Ponsonby Road Bistro

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8 reviews
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165 Ponsonby Road,

(09) 360 1611

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Review byBrett Atkinson18/09/2007

4 out of 5 stars

Apparently no-one reads newspapers any more. Tell that to the Friday night crowd that has gathered at Ponsonby's newest and hippest opening just days after a glowing review in the Herald. The positive write-up focused on Ponsonby Road Bistro's personality as an eating establishment, but we're here to check out its character as a bar. A black-clad cross-section of fashion, media and adland types, and a few ageing property developers have apparently had the same idea.

Arriving just after six we snare the last of the outside tables in a smallish space fringed by elegant potted plants. Within a few minutes the house full sign is up, not literally, but in the shape of one of the waiters. Just past his subtle defence the compact bar area is showing no sign of emptying out. Beyond the bar, diners are settling into Ponsonby Road Bistro's menu of carefully prepared comfort food. Magnum is the latest opening from Blair Russell and Mark Wallbank of Rocco, and (until recently) Blake St. At Ponsonby Road Bistro the crisp and largely minimalist decor of those locations is replaced with a more lavish collage of darker earth tones and subdued lighting.

Back on our table, it takes a little longer than I'd like to secure the attention of the wait staff, but it is a crazily busy night in their first week after all. The list of beers is concise but surprising. The mighty Duvel from Belgium is available for just eight dollars, the same price as a tall glass of draught Becks. The drinks menu claims the thoroughly German Becks is also from Belgium. It's the only glaring screw up on the menu. A wine list covering the best of New Zealand, but also dipping into Argentina and Australia along the way, handily summarises the available options into categories like "Spicy and Exotic" and "Rich and Bold". It's a convenient short cut if you're also trying Ponsonby Road Bistro's array of small tasting plates.

We decide instead to combine a few dishes with a couple of Ponsonby Road Bistro's cocktails. The chef might not approve, but what the hell. The standout dish is a pork and pistachio terrine with sour dough bread, but the hapuka fish cakes are not far behind. Cocktail wise the Irreverent Twist combines Grey Goose vodka, basil, limoncello and lemon juice to produce a drink that's just hanging out for warm summer nights.

Ponsonby Road Bistro looks set for a successful entree into spring and summer. Just be warned that across the next few months you should expect a very busy time on Friday and Saturday nights. Stay away if you're easily offended by braying property developers proclaiming "I've just found my new bar for summer," as they park their Porsche Cayenne SUVs in the bus stop out front. But if you want to have first bragging rights at work, then now's the time to make it to Ponsonby Road Bistro.

And maybe I do stand behind my opening line about no-one reading newspapers anymore.

After all, you're reading this aren't you?

Ponsonby Road Bistro has been reviewed by 8 users

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