>> Ponsonby Road Cafe | Eat the World Los Angeles

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Ponsonby Road Cafe

NEW ZEALAND 🇳🇿


COVID-19 UPDATE: The few seats this small café did have are of course unavailable at the moment, as is the outdoor space. Takeout and pickup could not be more of a breeze as the staff here is highly skilled for even that picky Lululemon crowd.

The pandemic has certainly ruined many lives across many industries, with restaurants continuously seeing more and more casualties. But amongst this carnage, there have been quite a few brave souls that have continued their plans to open new businesses. In Beverly Grove, Ponsonby Road Cafe announced their opening to the world at the beginning of August, just when outdoor dining only rules were starting to feel normal and ok.
 
Trips to Auckland, New Zealand invariably end up at least once on the namesake thoroughfare, home to a busy dining, drinking, and shopping district. This name will invariably pull in customers from New Zealand that have relocated here to Los Angeles, and first impressions look good from expats who are using many exclamation points and quite a high ratio of capitalization in their online reviews.
 

 
A case full of meat pies faces you when you walk in the skinny space, and of course some non-meat ones since Beverly Hills is only a couple minutes away. In fact a lot of their initial menu seems set up to stay in business from that post-workout crowd, one of which walked in during this visit and asked very seriously if they had cold brew OR JUST iced coffee, then got the former with oat milk "THANK GOD!"
 
The friendly Kiwis that own and run the place seem to have figured out this balance though, and were delighted when they took orders for meat pies and flat whites, which is obviously their real passion and reason for opening. Any coffee order will probably get you one of their miniature chocolate chip cookies, but do order that flat white since you know that they will nail it properly.


So yes, there are plenty of panini and toast with avocado options on the menu, as well as a shrimp burrito that actually sounds pretty tasty, but focus on the real raison d'être and order as many pies as you can afford. Meatpie shops are so dear to the people of New Zealand that their creations are competition and as such they keep improving.

If the playing field of Los Angeles could have been surveyed before Ponsonby Road Cafe opened, it would have safely been assumed that those expats from Australia and New Zealand were left wanting more.

It is unclear whether veggie versions have different stickers.
 
Since it is currently impossible to eat either inside or outside of the cafe, plan to pick up and warm the pies later at home. The staff will give you clear instructions for getting them perfect in the oven, which will include 30 minutes of prep to get the center hot.
 
The other benefit of getting this on a plate at home is that the flaky crusts will not be all over your lap and/or car seat. Part of the real masterpiece here is that flaky container, each one shaped and decorated a bit different to set them apart from one another. The dough has areas of denseness and others of lightness and its layered quality is almost like that of phyllo dough.
 
Chicken curry and steak mushroom.
 
As the pies were being packed at the shop, the proprietor made mention of the ketchup he was including with the order. "In New Zealand most people will put ketchup on them, it's really popular there." His word must be taken at face value, but thankfully the pies require not a drop of ketchup and are marvelous on their own.
 
The steak and mushroom meatpie ($9, above and below, right) is especially fatty and luxurious, as presumably the other steak options are as well. Biting into it is one of those delicious moments where you are forced to look over at your eating companion (or possible a pet) and nod together in approval with wide eyes.
 
 
 
Curry options like the chicken curry meatpie ($9, above left) are always popular and use the same great outer wrap. As you can see this is more dense and does not quite fall out when cut in half like the steak.
 
Less off-putting than the ketchup is the included small container of habanero sauce, which you will be warned to use sparingly. In fact it is not that overly spicy for folks who enjoy those things, but it is nice to use on a bite here and there just for some variety. On future visits, the steak, cheese, and jalapeño as well as the mince meatpies are very much being looked forward to. Welcome home to Ponsonby Road.

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