First Look: Deco Eatery

Long before Lopdell House existed, the corner of Titirangi Road and Atkinson Road was home to the Titirangi Tearooms, a tiny refuelling stop on a hillside encircled by thick native bush. There’s a photo of that 1920s tearooms on the wall of Deco Eatery, testament to the site’s long history as a place dedicated as much to hospitality as the arts.

Lopdell House was originally Hotel Titirangi, which opened in 1930 to capitalise on the burgeoning daytripper trade... and closed fewer than six months later after failing to secure a liquor licence. After several more incarnations, the building became an art gallery and cultural centre in the mid 80s. And now, following a $19 million redevelopment that saw the art gallery, now known as Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, move to a purpose-built building next door, Lopdell House’s lobby space has been reborn as Deco Eatery.

And what a ravishing space it is: an elegant assemblage of blonde wood and Mediterranean-blue tile set against the building’s original Spanish Mission architecture. The large room is divided into a street side café area, a main dining area, and a light-suffused balcony with views out to Manukau Harbour beyond.

Deco Eatery is owned by Alex Isik, the man behind the Mosiak chain of cafes and co-owner of Point Chevalier’s Nomad restaurant, and many menu items reflect the tastes of his Turkish homeland. From the all-day menu, available from 7am, try menemen (the Turkish version of shakshouka, eggs cooked in a spicy tomato stew) or “breakfast in Turkey”, a platter of scrambled eggs, cheese and spinach borek, olives, and bread with cherry jam and manuka honeycomb. Like your breakfasts a little more Anglo-Saxon? They serve all the usual favourites – eggs benedict, pancakes, granola – as well.

Dinner adds more Middle Eastern classics to the menu – Moroccan lamb shank, Turkish meatballs, lahmacun (Istanbul-style flatbread pizza) – and dishes like the ones pictured above: calamari meatballs with watercress salad, black garlic and preserved lemon; and salmon fillet with horseradish mascarpone, lemon-walnut crumb, crispy kale and caviaroli (olive oil “caviar” created by molecular gastronomy chef Ferran Adria).

As befits an institution with such strong ties to the Titirangi community, the staff are almost all locals. While short on inexperience at this stage, they're friendly, enthusiastic and eager to learn. From tearooms to art gallery, and back again, Lopdell House remains a West Auckland treasure.

Photos by Ken Downie.

Deco Eatery
Lopdell House
418 Titirangi Rd
Titirangi
Deco Eatery on Facebook

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