[Pictures: Todd Eyre]
Sunday Painters is a wee bit raucous and slightly slapdash, but it really works. The staff seem to know everyone; the place is full of middle-aged ladies hooting over bottles of red wine. Reportedly, the owners got together after talking about opening a restaurant for years at their Sunday painting group and opened in August this year.
The ceilings are high, there are great swooping curtains and whimsical wall murals. Tables are close together and lit by candles. The menu is handwritten and includes bemusing Franglaise. The food is robust and homely and it comes on mismatched vintage plates. Service can be harried: we were asked to move tables recently to make way for a well-known food reviewer whose table had been given away, although they did bribe us with free dessert. The wine list is excellent, with lots of well-priced French red.
It is rustic, good cooking and very well priced. Beetroot came with a tart goat’s cheese ($16); a simple entrée of sautéed scallops was a standout; cauliflower soup came “avec” a deep-fried oyster but was under-seasoned. Steak-frites ($28) was a little less rare than we’d hoped and rather gristly, but was still beautifully cooked. The famous “duck neck sausage” ($25) – already a cult dish – is a piece of skin stuffed with pork sausage, served on lentils and is strangely wonderful. Desserts ($10) are a small let-down, but we recommend the crème brulee. It’s not perfect, in other words, but it is fun and that’s sort of the point. SFG
HOURS Open for dinner seven nights, 5.30pm until late, and for lunch on Fridays from 12pm.
ADDRESS 185 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, ph 360-2001. www.sundaypainters.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS Currently the hot ticket in Ponsonby, so make sure you book. We like the look of the tables tucked into the front windows.