[Photographs: David Straight]
Breakfast, lunch, dinner – it doesn’t matter which you go to at Ortolana, because it’s all brilliant and so we find ourselves there at odd times in search of early breakfast or late lunch. It opens at 7am and closes at 11pm and so you will never be told that the kitchen is closed. It is that rare thing, a downtown dining room, and best of all it’s not expensive at all.
It is a beautiful space, all reclaimed brick and soaring plywood ceilings and linen cushions – serene, contemplative and light by day, dimly lit by night. You might be in Rome by way of Los Angeles, only much of the produce on the menu came from the owners’ – Jackie Grant and Scott Brown of the Hip Group, owners of a number of successful cafes – farm at Kumeu. They even filter and carbonate their own water.
Head chef Jo Pearson’s food is casual, loose and it uses beautiful ingredients very simply: it is everything cooking in Auckland should be. We like the beetroot lasagnotte ($19) – heritage beetroots with hazelnuts and big sheets of pastry – and we like the chitarra pasta, with zucchini, almond, parmesan and baby mint ($19). Breakfast? A folded egg ($16) with house-smoked mackerel and sorrel pesto: tangy, salty, eggy. Most of all, we really like the braised lamb ($25), which comes with green lentils and labneh – and it may be this one single dish that is the reason we return as often as we do. SFG
HOURS Monday to Sunday, 7am to 11pm
ADDRESS 31 Tyler Street, Britomart, ph 027 230 4561. britomart.org/ortolana
IMPORTANT DETAILS No bookings. Not so much an issue by day, but you might queue at night.