Review: Freeman and Grey

OLD AND NEW: Freeman and Grey occupies a 100 year old building.
OLD AND NEW: Freeman and Grey occupies a 100 year old building.

The name is the first thing to interest. The present owners or perhaps previous ones? The place has been around for more than 100 years, enough time to have a colourful past. However, the answer's not historic but geographic - its neighbours are Freeman's Bay and Grey Lynn.

The seating is plenty and varied downstairs and there is a light, airy feel - high ceilings and good flow. It's a Sunday lunchtime and hardly rush hour but we head upstairs. The wait staff must love having to schlep up and down the stairs on a busy night but today we are the only customers up here. The ceilings are high and of bare, rough-cut timber, the walls are exposed brick and there is another bar. Seating inside are booths and bentwood but I want to be out on the lofty verandah, despite the small, semicircular tables being more suited to drinks than plates.

Our delightful waitress quickly explains about the specials of the day then returns with water and a bucket of sauces, condiments and cutlery.

On a fine day this is indeed a fine place to be, with views across to the Waitakeres. The location is fabulous and the accommodation ideal; with food, drinks (and big screens because it is also a sports bar), just add people.

Their Facebook page trumpets the glories of "big yellow" up on the verandah and, as the summer really heats up and so does business, there's been a call for staff: "A good set of pearly whites is preferable, a healthy relationship with your mother compulsory, and perky buttocks appreciated." It is what it is.

Sir starts with a coffee, which he says is excellent. With the food arrives a long Becks for him and a house rose for me. Both delicious.

The brunch menu covers the usual bases and the lunch signature is that all dishes are $14. Sir has the beer-battered gurnard and fries with "a petit salad and house-made tartare sauce". I have the open chicken sandwich with avocado and beer-battered fries.

The ciabatta with mayo is fine, the piece of chicken is in a yellow coating and there is, briefly, a hint of spice warmth; the bacon is fine but the guacamole is not house-made. Sir says his batter is odd. "What, flabby?" "No. Damp."

Our consensus is that food-wise, lunchtime is not Freeman & Grey's best time but we plan to return, probably in a group, to watch the big yellow go down and sample some of the 17 small plates that make up part of the dinner menu.

Sunday Star Times