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Birkenhead Cafe Duo Has Just Extended Its Offering with a Delicious Dinner Menu Made for Sharing

Birkenhead's best-kept secret has just levelled up.
By Sarah Templeton
November 16, 2022
By Sarah Templeton
November 16, 2022

North Shore locals and citywide brunch aficionados will probably be familiar with Duo, Birkenhead's best-kept secret that has been pumping out fresh seasonal breakfasts and Supreme coffee since its March opening.

Well great news — after a long (long) wait for a liquor licence, husband-and-wife duo Jordan (Culprit, Lowbrow) and Sarah (Woodpecker Hill, Culprit) Macdonald have now extended their offering to the evening. They're now serving dinner from Wednesday — Friday, turning their calm and cosy space into one of the city's rare all-day eateries.

It's great news for diners but as expected, it's been a mammoth undertaking for the couple. On the night we dined, Sarah confirmed to us that she arrives each day for the breakfast shift, then picks her three young children up from daycare in the afternoon, before heading back to Duo for dinner service in the evening.

It's this same 'everywhere all at once' method she brings to her role as front of house — in the space of three minutes (approx) we watched her chat to patrons, clear empty plates, provide a customer with a bar-side wine tasting, whip up a margarita and run piping hot dishes from the kitchen. But despite the pace, Duo has a decidedly relaxed atmosphere — as if you've just popped to a friend's house for dinner. Friends who happen to make really, really excellent food.

Much like its brunch menu, Duo's new dinner offering is all about simple rustic fare with an elegant spin. The menu is split into snacks, smaller and larger sharing dishes and sides  — with a three-strong dessert menu to finish things off. There's also a daily specials board which changes depending on what's in season.

If you're those ordering from the menu, don't miss the crispy eggplant with nduja dressing and buffalo curd to kick things off. Standout larger plates include the gnocchi, which comes pan-fried with confit oyster mushrooms, crispy cavello nero and a parsnip puree. Pair that with the succulent steak and a side of fried cauliflower with cashew cream and za'atar, guaranteed to sway even the most ardent of vegetable heaters.

If you're there with a group, the whole lamb shoulder serves four (or two very hungry individuals) — it's pressed and braised for 24 hours and served with red pepper, harissa, cauliflower puree and a fresh herb salad.

The wine list is also excellent. Beat the humidity with one of the refreshing orange skin-on varietals (or one of the local beers if that's more your sway) and move to a heartier red with your meat-focused meal — the self-explanatory 'Big Red' syrah/merlot bland is stunning.

The restaurant itself is a calming yet vibey space that suits all types. On a Thursday evening, it housed couples on date nights, friends catching up over dinner and more raucous groups sharing some snacks and wines. We imagine that as word spreads about the dinner offering, bookings will be absolutely essential this summer.

Duo is now open for brunch and dinner from Wednesday — Friday (7am - 9pm-ish) and brunch on weekends (7am - 2pm). You'll find it at 138 Hinemoa Street — head to the website to check out the menu.

Published on November 16, 2022 by Sarah Templeton
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