Just Like Martha

Three Kings' slick new kid on the block arrives from the power couple behind Winona Forever, Major Tom and Fang.
Josie Steenhart
June 12, 2019


Winona Forever, Major Tom, Rude Boy, Fang, Friday I'm In Love, Sugar, Hello Friends + Allies — the quirky roll call of Auckland cafes all established by Francesca Mazza and Aaron Carson in recent years.

The pair's latest addition to their rockstar eateries is Just Like Martha, set up in a corner chunk of the newly built Obsidian apartments in Three Kings. 

Like its counterparts, the new kid on the block shares those defining elements that set all of Mazza and Carson's start-ups apart (other than catchy names) — a sense of upbeat playfulness coupled with great service, faultless coffee and tasty, visually delightful food, in stylish surroundings. It's the signature of all their cafes, though each still maintains its own unique charms.

Three Kings hasn't previously been known for its cafe culture, but the arrival of Just Like Martha might be the start of something, judging by the full house and hovering clusters of hopefuls. 

Designed in homage to the corner cafes of Europe, this corner cafe also has a distinctly Kiwi (in a good way), contemporary vibe. Curvy cane bistro chairs and white marble surfaces complement timber picnic-style benches and a wall mural of distinctly New Zealandy-looking trees.

It's deceptively spacious, with smaller tables dotted throughout, a wooden leaner opposite the counter for takeaway customers and all those hopefuls, plus an 'outdoor' terrace area with shared bench seating, that in winter has been covered in with clear plastic walls that make for a surprisingly robust and cosy space.

And while the view over the back fence is somewhat marred by a giant bare earth quarry, you can also see the bush-clad Three Kings or Te Tatua-a-Riukiuta volcano that gives the area its name. And luckily, the food is so pretty that no-one will be looking out the windows for long anyway.

Each is a plate-sized artwork — cleverly layered, packed with colour, texture and flavour and finished with imaginative flourishes and garnishes.

There are no plain white breads here either; dark chocolate, spinach or chilli brioche, herbed focaccia and kumara sourdough are the current offerings.

With its cone of wobbly pink raspberry and white chocolate panna cotta, thyme meringue and maple fried banana, the French toast is more of a breakfast/dessert hybrid and could likely convert even the most strident of savoury breakfast lovers to the sweet side.

Eggs benny fans will be thrilled to find there's a choice of two — one erring on the more traditional side with smoked bacon, citrus hollandaise and spinach brioche, the other pushing a few more boundaries with braised beef cheek, balsamic hollandaise, gravy and a potato stack.

There's also a Martha's big breakfast, a spicy Sichuan-heated twist on mince on toast, and kids are cutely catered for too with a mini French toast with maple syrup and whipped cream, a boiled egg with Marmite soldiers or a ham and cheese toastie.

For those arriving later in the day, there's a double buttermilk fried chicken burger with southern slaw, chow chow relish, aioli, a beer-battered fish of the day (both come with shoestring fries) and a seasonal soup with focaccia.

Coffee Supreme coffee comes quickly and excellently made from the suitably cheeky pink coffee machine, and a cabinet heaving with decadent treats from cream doughnuts to giant lamingtons is hard to go past.

And for the ultimate 'local cafe' cherry on the top, it's also dog-friendly — your furry pal will even get a hot-pink blanket to relax on.


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