First Look: Little & Friday Douglas Street
Talk about biting off more than you can chew. The giant doughnuts at Little & Friday have acted as the pillowy breeze blocks of Kim Evans’ baking empire since she started selling them at the Takapuna markets in 2007. It should really be called Bloody Huge & Friday, and although that doesn’t do justice to the elegance with which enormity is executed, the rate at which the empire is expanding means “Little” is already an understatement.
A few weeks ago, Coffee Supreme announced the end of an era: Douglas St café Good One was to close. An outpouring of emotion ensued on social media, with cries of despair from decade-long regulars at the prospect of what might fill the bright yellow concrete shell. But Al Keating and co were smart: when the lease was up they secretly passed the Good One torch to Evans in the knowledge she’d continue to burn the Coffee Supreme flame.
The master of biting off more than she can chew (though we do sometimes wonder if she’s had enough doughnuts by now), Evans gave herself just one week to transform the place. A decision to buy a bucket of paint to touch up one wall quickly spiralled – 10 buckets later, the whole place is a bright, brilliant white.
Walls were knocked down to make room for a small kitchen, which for now serves dishes transported from the original L&F bakery and café in Belmont. They’re the sort of thing that can stand to be reheated, like a winter porridge with poached pear and honeycomb, which for an essentially sloppy dish appears beautifully architectural on a pile of handmade Houston Design Co. ceramic plates.
Pastries, tarts, cakes and doughnuts are also still produced at the original bakery, so what was formerly a back-of-house area at Good One has been repurposed as a large private dining room. As for the signature National Geographics, they’ve been swapped for leafy plants and a menagerie of plastic animal toys substituting table numbers.
At a time when processed sugar is heading the way of Natalia Kills, dedicating such a large space to indulgence in all its sugary, gluten-rich forms seems gleefully anarchic. While L&F’s central city outpost Durham Lane Tuckshop and the older Newmarket store both offer secretive jammy pipelines from Belmont , the new cafe provides much needed room to breathe. Communal tables are only fun if you can pretend every other seat is taken.
The Belmont bakery has been been operating for nearly 24-hours a day since the Tuckshop opened and will now be further stretched. Ongoing neighbourhood noise disputes have meant Evans has had to find new ways of accommodating the consistent stream of cake pilgrims without letting them fill the back garden, and that’s been tricky in the summer.
Opening on Douglas St is part of the solution. Belmont will remain the centre of production, but meetings and parents out with their babies can now make their way to Ponsonby for breakfast, lunch and even regular pop-up dinners.
Fans of the new cafe can relax: with four years on the lease, there’s plenty of time to chew things over.
Little & Friday
42 Douglas Street