Photographs: David Straight
There’s something nice about a place that opens as one thing, turns into something else and then finally becomes something else again: Conch started as a record store and then it started selling coffee. Now, it has a “kitchen and bar” out the back of the shop.
You feel like you’re in some kind of favela. In a good way. There’s a small seating area inside and a bricky courtyard outside and it sort of meanders its way to the back in the way that Ponsonby cafes used to. There are covered macrocarpa booths and knocked together bench seats covered with bright vinyl, and stained glass windows. There’s Hallertau on tap and a loosely South American menu that is gluten free and occasionally free of dairy. In other words: the perfect antidote to the glut of art-directed restaurants opening in Auckland right now.
It doesn’t all work. The coconut oil roasted potatoes are a bit bland, and we only managed two sips of an awful green smoothie the other day. But most of it does and that’s why you should go: we’ve hoovered a plate of arepas ($16) – Venezuelan, like a burger using flat corn bread, filled with refried beans or meat and slaw – and tacos ($18): pulled pork and an apple slaw and haloumi; seared organic beef with refried beans and a lime, yes, slaw. We liked the salad of red quinoa and tabbouleh ($16) and we ate twice-cooked organic beef ribs ($18) with gremolata. It fell off the bone in the right way, and we felt very happy indeed. SFG
HOURS Wednesday to Sunday, 9am to 10pm.
ADDRESS 115A Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, ph 360 1999. conch.co.nz/kitchenbar
IMPORTANT DETAILS They take bookings!