Sometimes new cafes pop up out of nowhere and stick out like a sore thumb. But when a new place is done right, it feels like it's always been there, effortlessly blending in and attracting loyal clientele from the word go.
And so it is with Ponsonby Central - the new "marketplace" on the block between Richmond Rd and Brown St, opening in stages since mid-November. I've visited on numerous occasions already, and each time it has been a hive of activity.
On the Sunday before Christmas, Boyfriend and I need respite from the humidity and our frantic last-minute panic-buying. We find Foxtrot Parlour at the back of Central, next to the colourful new fresh produce market, its tables mostly full with lingering diners. The wooden floors, big windows and counter packed with sweet treats instantly appeal, as does the brunch menu, short but intriguing. Toasted coconut bread, haloumi, vanilla risotto and kedgeree are welcome additions to the usual eggs/muesli options. The huge pies, quiches and salads in the cabinet also look great. But it's the banh mi that catches Boyfriend's eye. A take on the classic Vietnamese dish, Foxtrot's version has pulled pork on french baguette with cao lau sauce and a fresh herb salad. Not feeling quite so adventurous, I go for the coddled eggs with soldiers, spinach and bacon.
Both meals are delivered on thick wooden boards rather than plates - my baked eggs arriving in a vintage-looking glass bowl on a paper doily. The eggs are delicious (baked in cream - not for those on a New Year health kick) but I'm slightly disappointed the "soldiers" are actually just one piece of thinly sliced toasted ciabatta. The spinach and bacon are cooked well and a good balance to the creamy eggs.
Boyfriend loves the clean flavours of his banh mi - the strong cao lau sauce countered by the crisp greens in the salad.
The service is friendly, efficient and professional - so much so we're surprised when we learn how new the cafe is (it only opened in late-December). Foxtrot Parlour is owned by Tara Brogan, who is also at the helm of popular Grey Lynn staple Savour and Devour and food design specialist Quintessential Kitchen. No wonder Foxtrot customers are in good hands.
WHERE: 7 Richmond Rd (inside Ponsonby Central), Ponsonby, Auckland, ph 09 360 0014, facebook.com/foxtrotparlour, quintessentialfood.co.nz
WHEN: Monday to Friday, 7am-5pm; Saturday to Sunday, 8am-5pm.
WHAT'S TO EAT: Small but creative brunch menu; beautiful cabinet food and sweet treats.
HOW MUCH: $37 for brunch and coffee for two.
WHAT DO WE THINK: A new spot to savour.
- Sunday Star Times