Heaven scent

The aroma of hot cross buns is hard to re­sist. Here are five worth toast­ing un­der the grill.

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1. Ima, 53 Fort St, cen­tral city

In the run-up to Easter, Ima’s charis­matic owner Yael Shochat can be seen rolling dough in the restau­rant’s win­dow, apron cov­ered in flour, as she works to meet the in­sa­tiable de­mand for her cult hot cross buns. Honey-sweet buns fra­grant with freshly ground spices are topped with a mor­eish vanilla cus­tard cross.

2. Bread & But­ter Bak­ery, Pon­sonby, Mil­ford and Grey Lynn

There’s no chem­i­cal af­ter-taste in these or­ganic buns, thanks to the un-sul­phurised or­ganic fruit mix. But­ter­milk gives ex­tra depth of flavour, as does a burnt but­ter and spice syrup glaze.

4. Miann, Brit­o­mart and Fort St

Fol­low chef Brian and Roselle Camp­bell’s dessert bars on In­sta­gram and say good­bye, hips! Their cho­co­late hot cross bun recipe fea­tures freshly ground spices and Val­rhona cho­co­late.

3. La Voie Fran­caise, 875 Do­min­ion Rd, Bal­moral

With a fine cross and hand­made asym­me­try, La Voie’s buns have an un­der­stated fin­ish. They’re in­di­vid­u­ally rounded for an even bake, re­sult­ing in chewy edges when toasted. A gen­er­ous fruit to bun ra­tio.

5. Lit­tle & Fri­day, Pon­sonby, New­mar­ket and Belmont

In sig­na­ture L&F fash­ion, these square buns are al­most as big as a side plate, the op­ti­mum ex­cuse for ex­tra but­ter. The scent of orange will fill the house af­ter toast­ing.

Party like a tourist

The great­est thing about restau­rants that ser­vice a ho­tel or a high-traf­fic tourist area is that they are open al­most all the time: Mon­day, Sun­day, hol­i­days, early morn­ings, late nights. But quite of­ten these places fall short on qual­ity, so it’s a bonus when the restau­rants in ques­tion are ac­tu­ally good. We are there­fore lucky to have the restau­rants of Fed­eral Street, where you can pick and choose de­pend­ing on your crav­ings. There’s the fresh­est oys­ters, gutsy cook­ing and fault­less ser­vice at De­pot (1); next door there’s reimag­ined Jewish deli food and life-chang­ing cheese­cake at The Fed (2). There’s Masu (3), should you fancy pretty cock­tails, plat­ters of sashimi and ro­bata-grilled meats. And chef Sean Con­nolly puts an up­dated spin on retro steak­house clas­sics at

and serves re­fined Ital­ian

The Grill (4) Gusto (5).

food at Also try: Just down the road you’ll find The Grove (6) where on Mon­days they of­fer a ‘freestyle’ de­gus­ta­tion – a menu de­signed on the day that takes into ac­count the pref­er­ences and tastes of each diner. At $65 for five cour­ses, it’s a chance for the kitchen to flex its cre­ativ­ity at the be­gin­ning of the week and a pretty sweet deal for diners. If you are af­ter some­thing a lit­tle more re­laxed, go for a glass of red, some meat­balls and fresh pasta down at Baduzzi ( 7), be­fore tak­ing a stroll along Wyn­yard Quar­ter and through the si­los.

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De­pot The Fed Sashimi at Masu The Grill 5. Spaghetti car­bonara at Gusto A dish at The Grove Baduzzi

7.

Homely bistro din­ing

At the be­gin­ning of the work­ing week you want to go some­where where you are made to feel at home, as if you have been in­vited over for din­ner – the ease and fa­mil­iar­ity at Pon­sonby Road Bistro (1-2) makes you feel just that. Blair Rus­sell and Melissa Mor­row are the kind of hosts that an­tic­i­pate what you need be­fore you even know you need it, and head chef Sarah Con­way’s food – which is global in in­flu­ence – is gen­er­ous, beau­ti­ful and com­fort­ing. Al­though the menu changes ev­ery few weeks, you can al­ways count on a few things: there will al­ways be clams, and whether they are Span­ish or Sri Lankan-style on the day you visit, you won’t be able to re­sist mop­ping up the sauce with your bread; there will al­ways be clas­sics to fall back on like steak, chips and pizza; and you’ll al­ways leave feel­ing sat­is­fied.

Also try: Mount Eden’s Molten (3-4) is ev­ery­thing a neigh­bour­hood bistro should be. It’s re­laxed enough that you can roll in on your way home from work if you de­cide you don’t want to brave the Mon­day night supermarket crowds but it feels a lit­tle fancy too, should you want to have an im­promptu cel­e­bra­tion. The all-weather court­yard hid­den from the main street is a gem – warm and dry in the win­ter, balmy and leafy when it’s fine. The menu has some­thing for ev­ery mood and ap­petite, too, whether it’s snacks and a great glass of wine at the bar, a pizza and a pint out­side, or a shared feast for four in the main din­ing room.

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Con­fit duck at Pon­sonby Rd Bistro In­side Pon­sonby Rd Bistro 3. The Molten court­yard A Molten plat­ter

4. Bring a bot­tle Mon­days

BYO is of­ten re­stricted to the realm of group din­ners at no-frills restau­rants serv­ing cheap food. But at three of Hip Group’s eater­ies, Mon­day nights are BYO wine, and bet­ter yet, there’s no charge for cork­age. Dine among the flow­ers at Parnell’s Rosie (1-2), where you can get fish and meat cuts for two from the char­grill. Ev­ery Mon­day at these ‘Cork and Fork’ din­ners, the chefs cre­ate a spe­cial dish for the night that runs along­side the nor­mal menu and, as is the Hip Group way, it will be a fresh and el­e­gant dish, in­spired by the sea­son. Take in an ocean view at St He­liers Bay Cafe & Bistro (3) and stroll along the beach with a Milse gelato af­ter din­ner. Or sit out­side un­der the twin­kling lights at Brit­o­mart’s Or­tolana (4).

Also try: Fans of every­body’s favourite Karanga­hape Road eatery Coco’s Cantina (5) can re­joice that af­ter seven years of op­er­at­ing five days a week, Coco’s is now open Mon­day nights. If you work in hospi­tal­ity you

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Rosie in Parnell A dish at Rosie St He­liers Bay Cafe & Bistro 4. The in­te­rior of Or­tolana 5. Spaghetti and meat­balls at Coco’s Cantina can bring your own wine, and pay a glass to your waiter as cork­age. Hospo or not, every­body’s wel­come, and there’s no bet­ter way to start your week than with com­fort­ing Coco’s favourites (I’m lookin’ at you, par­fait, po­lenta chips, and spaghetti).

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