Auckland: Orphan’s Kitchen

Ticking this off my 2014 Dining Wishlist, my friend and I finally made our way to Ponsonby for dinner at Orphan’s Kitchen. Claiming to be ‘the home of unadulterated food and naughty wine’, we walked in to a full dining room on a stormy Saturday night while a group of diners were opening a magnum 1.5 litre AIX Rose inside. It was the beginning of a rowdy night!

With the menu designed to have small and large plates that are meant for sharing, we opted to have two small, a large and a side between the two of us, in attempts to leave room for dessert.

The heirloom tomatoes with lomo (Spanish cured ham), purée buffalo mozzarella and house made gram crackers was my favourite for the night. A good balance between savory and sweet, smooth and crunchy, this dish is like summer on a plate. Great display of fresh ingredients. The snapper ceviche with watermelon, diced capsicum and begonia sat on top of a creamy avocado puree and that too was top-notch.

By comparison, the small dishes were far more impressive than the large. Our rye gnocchi with mushroom, sage and truffle was topped with a poached hen egg that oozed with yolk. Despite being served with a mushroom broth, this dish lacked moisture and the rye gnocchi could have benefited from some additional seasoning. Flavours of the mushrooms were fantastic, but there were clearly not enough mushroom to go around.

Thinking that dessert could redeem the gnocchi, we were rather disappointed with our dessert. Expecting an arty display like our small dishes, the “sweetness” end to our meal could have done with a prettier presentation. Tastewise, our kiwifruit sorbet with toasted kawakawa marshmallow and strawberry tart was good, but not superb.

To be fair, I came with high expectations and despite them not being met, we had a nice meal at Orphan’s Kitchen. Coming early is highly recommended unless you don’t mind waiting, and I personally suggest ordering more of the small plates where the pairings are more unique with a gorgeous presentation.

Orphan’s Kitchen | 18 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby

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