Browne St; Sparkle and fizz
Menu and vibe make a successful match
SET UP & SITE:
Perched in a side street in Avondale, Browne St looks slightly out of place — in the best way possible. The all-day eatery has recently been refurbished, resulting in a slick outfit. The floors are concrete, the seating mainly leather booths and moody, blown glass light shades hang from the high ceiling. The industrial vibe is clearly working, as on the Sunday morning I meet Sarah there, it appears half the suburb has the same idea. At peak weekend brunching hour — 10am on a Sunday — the place is uber-busy. There is bench seating along the big windows, which are open to make use of the somewhat temperamental spring sunshine. The corner booth we snag is perfect for catching up on gossip over a coffee.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL:
The coffee is Atomic, and it’s served as it should be — strong and hot. We are caffeinated and watered pretty quickly but have a little trouble choosing dishes. The menu is predominantly made up of classics, with a twist. The eggs benedict comes with the option to add fried chicken or salt fish fritters, while the bircher muesli is jazzed up with coconut yoghurt and blueberry sorbet. Eventually we settle on two savoury deals: ham hock on toast ($18) for me and seasonal local mushrooms ($19) for Sarah. Our food arrives in a reasonable time frame, especially considering how busy the place is. My eggs are perched on a generous serving of ham, with toasted ciabatta serving as a base. The eggs themselves are coated with a crunchy, salty crust of parmesan, and are still somehow magically runny inside. Amazing. The result is a hearty dish. The eggs and ham are a winning combo, though I would have liked an element of freshness to cut through the rich saltiness of the meal. While I marvel at the chasm in culinary skill between the creation before me and my owns attempts at poached eggs, Sarah applauds the lightness of her gnocchi. The mushroom dish is an inventive twist on the classic creamy mushrooms on toast. Fluffy pieces of gnocchi are paired with mushrooms and goat’s cheese, with micro greens and toasted hazelnuts adding colour and crunch. Having tried a bite, I can confirm it was a winning combo. My eggs were great but came with a side of food envy.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF:
The service was fine but a little confused. We had three servers attend us over the course of two coffees and meals — making it difficult to know who to catch eyes with when we wanted more water. Despite this, each was friendly and happy to answer questions as well as put up with our indecision. While the service isn’t yet as slick as the decor, it didn’t appear to be deterring any Westies from enjoying their coffee. With a friendly vibe and an appealing menu, it seems Browne St is set to become a new West Auckland institution.