So add this to the list of things for Aussies and Kiwis to fight over – the flat white. Along with lamingtons and pavlova we both lay claim this antipodean beverage, something I always took for granted as the most boring of the espresso-based drinks. I never realised the flat white had such controversial origins, nor the fact that it would one day become the coffee of choice for hipsters from New York to London.
But the flat white is not the reason I decided to visit Allpress’s flagship store in trendy Ponsonby, Auckland; frankly, I couldn’t care less about flat whites, miniscule coffees are more my scene. I’d been a fan of Allpress ever since I came accross it’s Sydney Roasterie in Zetland. When I first bloogged about them, I cited them as the Kiwi export I’d most like to call my own. So I was excited to check out their teensy Ponsonby store and see what’s what.
We arrived on a rainy I’m-not-sure-what-day-it-was, as we spent the majority of our trip to NZ drinking and thus time ceased to have much meaning. Ponsonby road is a strip of cafés and restaurants with an up-to-the-minute but kind of upmarket feel – a little bit Balmain with a touch of Paddington. But smaller. And quieter. Allpress is a narrow shop with a few stools inside and outside and a couple of tables. From what I can tell, they only serve coffee and biscuits.
I’m glad I was travelling with our Texan host, who doesn’t drink the coffees Senhor R and I do (a macch and a piccollo, full cream, no sugar if you ever want to shout us). It gave me an entirely different take on the place than I would’ve had if I’d just gone with Senhor R. Ms Texan stepped up to the counter and ordered her standard fare – a large trim (skim) flat white with two equals, in a takeaway cup. Only to be told they don’t have large cups. Or equal. Or trim (skim) milk.
Now, I know there are places with only one size of cups, and places that don’t stock equal. Or maybe they don’t have syrups, or soy milk. But it seems really fricking WEIRD to me to run a cafe that prepares nothing but coffee and not to offer your customers skim milk. I also think it’s weird that the people working there didn’t think this was weird, if you know what I mean. This wasn’t announced anywhere, a la Bar Italia et. al. This wasn’t a voluntary simplicity/freedom from choice philosophy they just…don’t…have…skim. Or soy. Or equal. Or large cups.
My coffee was good, Senhor R’s was too milky. Ms Texan’s? Well, it was too creamy, small and sugary, if you really want to know. I’d go back for sure, but I doubt she will, which is a shame as she live in Auckland.
266 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland
+64 9 376 4726
Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5.00pm
Saturday 8.30am – 4.00pm
Sunday 9.00am – 3.00pm
You may not know this about me, but I’m a sucker for a striped awning. Anyone clever enough to attach one to the outside of their cake shop/patisserie/boulangerie/espresso bar (because that’s where you always seem to find them) has a good chance of piquing my interest. And if it’s a sunny Saturday morning and I’ve ‘forgotten’ to have breakfast before Senhor R and I go out for coffee, your chances increase exponentially.
Thus ‘La Banette’ has always been referred to by me as ‘the place in Glebe with the yellow striped awning’. I don’t spend much time in Glebe because I find the coffee to be as it is in Newtown – a few brilliant places dotted here and there, but you gotta know where to look. And while in Newtown I have a fairly good idea (Campos, Vargabar Espresso, The Old Fish Cafe, Berkelouw Books), in Glebe I have no clue. And I’m usually too damned lazy to find out.
So I never realised it was a patisserie, boulangerie and café, let alone the second in a series (the other is in Avalon). After visiting, a quick Google reveals that the owners, Vince Luong and Uyen Le, have garnered acclaim all over for their interpretations of French classics. And it’s no surprise.
The interior is small but artfully arranged with bench seats and tables down one side and pastries, cakes and breads wherever they will fit. The selection is impressive and, to my mind, not at all on the expensive side. On our first visit we pick up a rustic sourdough baguette for something like $3 and grab our standard coffees to have in. The baguette isn’t as sourdough-y as I like it, but it have terrific crunch factor. The coffee is good. Very good. Good, rich crema, latte art which I can take or leave in real life but can’t get enough of for blogging. On our next visit we order croissant and a danish and they are divine; so buttery, rich and flaky I could eat ten.
The procedure is to order and pay at the counter before you sit down and the staff will bring your order out to you, or you can get it to go. They purport to be a bakery, not a cafe and thus although all the coffee comes with real saucers, cups and spoons the food comes in bags, boxes and on doilies. They request that you dispose of them yourself (they have bins) and I take no issue with this but if I have one criticism it’s that this policy seems wasteful. However, in the face of some of the best pastries I’ve had in my life and golden delicious coffee, this seems a small thing.
So, what less-than-subtle sign is guaranteed to pique you interest in a place?
18 Glebe Point Road, Glebe 2037
(02) 8095 9688
7:00am – 6:00pm Monday – Friday
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