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