It’s a date – time to dress up and go out

With so many great cafes, restaurants and bars in Ponsonby and the surrounding suburbs, our readers are spoilt for choice.

For a romantic evening out
With the glow of summer fading, a romantic night out is always a nice escape from everyday life. It’s a time to get dressed up, leave the kids at home and your work worries behind. Indulge in elegant surroundings with someone special and enjoy divine foods in some of our favourite locations for romantic evenings.

For a truly luxurious night out, the award-winning Sidart, at the Three Lamps end of Ponsonby Road, offers an intimate dining environment and a reputation for producing exceptional cuisine. It’s the perfect excuse to dress up and enjoy quiet conversation without phones or interruptions.

Situated in the tranquil and spacious historic post office on St Marys Road is Augustus, a romantic bistro with an expansive beverage list. The choice of Champagne on their list is impressive, with many wines from the famous Mudbrick Vineyard. The Mudbrick methode traditionelle and rose are both a delightful way to begin an evening. Cocktails are engineered with precision and, with 19 different gins and 21 choices of premium rum, there are many delectable ways to begin and conclude an evening in style.

The best night for a romantic evening is Friday with both Thursday and Saturday nights typically busier with after-work drinks and big groups. For refined elegance and breathtaking views, a degustation menu at the Sugar Club is a wonderful choice. The chefs and staff of The Sugar Club create an experience that matches the priceless views.

Other suggestions for a romantic night out:
Coco’s Cantina
Paris Butter
Ponsonby Road Bistro
The Grove

A night out with the girls
Catching up with friends at one of the local bars or restaurants around Ponsonby and Grey Lynn is an easy way to reconnect after a busy week or month. Cocktails at Mr Toms or Mea Culpa are a great way to start the night. Both offer extensive cocktail lists and talented bar staff. Sipping a delicious concoction poured from fine China at The Gypsy Tea Room, is part of what makes this place a local icon. Its longevity is testament to its charm and ability to be a place where memories are made and then reminisced upon.

When considering where to eat on a girl’s' night out, choosing to go somewhere with real character and soul can make all the difference. Coco’s Cantina on K’Road is full of life and positive energy. Founders and sisters Renee and Damaris Coulter are all about the people, with ethically and locally sourced ingredients and an underlying philosophy that guarantees good food and a great vibe. We also have it on good authority that their Monday Date Night, a three-course meal with wine and regional food themes, is definitely romance worthy as well as being kind on the pocket.

Another fabulous destination is The Vodka Room. It’s not only brimming with personality, it also offers a refreshingly different menu and an impressive array of vodka-based cocktails. With an extensive list of quality vodkas, guests can enjoy shots between courses Russian style. It’s a place to let yourself be transported by the opulent decor and rich aromas to a nostalgic version of Russia that demands a good time.

Other great places to catch up with girls or guys include:
Chapel Bar
Elbow Room
Freida Margolis
Malt Bar

What to wear? Sarah says….
Sitting outside doesn’t have to be something reserved for summer evenings, the cooler weather allows us to introduce layers, beautiful knits and long coats. I personally love a long coat, paired with a beautiful knit, be it turtleneck, low v or off-the-shoulder top, with a wide-leg woollen trouser or skinny high-waist jean. A long sleeved dress with the comeback of long boots is always an option, too. I’m loving the 70s’ vibe that’s been hanging for a few seasons and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in a hurry.

Often less is more, but that doesn’t always mean less clothing. To me, showing skin doesn’t always equal guaranteed sexiness. On a romantic date, it’s all about confidence especially when it’s a first date, which means feeling comfortable without donning our trackies! Effortlessly sexy and comfortable is an attainable ideal.

Silhouette balances that work for your shape, and beautiful fabrics are important things to consider. Of course the luxury of silk or cashmere against the skin always feels amazing. Again, a turtleneck layered under a long-sleeved dress or shirt, an oversized knit and voluminous trousers and coat looks great. Alternatively, a fitted knit and high-waist, figure-hugging trousers are a look I love but these aren’t always universally flattering for different shapes, sizes and heights. A compromise to replicating a full editorial fashion look (that may not have the desired effect against your body) could be to have a looser silk shirt or knit with a fitted jean or cropped trouser with a long coat an pump heels if the weather allows.

Bareing the top of your foot gives an elongating effect to your legs. Alternatively, a wide leg, high-waist trouser with a fine, fitted knit is a winner for those more confident to wear a body hugging top.

Go with what works for your shape. In saying that, like I’ve said, more importantly go with how you feel. There shouldn’t be rules. Guidelines, yes, if you wish to be guided but not rules. Bodies change from season to season, year to year, embrace what works for you on the day with your beautiful, always evolving body!

Invest in quality, timeless fabrics where you can, remembering how many amazing recycle boutiques we have in this area if your budget doesn’t allow for new.


Dinner with the whole family
Sometimes it’s a family affair. You need to go somewhere that can handle the challenges of a bigger group, with younger diners as well as those with specific dietary requirements.

Sometimes it’s all about timing. Picking the right restaurant for a young family can be as much about when you go as where you go. Another Ponsonby institution, Prego, has a reputation for being a great place to dine early with young children. Before the popular eatery is buzzing with groups both large and small, the team at Prego manages to make young guests feel welcome and special.

There are some places that do so many things right. The Butcher’s Son on Jervois Road is just such a place. Whether it’s a quick glass of organic wine in the warm afternoon sun, or an impromptu early family dinner, this innovative vegan restaurant knows how to make guests of all ages and palates feel welcome.

Staff understand their menu so well that they can help the most conservative meat eater or picky younger diner choose something delicious. With colouring-in activities and youthful easy-going staff, the Butcher’s Son is wonderful choice for a family celebration.

Of course you can’t beat a good burger and the team at Burger Burger has this down to an art. Great for adults and kids alike, this fun burger bar is a great place to eat, enjoy a cold beer, a house cola or one of their wonderful cocktails. With an upbeat atmosphere, and wonderful service this place continues to rock. Ponsonby Central continues to introduce new and exciting eating opportunities, the latest being Food Truck Garage which offers something for just about every tastebud.

Other great choices for family night out include:
Mexicoon Sundays - kids eat free.
Ponsonby Food Court
Pane e Vino
The Grounds, Henderson Valley Road - has an incredible children’s playground

From work to play, Sarah says...
Office attire is a thing of the past. Unless you work in an extremely formal corporate environment, or have a uniform, most industries allow you to be the creator of your daily style. I love this, it gives us all the freedom to create our own vibe and feel. I’m not neglecting the fact that this can be extremely daunting for some – sometimes the ‘weekday uniform’ can be a place of comfort. I feel like people should look at it as a way to convey who they want to be on any given day. We all have days we feel a little more confident than others; seize those days and have fun with your style!

If I have a date with friends or a beau after work, I’ll often wear something that works with sneakers or flats so I can change into heels or boots and transform my look depending on how I’m feeling. Dresses worn with hightop black Chucks for day time, changed to heels for night time is easier than you’d expect.

My car always has a change of shoes, jackets/coats – two things that can turn a look around. In saying that, my car is evidence of an occupational hazard, one or two extras is fine, any more and you’ll have some Marie Kondo-ing to do – the car version.

Coffee and brunch
Weekend brunch, morning coffee or a working lunch, the options in and around Ponsonby are almost endless. Institutions like Dizengoff have continued to offer good coffee and delicious salmon bagels for 25 years.

After the morning school run, lunch with friends, or something to celebrate, Seabreeze in Westmere always delivers the best experience. The perfect coffee and salmon slider at Seabreeze is the best start to the day. Well and Good does a divine turmeric latte using homemade almond milk that tastes incredible and makes you feel nourished.

And if lunch on the run is the order of the day, Ripe’s delicious salads, upbeat vibe and exceptional coffee are simply the best.

If the origin of what you eat is important to you, Bread and Butter Bakery and Cafe is your custodian of goodness. Its breads are made from certified organic ingredients, often using ancient grains to ensure the goodness of the bread is a foundation for the loaf.

As winter gets closer, it's nice to plan lunch dates and evenings out. In Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Herne Bay and the surrounding city-fringe suburbs, the choices are world class. To find out more about some of the cafes, bars and restaurants we have covered in this story, head to our website and check out the Ponsonby News, Little Black Book.

Other great cafe choices:
Five Loaves
Richmond Rd Cafe
Ripe Deli
Well and Good

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