Take your taste buds down mem­ory lane at the mu­seum’s new eatery

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - Greg Bruce

Espresso Bar 1929


It’s not a cafe in the tra­di­tional sense. They’re not cook­ing hot meals to or­der, for in­stance. The mu­seum’s web­site, which de­scribes its of­fer­ing as “small bites”, calls it a “new hospi­tal­ity ex­pe­ri­ence”. The ra­tio of seat­ing space to counter/ dis­play space is high. You’ve never seen such a tiny serv­ing win­dow, yet the ta­bles and chairs me­an­der widely in and out of the nearby columns, of­fer­ing plenty of re­lax­ing space. Auck­land could do with more places like this, which ab­sorb the spe­cial char­ac­ter of their sur­round­ings while in turn be­ing ab­sorbed by them. 1929 is quite close to what you might call “authen­tic”, the ab­so­lute an­tithe­sis of the other main hospi­tal­ity ex­pe­ri­ence avail­able at the mu­seum, Colum­bus Cof­fee. The shop win­dow is rem­i­nis­cent of the de­light­fully nos­tal­gic shop frontages from the greatly-missed Cen­ten­nial Street, that stal­wart of pri­mary school vis­its to the mu­seum, which for so long be­witched chil­dren and twisted their minds to his­tory. RIP Cen­ten­nial Street.


The food is small but not so small as to be nu­tri­tion­ally point­less. There’s enough sus­te­nance in ei­ther the salmon bagel or the cheese, tomato and let­tuce croissant, for in­stance, to power you through the vol­cano ex­hibit, the but­ter­flies or the creepy crawlies, al­though prob­a­bly not all three. The fresh food op­tions are not par­tic­u­larly wide but — as al­ready noted — that’s not 1929’s thing. Along with the bagel ($5) and croissant ($5) there was a ba­con and egg pas­try (also $5), el­e­gantly done, with halved boiled eggs buried in the pas­try and rash­ers of ba­con wrapped around its out­side. The cof­fee, All­press, was not mess­ing around ei­ther. Small and pow­er­ful, per­fectly pre­sented and an es­pe­cially ap­peal­ing shade of deep caramel, its vigour alone could get you through the nat­u­ral his­tory sec­tion even with­out food. But the real trea­sure of 1929 is in its se­lec­tion of beau­ti­fully baked and pre­sented scones, slices, cakes and as­sorted sweets stacked in the glass dis­plays. There’s great-look­ing louise cake and gen­er­ous serv­ings of ginger crunch. Our cheese scone ($5), even af­ter be­ing flat­tened in the toaster, re­tained an al­most flaky, but­tery light­ness. The ginger loaf ($5), as­saulted with sev­eral of the waxed pa­per­wrapped but­ter pats, was an­other ab­so­lute high­light.


Be­cause it only opens with the mu­seum at 10am, it’s a gen­uine brunch spot as op­posed to a break­fast. The ser­vice is quick, as you would ex­pect from a place that doesn’t re­ally have to cook any­thing, and friendly, as you’d ex­pect from a place lo­cated in an Auck­land tourism cen­tre­piece.

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