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Pot Luck — Friday May 3

The Metro Dining Newsletter

Pot Luck — Friday May 3

May 3, 2024 Metro Eats

The moments before I walk into a new wharekai as a manuhiri are filled with suspense. Partly, that’s in anticipation of the obvious consideration: what kinds of kai will be on the tables. But I’m equally, if not more, excited by how those tables might be set. 

There’s a very specific energy to the way dining tables are set in wharekai. No two settings are the same — rather, what you see on the tables is shaped by the marae, the people in the kitchen, the occasion, the food being served and probably a bunch of other variables, like someone’s general mood that day. It’s the material culture that intrigues me most about these settings. You might spot me in the wharekai lifting my plate up above my eyeline, in the hopes there will be some information on the underside that hints at where and when it was made, and, accordingly, how many meals might have been eaten off it or how many times it’s been washed by ringawera. When I watched the Whakaata Māori documentary Crown Lynn: A Māori Story, I was enchanted by the stories of marae that still use Crown Lynn sets made by whānau members who moved to the cities and worked at the factory as part of the post-war urban migration of Māori. On the other (less sentimental) hand, the commercial white crockery you spot at some marae speaks to functionality and the grand scale of hospitality. As for the rest of the table, I’ve seen flamboyantly folded coloured napkins, bespoke cutlery sets and cutesy posies of flowers, and my mum regularly reminisces about the raised platforms that sat at the centre of wharekai tables in her childhood, offering extra space to fit food dishes on and around and under (and I’ve got a running theory that these were a more accessible iteration of the towering hākari stages you read about in history books). Despite the variation, in my eyes wharekai tables are always and without fail a presentation of history, relationships, customs, manaakitanga and creativity — plus, a vision of aspirational neatness. 

Take, for example, the setting at a hākari I was at earlier this week. At a glance, it was relatively austere in terms of decorative flourish, yet there was so much going on. The chairs lining the table were set at identical jaunty angles, and when I got up to make a round of teas I noticed that all the teaspoons had been hand-engraved in commemoration of an event which took place almost 10 years ago — a kind of everyday invocation of the past. At each place setting, individual melamine bowls of pudding were balanced atop upturned dinner plates, which were to be filled from the shared bowls of food at the centre of the table. There were stacks of white bread accompanied by ramekins of butter, large silver bowls of boil up and piles of boiled potatoes. Dotted in between were little white bowls of tomato sauce — an accoutrement to boil up that I’ve never seen at my own marae or family’s kitchens and therefore have always presumed to be sacrilegious among my own whānau and hapū. “When in Rome,” I thought, as I spooned a few dollops onto the tangle of pork and dough boys and watercress on my plate. (Unsurprisingly, it was a good pairing.) Those little bowls of sauce, absent on my own marae, spoke of the varied preferences and conventions of these settings. This is the language of cups and saucers and bowls and cutlery.


Metro Wine Awards Events at The Hotel Britomart!


Illustration by James Stewart


In collaboration with Hotel Britomart, we are excited to invite you to two events to celebrate the Metro Wine Awards. On the afternoon of 22 May, drop into the hotel for a casual free-flowing tasting, where you can try a selection of the Top 50 wines,  served by winemakers, panel judges and the Metro team.

Then, in the evening, join us for a degustation dinner as you taste a flight of all six wine category winners. At both events, wine writer, winemaker and head judge Oliver Styles and Britomart’s head of wine David Nash will host an engaging discussion on wine styles, what to drink and when. We hope to see you there!

Get tickets!


Comings and goings


There’s a new pink-and-green coffee shop called Coffee Onda in the space that until recently housed Coffix on Khyber Pass in Newmarket. They do coffee, cookies and a range of Daily Bread baked things from 7.20am till 2.30pm, Monday–Friday.

Ponsonby Indonesian and French patisserie Manis has opened a branch in Henderson called Mill Bakery, just outside WestCity mall. I’ve seen numerous pictures in my social media feed of their fried chicken croissants (which, for obvious reasons, sound yum), but I’m especially enamoured of the flower-shaped croissants.

MaryLan Coffee Roasters is a new specialty coffee shop at 877 New North Rd in Mt Albert that’s serving coffee and coffee beans. They’re open seven days a week, with extraordinarily long hours compared to most cafes around town: 7am–7pm.

I’ve heard good things about a food truck called Mysore Dosa that’s parked up at 3 Puhinui Rd in Manukau. So as not to send you off to the wrong address, I suggest you follow them on Instagram in case they move locations. 

Last week on my morning bus commute to work I noticed what looks like a new eatery at 46 Ponsonby Rd. I can’t find any information about it online, but from what I could tell from the moving bus it’s called Kesia. On the same journey I noticed that Downlow Burgers, which also has outlets in Newmarket, Kohimarama and Henderson, has opened in Taco Medic’s old space on Ponsonby Rd. And a final Ponsonby observation from the bus ride was a new bagel shop called BB’s Bagels, which makes bagels in a range of flavours such as hojicha, matcha, Biscoff and pistachio. It’s a timely opening, too: according to The New Yorker, we may currently be in a period of bagel renaissance.

Also confirming that two Ponsonby Rd spots I mentioned in previous newsletters would soon be opening — Nami Record Bar (in Conch’s old space) and Beau Delicatessen — are now open.

Those who are into cheap pizza, Japanese vending machine culture and/or the microwave from Spy Kids will no doubt be excited to hear that Queens Court food court has acquired a pizza vending machine. 

Earlier this month, vegetarian fast food chain Lord of the Fries closed its Karangahape Rd store after nearly eight years at the site. They’ve also closed their Cuba St location in Wellington, but their Botany and Christchurch stores remain.




Flor’s warmed (!?) oysters with sunflower seeds (!?). Trust me!

Kiin ’s $6.50 boat noodles

Picpoul de Pinet 21/22

Gemmayze Street hummus (I bought mine from Farro)

Violet Crumble-flavoured milk (I bought mine from Richmart on Richmond Rd)

Spaghetti all’Assassina

Katsu Katsu

The Food of Southern Thailand cookbook by Austin Bush. It doesn’t seem to be in local bookshops yet but I am keeping my eyes peeled.




The predictably racist outcomes of supermarket facial recognition technology

Stale idli 

Drinking a beer immediately before a reform pilates class. Note to self.


Where we’re going 


Devonport bar Vondel is running a raffle with all proceeds to be donated to organisations supporting aid efforts for Palestine. Raffle tickets are $10 each and there are eight different bundles with prizes from local businesses, including a bunch of food-related treats from Burnt Butter, Spill the Tea Cakery, Dear Jervois, Levant Sweets, Gray’s, Coco’s Cantina , Ralph’s Eatery, Lebanese Grocer and Ka kā wā Confectionery (a very good line-up!). Winners will be drawn at 7pm this Sunday so get in quick.

To celebrate autumn, Hugo’s Bistro has introduced Steak Frites Fridays. It’s available from 5pm every Friday and includes a plate of steak frites, plus a glass of house red wine or Asahi for $45. 

Last week, It’s Java on Karangahape Rd started Kantin, a build-your-own-plate lunch service from 12 to 3pm on weekdays. Starting from $10 and based on the concept of Indonesian warteg (traditionally, small, family-owned outlets that serve affordable dishes), there are options ranging from beef rendang to padang chicken curry to tempe.

City Works Depot bar Norma Taps is hosting Norma’s Cypher tonight (Friday 3 May) from 9pm till 2am. There will be music, dance and drinks — tickets are $10. Then, on Saturday (4 May), they’re presenting a Cinco de Mayo block party alongside Tacoteca — there will be food, drinks, a live band and djs from 6pm to 1am. Entry is free!

Roses Dining Room’s new chef in residence is Alfie Ingham (Daphnes, ex-Hugo’s Bistro), who will be serving “classic bistro”-style fare for the next couple of weeks from the restaurant’s petite Karangahape Rd kitchen.

The Takapuna Filipino Festival is this Saturday (4 May) at Waiwharariki Anzac Square in Takapuna. Entry to the festival is free and will include an outdoor market with food and non-food stalls, plus music and cultural performances.

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Metro N°442 is Out Now.

In the Autumn 2024 issue of Metro we celebrate the best of Tāmaki Makaurau — 100 great things about life in Auckland, including our favourite florist, furniture store, cocktail, basketball court, tree, make-out spot, influencer, and psychic. The issue also includes the Metro Wine Awards, the battle over music technology company Serato, the end of The Pantograph Punch, the Billy Apple archives, a visit to Armenia, viral indie musician Lontalius, the state of fine dining, and the time we bombed West Auckland to kill a moth. Plus restaurants, movies, politics, astrology, and more.

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