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[Photographs: Todd Eyre]

It started as a popup restaurant run by, yes, a group of friends who painted on Sundays. I liked it from the start – the murals on the walls, the hand-written menus, the hand-cut chips. It was one of a wave of post-recession bistros that popped up all over the city. It was mad cap, slightly slapdash – you felt like you’d wandered into someone’s slightly unhinged dinner party.

It’s still quirky, only these days there is really good service – by way of owner Esther Lamb and Nick Pound and most especially, from James Kirkwood’s superb wine knowledge: just tell him what you like and how much you want to spend. And the food has evolved since they hired a new head chef about a year ago – it was home style, now it’s rustically sophisticated. I have dreams about the duck confit with white beans and pickled cabbage ($34) and recently I ate the slow-roasted pork belly with celeriac chips and black pudding ($34).

And yet. It is still Sunday Painters. It is offbeat, warm. It isn’t corporatised or chasing a target market in a city that has a lot of that these days. There are no industrial light fittings. It works equally well for a first date or a boozy catchup with friends in from out of town. May it last a long time yet. SFG

HOURS Open seven nights for dinner and Friday for lunch

ADDRESS 185 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, ph 360-2001.

IMPORTANT DETAILS The private room upstairs is a minor triumph: a big airy room with a vintage record player and a stack of records for your own private party.


  1. Greer Lees wrote:

    Early dinner at Sunday Painters last night. I had wonderful waiheke oysters (beautifully prepared), lambs tongue entree (amazing on the plate) and chocolate delice for dessert (perfect end). All mouth wateringly delicious. It was early so the restaurant was quiet. Excellent service, genuine and professional. Mucho recommend-o.

    Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
  2. SFG wrote:

    Great to hear.

    Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

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