Central, Auckland
Geeks have nailed it. The beautiful food, the indoor outdoor space, the easy parking, the casual vibe. It’s exactly how brunch is supposed to be. The place is jam-packed on a sunny Saturday but there’s no rush, no crazy Ponsonby queues of cars and people. I highly recommend the Eggs Benedict, it’s perfectly portioned and doesn’t weigh you down like a typical hollandaise drenched dish would, though the bacon is a little on the chewy side. The blueberry smoothie is delicious and the ice chocolate is something to keep going back for. As always, food on other people’s tables are that much more exciting and we are eyeing up the mushrooms on toast and the banana waffles for the next time we make the trip over to Sandringham.
Geeks on Sainsbury
1/55 Sainsbury Road, Auckland
This is the first sign of Summer. Yesterday, Food Space made its debut on Daldy Street. From 11am-late there were food trucks, music, and drink stands. Essentially, a baby Silo Park (see here, here, here). At 4pm most of the food trucks were either sold out or ‘sold out’ – read, holding it out for the dinner crowd. So it’s best to go when they first open or at dinner time. Tiger Burger is a must. Though maybe only if you are die-hard kimchi addicts like us. The Kimcheese burger ($11) is melted cheese between toasted brioche buns, with a juicy beef patty and shreds of kimchi. Nothing extravagant but just so damn good. On the Kimcheese fries ($8) there’s some amazing chilli sauce, spring onions and of course more kimchi – highly recommend. Another food truck to make a beeline for is Ryan’s Kitchen. Get the brioche s’more, the Eaton Mess, and the chicken salad i.e. everything on the menu. Food Space was definitely missing some kind of juice/smoothie truck but Goodnight Cocoa’s cocoa was perfect for getting through yesterday’s strong wind situation. While Goodnight also offered s’mores, which were exciting to watch being prepared, nothing could compete against Ryan’s brioche combo. That s’more is the answer to your late night Buzzfeed food video cravings.
www.foodspace.co.nz – watch out for when/where they set up camp next!
The Street Food Collective
www.thestreetfoodcollective.co.nz – for permanent food truck cravings
Okay let’s be honest here. When we think of Indian food, we think takeaways, butter chicken, and naan bread. It’s always plastic containers and never beautiful ceramics. We hardly find ourselves craving for Indian food, but Cassia has totally changed the game. The interior is almost the same as when it was a dumpling bar but the entrance is wider and more inviting. For restaurant month we were served five courses for $55. It was an amazing meal and kept us talking for days. The beef short rib with madras curry was heavenly. The beef fell apart easily, it was soft but still retained texture, and packed full of flavour. The fish was fresh, and perhaps a little dry but it was a light dish and the perfect predecessor to the beef. A definite favourite round the table was the raw scallops and prawn pakora with green chilli. We ended with a yoghurt panna cotta. It was refreshing with grapes, cubes of pineapple and a buttermilk sorbet. We were well and truly satisfied. The food is served in brilliant bowls, though at times not quite handy for fork and knife action.
Trust us, you have to go.
Cassia (book online, it’s super easy!)
No.5 Fort Lane, Auckland Central
Madam Woo is the talk of (Queens)town and now she’s here in Takapuna, Auckland. Last night was opening night. We waited an hour and half for a table – dedicated foodies unite. Albeit the numerous fusion restaurants popping up all over, this one does not claim to be fusion but rather authentic Malaysian street food presented in a modern way.
Asian food, bar Japanese, is a difficult one. You either get authentic food that is dirt cheap, served at bright white light restaurants with plastic flyaways and grudging service. Or you get overpriced dishes that are borderline authentic paired with amazing decor, excellent service and presented like art. Madam Woo is the latter.
Things you should get:
- Chicken Hawker rolls ($14). We could have easily done with one each. This was definitely our favourite of the night. The roti is perfectly flaky and the chicken tender and well seasoned. It was a party in your mouth.
- Lemongrass mousse with goji berries and lychee ($12). This is more like a lemongrass panna cotta rather than a mousse. It’s refreshing and the goji berries are sweet and plump. A great end to a meal.
- Ping Pong Cocktail ($16). We love lychee and passionfruit so this was Friday night heaven.
- Roti ($5). Roti. Roti.
- Chicken satay ($12).
Other things we tried:
- Pulled pork Hawker rolls ($14). These were insanely sweet and salty. The pork was drenched in sauce. No amount of roti could save this one.
- Fish curry ($32). The fish was fresh and well cooked but it tasted more like tomyum than curry and there was hardly any sauce to dip your roti and pour over your rice.
- Rice. This was a little shocking. What we got resembled leftover rice from last night, it was hard and dry.
- Mango sago ($12). Mango MIA.
- Pork belly ($19). The greens were delicious but the meat itself was nothing out-of-the-world.
- Tofu ($16).
- Portugese egg tarts ($7).
Things to try if you’re in for something different:
- Black sesame chilli handmade ice cream ($7). You forget that it said chilli on the menu until you’ve swallowed your mouthful of creamy ice cream and suddenly your throat firing up a little. You either love it or hate it. We had both parties at the dinner table.
For opening night, the service was great. Our waitress was friendly, gave us recommendations and checked in on us frequently. The food came out at a reasonable pace. Our only let down was when they’d skipped our name on the waiting list and hadn’t given us a call.
Can’t say that we’ve been converted, street food is still best on the streets.
486 Lake Road, Takapuna, Auckland.
Saying the Eastern Suburbs are lacking in good eateries is an understatement, we are almost in the endangered specie situation. Charlie & George is in the Stonefields neighbourhood. I hate to say but the surroundings are pretty gloomy, the houses all look the same, there is a LiquorKing, a Speight’s bar, a Yoga place, a SuperValue store [coming soon] and that’s about it. Thankfully Charlie & George is bright and colourful and reasonably busy which gives the area a bit more ‘life’. Now the banoffee smoothie ($7.50) is highly raved about and rightfully so. The berry smoothie ($7.50) not as exciting. We enjoyed the Soup of the Day (chicken and corn, $12) as well as the Eggs Benedict ($16.50) but the hollandaise needed an extra flavour kick. The pea risotto ($18) was fairly standard and maybe a little bland. It was delicious on the first few bites but the portion was so large we’d had enough halfway through. Service is quick and friendly. It’s great to be able to enjoy solid cafe food without having to drive 30-40 minutes and battling it out with parking. Will definitely be back for the banoffee smoothie, and the soup and also to try some more of the menu!
P.S. There’s this little shop around the corner that stocks IKEA products only, feel free to go play pretend in the kitchen and bedroom sections.
Charlie & George
4/40 Stonefields Avenue, Mt Wellington, Auckland
As we enter the cold, all we want to do is eat noodles and drink soup all day long. Ramen Takara has just opened along Ponsonby Road, just in time for Winter. The restaurant has a bar and a courtyard but it is small. There is next to none waiting space so bear that in mind when you are faced with a 40-minute wait time and howling wind and rain outside. The Tonkotsu ($13 + $3 for extra noodles) and Black Sesame Dan Dan Noodles ($15.50) were our favourites. The Tonkotsu wasn’t overpoweringly salty, it was perfectly creamy and the noodle texture just right. If we are comparing (of course we are), Takara has smaller portions than Ramen Do. The egg is also not as well done as Do’s molten goodness. Yet overall we prefer Takara because we just can’t get enough of those noodles and soup. Wouldn’t recommend the sides, stick to the ramen though if desperate, order the Karaage Chicken. Service though is still lacking as it is only a week or so old – the bartenders were definitely confused. Give it a few more weeks and we will definitely be back again!
272 Ponsonby Road, Auckland