I’m a serial café-hopper. In winter, there’s nothing better than stepping out of the cold, into a warm café and being slapped in the face by wafts of coffee. So, when I’m not glued to my desk on weekdays, you’ll find me brunching away the weekend.
Last weekend, I went to Newmarket’s eclectic and vibrantly styled new addition to their expanding foodie empire, Newbie. Designed by Material Creative's Evie Kemp, it’s an eye-catching eatery housed in the new Mercury building on Broadway. The design pays homage to Newmarket’s art-deco past; it’s almost post-modern New York with a Kiwi twist – think neon, bright murals and furniture based upon the humble cabbage tree, accessorised with large dried flowers and jars upon jars of pickles above the counter top.
For this bright contribution to Auckland’s popular brunch scene, the focus is customer experience. Instead of an industrial-sized coffee machine, a clean-cut La Marzocco Modbar steam espresso machine has been installed, so that coffee-grabbers can watch their beverage being made. Owner Roger Liu, of Woolfy’s in East Tamaki, explained that he wanted to remove the element separating diner from barista, to enhance customer interaction. The coffee is made by a hand-picked team of experienced baristas, including the award-winning Leo Li. I ordered a V60, a coffee created by steady brewing and filtering, allowing for punchy flavour and notes of chocolate and blueberry. My partner decided upon a caramel latte, with a mermaid designed into the foam. It's pure coffee wizardry.
We took a seat and a looked at the menu. If you’re a brunch at 3pm kind of person, it’s a go-to. We opted for the Crumbly Apple, Strawberry and Rhubarb with Vanilla Coconut Whip. It came out of the kitchen steaming, picture-perfect and with an abundance of texture. The focus here is the fruit, which is beautifully cooked and flavoursome.
French Kissed Toast, soon followed. Crumbed brioche was beautifully-plated with oranges, strawberry, poached pear and berry crème. The macadamia casing made for the perfect crunch, and the brioche was pillowy soft inside. Roger explained that he and the chefs wanted to focus on the quality and taste of food as priority, with the correct dose of Instagram-flamboyance. It’s evident in this dish, which gets the balance just right without the diner being left with a mouthful of flowers.
Next up was the Beef Brisket Burger, horseradish ranch and fries. As the first meat-based dish, we were intrigued, but if there’s anything that the team at Newbie do well, it’s slow-cooked meat. Rubbed in Atomic Coffee, the beef is then cooked through the night ready to be served the next day. “We use dehydrated capers and olive to give more of an intense flavour,” Roger revealed. It’s encased in soft, fresh bread and served with crispy, yet fluffy fries. My partner, who loves meat, was left feeling incredibly happy.
But for me, it was the Peppered Lamb Pappardelle that stole the show. Served with slow-cooked lamb, medjool date puree, charred baby onion, jus and black pepper sauce, it’s comfort eating at its finest. The sauce was delicious without being too sweet, complementing the lamb (which breaks apart to touch) perfectly. It’s the perfect meal for a Sunday afternoon, and we finished the bowl. One piece of advice? Keep your eyes open for wandering forks.
Popular options on the menu are Roger’s Hangover Hash, a comforting array of fried potatoes, chorizo, friend egg, red capsicum salsa and labneh. Another is the Breakfast Ramen Bowl with mushroom broth, enoki, shiitake and Zealong black tea marbled egg, perfect to warm up on a winter’s day.
Post-lunch and full to the brim, Roger guided us to the tea menu. On offer was a selection of delicious Zealong beverages. We chose Sweet Amber and Green Tea, which arrived in small tea pots alongside a trio of cakes fresh from the cabinet. It was an idyllic end to a Sunday afternoon, and we'll definitely be back.
33 Broadway, Newmarket, Auckland 1023
Monday - Friday: 6.30am - 4pm
Weekends: 8am - 4pm