First look: Fort Greene
Words and photos by Alice Harbourne.
The ceiling is being painted at St Kevin’s Arcade. It looks like a massive job, involving scaffolding, plastering and the preserving of the 1920’s design. With new owner Paul Reid, change is afoot, but in what capacity the rumours still haven’t decided. The place is looking brighter already though, and in the K’Road entrance crisp sunlight bounces on freshly washed shop windows.
It’s the second day of business for new sandwich shop Fort Greene, who’ve taken up residence in the former Honeytrap site. The interior appears fairly unchanged, with the same turquoise tiled counter, sea green chairs and wooden benches, though the smell of fresh paint hasn’t quite yet been replaced by freshly baked bread, suggesting it too has had a subtle makeover.
We’re sorry to see Leisha Jones’ Honeytrap cafe close, but her community-mindedness and ongoing support for the Auckland sandwich community (to which she runs a dedicated website) meant inviting Fort Greene’s Andrea Mulhausen and Liam Fox to take over the lease was a natural decision.
In the new cafe, a rotating selection of Fort Greene’s signature sandwiches will be available each week, from their posh home-smoked fish fingers with mushy peas to pork and black pudding with homemade piccalilli. Everything is made from scratch, from fresh ciabatta and wholemeal/white flour loaves to salt beef cured for seven days in-house.
My visit happily coincided with International Sandwich Day (there is one, hooray!) and so I tried Fox’s interpretation of the O.G Earl of Sandwich sandwich: salt beef, pickle and mustard in chewy, Vogels-but-better style bread. Messy, indulgent, salty and sour; it was everything I wanted from a sandwich. Washed down with a cup of People’s Coffee I was pretty happy.
Out of curiosity for Fort Greene’s first non-sandwich option, I also tried the banana pancakes. When Fox and Mulhausen decided to open a cafe they knew they needed to cater to dietary requirements and simply weren’t satisfied with their gluten-free bread. Instead, Fox’s simple banana and egg crepes with caramelised pineapple and shredded basil provide a bread-free breakfast option he can be proud of.
Vegan beans on toast are another K’Road appeaser (Fort Greene directly faces The Cruelty-Free Shop), a mixed-bean cassoulet on five-seed toast is a great protein fix of a dish. It’s not just a brand thing, though, Fox and Mulhausen are genuinely passionate about the environment, using fairly-traded and locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible, too.
A liquor license is currently being applied for, with the knowledge that beer goes down nicely with a substantial sandwich in the summer months. Other than that, future plans are still being slowly worked out, though the couple are optimistic about retaining the lease for a solid length of time, evolving with the rest of St Kevin’s Arcade.
Shop 22, St Kevin’s Arcade
Open: Mon-Fri 8am-5pm
Fort Greene Facebook page.