10 Apr // Weekend in Auckland

I've been away a lot this year, as trips to Wellington have been required, and weddings have been attended. Weddings in Hobart, and Nelson, and Omaha, and Hawke's Bay. I went hunting and foraging in North Canterbury (more about that later) and I finished a book project (more about that later, too). Most recently though I was in Melbourne (a pattern is emerging, I know, but trust me when I say there will be more about that shortly) and when I got home late last week it was with both an overweight suitcase and a sense of relief. To have a weekend mostly devoid of plans was a joy, and as a result I did what I did best: caught up with people, drank beer and ranted about gender equality, and ate.

First up was a bao feast at Chinoiserie with two of my favourites. Pre-engagement party we managed to get a carpark right outside (miracle) and wait not the twenty minutes we’d been told, but a mere 5 for a table (dream result). It’s the epitome of cheap eats: tasty, fast, cheap, and with good drinks and a bit of, dare I say it, buzz. Two bao buns each, plus crispy tofu saw the waitress give us a side-eye, and whilst maybe in hindsight it was a little ambitious, we demo'd it. The chicken bao is the best I reckon - crispy fried chicken, sesame mayo, (a little heavy on the) pickled ginger, and white cabbage. Wash it down with a Liberty Oh Brother Pale Ale and you’re in for a treat. 

Chinoiserie, 4 Owairaka Ave, Mt Albert


I met my sister at Coffee Pen on Saturday morning, to sit in the sun and drink flat whites, and it was glorious. Coffee Pen is my favourite place in Auckland for coffee at the moment. It’s an offshoot of Ark Roasting Company, and their specialty coffee includes Chemex (RIP the original Good One). Their coffee is so good, and for the record, so is their banana bread, and so are their haloumi and grilled veggie toasted sandwiches on rye bread. It’s tucked away down Basque Street in Eden Terrace, and I love it.  

Coffee Pen, 6 Basque Street, Eden Terrace


There was lunch at Depot with the family and we had a celebratory bubbles (I was pretty keen to shell out the $28 for a glass of Bollinger, but I thought better of it and we had a bottle of Quartz Reef instead, delicious) and turbot sliders and the kingfish ceviche and the ever-reliable skirt steak along with the potato skins, and then we had pudding. A rum and plum trifle, and roasted peaches, and it was all very good. One of my fellow judges on the Metro Magazine Restaurant of the Year awards recently commented that Depot was like McDonalds - in a good way - in that it’s always the same and it’s always reliable. It’s open in that dead spot between 3pm and 6pm too, which is a massive bonus since so many goddam eateries in this city feel the need to close their kitchens and coffee machines through the afternoon.

Depot, 86 Federal Street, Auckland City


Never one to pass up the opportunity for a good burger, there were burgers and beers and kumara fries at Burger Burger. They redid their menu before Christmas and it’s much better for it. I went through a phase of only even eating their chicken bunnuce (a lettuce wrap instead of a bun) as I found their buns a bit sweet (heyo) but I had the mini mac burger in all its bunned glory the other night, with the crucial addition of extra pickles, and it was so good. It was cooked medium-rare too, which is something more often said than done in my experience. I rolled home and watched New Girl in bed and I couldn’t have been happier.

Burger Burger, Ponsonby Central, 4 Brown St, Ponsonby / 3B York Street, Osborne Lane, Newmarket / 40 Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna


I caught up with some mates, and some mates’ babies, at Brothers Beer in Mt Eden. I know it’s a great place for people with kids, but yeesh, Saturday between 4-6pm it was like a playground/daycare/fun park. There were children of all ages, everywhere. 9 year olds screaming and toddlers waddling and babies in the sandpit - it was full on, but fun. Delicious beer, baby cuddles, good catch ups, dream.

Brothers Brewery and Juke Joint, 5 Akiraho St, Mt Eden


And what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than with cake. There’s so much to be said for an outing for afternoon tea. A passionfruit sponge at Little and Friday was light, and a little tart but sweet, and perfect. It reminded me of my Gran, a huge advocate of something sweet in the afternoon, and I was also reminded that I still to this day have never made a sponge cake and that really is something I must rectify.

Little and Friday, 11 McColl St, Newmarket / 42 Douglas St, Ponsonby / 43 Eversleigh Rd, Belmont