39 Birkenhead Ave, Birkenhead
My mum and I just checked out this new ‘eatery’ (I’m sorry, guys, I still hate that word) just this morning. We’re semi-regulars at Birkenhead, but more for Asian food than ‘eateries’. In the car, my mum told me about an article she read about this new place, with the owner stating that he wanted to create a Takapuna or Ponsonby-like experience smack-dab in the middle of Birkenhead Ave.
You really can’t miss this place – it’s flashy and uber-modern and a bit jarring, to be completely honest. There are massive steps that ascend to a balcony and the second-floor, created so high up to take advantage of the panoramic sea views. (Even writing the phrase ‘panoramic sea views’ makes me feel like a real estate agent.) We climbed these stairs after taking a peek at the cabinet food, where you can get a tiny chocolate twist for about $5.00. I guess with the Ponsonby-like experience comes the Ponsonby-like prices.
We were greeted promptly and shown to a table by the grinning owner (I presumed she’s the owner, but I could be wrong, I guess), menus at the ready and water whisked to our table. The service was friendly and fast, although it’s a bit disconcerting to have so many of the waitresses and the aforementioned owner hovering around you constantly in a small space. I don’t necessarily blame them though – the second floor is so far removed from the first, that it would be impossible to give good service from a safe distance behind the counter.
We decided to share the veggie packed waffles with beetroot infused salmon and chive mascarpone ($20), and I, of course, ordered a latte ($4).
The coffee is Atomic, which was fine. I think I just have negative associations with Atomic, which is not their fault. (There are, like, two cafes on campus that serve Atomic and I’ve gotten one too many cups before dull lectures.) At least they’re always a double shot, which I appreciate.
I also think I had unrealistic expectations for the size of the waffles, since me and my mum were sharing. So used to getting decent-sized waffles at the likes of Little King, the portions here are a lot more modest. However, it was super-tasty and more than enough for a light breakfast – the waffles tasted like softer cheese scones, and the mascarpone was pretty nice. My only point of contention was the salmon, as calling it ‘beetroot infused’ implies it may taste different from the norm… which it didn’t, really. Plus, there wasn’t that much of it. Maybe my tastebuds are plebeian.
All in all, it’s a nice and… interesting addition to the Birkenhead food scene. I’m not completely sold on the by-the-sea, look-at-me exterior, but what do I know. It definitely doesn’t feel like Birkenhead, and whether that’s a good thing or not, I’m just not sure.