Eat the best crumpets you've ever tasted surrounded by art in a 137-year-old building.
April 19, 2016
Nestled amongst the hills of Monte Cecilia Park, Hillsborough, on over 100 acres of land you'll find an ornate and fascinating piece of Auckland's history; Pah Homestead. Built by a wealthy Irish land dealer in 1879 as his gentlemen's residence (bachelor pad?), this stark white, sprawling piece of Auckland's history was purchased by Auckland council in 2002, then repurposed as a public art gallery in 2010.
Skip through to March, 2016 and Pah Homestead has undergone another small transformation by the hands of restaurateurs Connor Nestor and Charles Williams, of Ceremony in Grafton. One inside room (on your left as you enter) now sports a white granite counter across its back wall, topped by a glass box full of counter goodies, and reflective coffee machine churning out Flight brews. Tall windows flood the room with sunlight, art from local creatives adorn most free space and an ornate marble fireplace is set into the side wall. Venture outside, and you'll find tables on a deck which wraps around the west, north and east sides of the building, providing views over the rolling hills of Monte Celia Park and the sculptures arranged across the lawn. It's one hell of a place to eat.
Coffee's the only thing that's easy to order as the duo behind Homestead are known for producing an excellent cuppa. Food presents more of a conundrum; there's an all day breakfast including slightly odd gems, such a crumpet slathered with ricotta, walnut, nectarine and fig leaf syrup ($18). Then there's the lunch menu which is comprised of bruschetta, fresh salads, smaller meals, larger meals and of course sides. Tossing up between the Lamb Scottadito with rosemary puree ($25) and the North African Chicken with saffron and chickpeas ($25), I decide to go with the one which is easier to pronounce. The chicken sits on a bed of seasoned chickpeas with a generous dollop of what appeared to be sour cream on top; it bursts with flavours of coriander and cinnamon. If you're keen on more of a snack meal, the lovely lass sitting opposite me (mum) had the house terrine and kumara sourdough with nectarine chutney ($19) and by her account it was absolutely delicious.
As you leave you'll most likely be tempted by the cabinet food, and like me you'll probably cave and order several cakes, which you'll guiltily inhale on the car ride home. The fellow at the counter recommended a ginger cake with pear, which he claimed was made from a recipe the chef's grandmother learnt during time at a monastery in Hong Kong. While it didn't quite live up to it's epic Eat Pray Love-esque backstory, I can confirm it was delicious, and that I'll be on the lookout for monasteries if I ever visit Hong Kong.
Well worth the drive out to Hillsborough, this is a rare venue that combines a truly special location, a deliciously unique menu and faultless hospitality experience. So I recommend you check out Homestead soon if you have any interest in stunning park views, delicious items and/or eating the best crumpets you've ever tasted, surrounded by art in a 137-year-old historic building