Browne St; Sparkle and fizz

Menu and vibe make a suc­cess­ful match

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - Alice Pea­cock

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.

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