Jun 26, 2019 Cafes
The new kid on the block, Newbie, brings some colour to the ‘burb, aiming to impress with an Auckland first – the Mod Bar.
Newmarket will soon be home to the new 277 development on Broadway, where 10 restaurants will pop up on its rooftop alone (Rooftop on Broadway, they’re calling it). In the meantime, the city-fringe suburb has seen an influx of bubble tea places with a new offering of potion-like and cheesy-tea concoctions. And now there’s Newbie, a modern eatery taking up the bottom floor of Mercury’s new office building, livening up the straight-laced business district with splashes of colour. The Newbie in Newmarket.
Newbie is owned by Roger Liu, the man behind Torbay cafe Scout and East Tamaki eatery Woolfy’s. There are touches of both here, but Newbie is more transparent and more modern, designed by Material Creative. The counter stretches from one end to the other, the space behind disappearing into the kitchen where customers can see straight in. From ceiling to counter to floor, the entire inside area is freckled with the same pastel speckles, uniting a look which is broken up by an elaborate dried flower arrangement at its centre. Heroed on the left wall is a vibrant mural of cabbage trees, a nod to the area’s past. Local iwi called this area Te Ti Tutahi, or ‘the cabbage tree standing alone’, referring to a tree which stood on the corner of Mortimer Pass and Broadway until 1908. It’s a turn of clever branding; their takeaway cups and containers boast the same bold design.
The team were careful to inject character into the otherwise characterless building. Newbie’s small interior spills out into the foyer, with plenty of chairs and tables to accommodate the office and weekend crowd. The high ceilings and glass makes it feel grand, and filled with people, the atmosphere will be electric.
A first for Auckland, Newbie’s centrepiece is installed along an open coffee bar, tap-like implements that look as if it’s that beer might flow through. They’re not taps, but a Mod Bar, a regular coffee machine deconstructed so you can watch unhindered as the barista pours your cup of Atomic Coffee. Head Barista Leo was this year’s runner-up at New Zealand’s Latte Art awards and, apparently, Pokémon is his speciality.
As for food, my eye is drawn immediately to the Breakfast Ramen Bowl, made vegetarian with a mushroom broth. “We’re interested in introducing new ways for customers to warm up this winter,” Kimberley Lee, Newbie’s project co-ordinator says, “and broadening what is usually considered as ‘breakfast’ food.” Keep an eye out for revolving specials.
Elsewhere, the menu is peppered with nostalgic comfort food: crumby apples with strawberry and rhubarb is a twist on apple pie, and the smoked kahawai omelette is modernised with salsa verde, crispy kale and kumara sourdough. In other strays from convention, their egg benedict can be served with miso eggplant and sumac hollandaise or bacon (we recommend the miso eggplant), and a lamb pappardelle plays with sweet medjool date puree and a subtle black pepper sauce.
When I visited last week, owner Roger Liu was trying to convince his team to name a dish of fried potatoes topped with a fried egg and red capsicum salsa after him. It turned out he won; it’s on the menu as ‘Roger’s Hangover Hash’. I think the validity of that claim will have to be tested.
The ethos of Newbie considers the environment; you get 50c off if you use your KeepCup or bring your own container for food. The cabinet will be kept stocked with pies, sandwiches and sweet treats, a quick takeaway option for all the office workers in the area.
Newbie’s grand opening is tomorrow, 27 June.
33 Broadway, Newmarket
Photography: Alex Blackwood