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
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
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
Back a few years, bagel cravings meant a trip to Maccas for their breakfast menu. It was strangely satisfying, the eggs and bacon combo. Though now at long last we have a few of our own bagel hideouts. So long to the oily, sloppy, paper wrapped before 10:30am munchies. Goodness Gracious serves New York style bagels with a wide variety of toppings. Faced with so many choices I ordered The Sampler, so I could try more. The Sampler ($17) is three mini sized bagels of your choice. Between the CAB (chicken and avocado), the Classic (smoked salmon and cream cheese), and the B.L.A.T. the latter was definitely my favourite. The relish and crispy bacon won me over. The CAB chicken was too dry. My friends had the Bene Bagel ($14.50) and Vege Bagel ($11). The Bene is ideal if you are famished. It comes with two eggs and heavy hollandaise which thickens quickly. The Vege Bagel was delicious, satisfying even for meat-lovers. The bagelry is right at the mouth of Kingsland and is busy constantly. There aren’t a lot of seats, so you may want to consider takeaway. Service is a little slow, we’d almost finished our bagels before our drinks came. Check out their Instagram for some more drool-worthy pics.
2A New North Road, Eden Terrace, Auckland
So we said we’d share more South Island extravaganza, three months on and we’d only posted two lots of photographs. So here is more.
You will find that 90% of these photos have mountains in the background. Wherever you go, they follow. It is so easy to forget about the city lights after spending a week lake and mountain hopping.The sunsets are the most breath-taking thing ever. We probably took a couple hundred ‘on-the-road’ snaps, it was a scenic drive 24-7. We can’t wait to go back!
The water is just as clear as Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. There are of course more towering mountains and also this famous #thatwanakatree. To my surprise, the houses here are modern and very flash, like those you see in design magazines. We spent a day here and did a 3 hour walk up Rocky Mountain. There are two ways which you can get up the top, we recommend going west for up and east when coming down. You have to use your hands and climb a few sections, but walking different routes mean you get to experience it all. Bring a picnic to have at the top too!
The Lake Tekapo/Mount Cook area has the clearest skies in the whole world. The best place for stargazing, if of course you don’t bump into a full moon like we did. It’s also home to the most photographed church, The Church of the Good Shepherd. Pro tip: book early and get a place to stay in Tekapo. We lucked out on all the accommodation and had to stay at Fairlie, which is a 30 minute drive away and not very convenient. On the 2 days that we stayed there, it was all rain and thunderstorms in Fairlie while Tekapo had sunny blue skies and beautiful sunsets.
Mt Cook/Lake Pukaki
Lake Pukaki was my favourite lake. The water is a striking baby blue caused by sediment deposit from glacial erosion. It is the most beautiful thing ever. You have to see to believe. Mt Cook sits with a family of other mountains which tower over you. We stopped at the info centre first. This info centre has more than just pamphlets and toilets, there are artefacts, old cameras, maps, and stories of the first climbers. We did the short walk to Kea Lookout, just 30 minutes. It’s the best walk when you’re tight on time. At the lookout point you can see Mt Cook, Mount Sefton, The Footstool, Hooker valley, and Mueller Glacier lake. Unlike Lake Pukaki, the water here is grey.