Take your taste buds down memory lane at the museum’s new eatery
Espresso Bar 1929
SET UP & SITE:
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.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL:
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.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF:
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.