Tucked away in an alley off Lot 3, under what seems to be a busy office building, is Pintu - a cafe and salad bar focusing on fresh and healthy takeaway cuisine. Their location may just be a stroke of genius, offering a healthier alternative to the sauce-smothered, carb-heavy deliciousness of The Street Food Collective directly next door.
Stroll off Mackelvie Street and venture down the alleyway, and you'll most likely sight a hot dog stand or a food truck at its end. Resist the temptation and look to the right into Pintu, a poky wee cafe, with floor-to-ceiling windows and design from the illustrious Paul Izzard Interiors. Inside, the decor is clean and simple, featuring light stone benches, white walls with striking wooden detailing and a large granite salad bar which dominates most of the floor space. Ordering at this counter, I'm beset by that familiar confusion which most battle with whenever everything on the menu looks absolutely delicious.
There's a lot to choose from here, fresh cold pressed juices, smoothies and coffee to drink, to breakfast options, salads and gourmet sandwiches to eat. After ruling out a salad (come on, it's the weekend), I grapple with my choice of sandwich, and end up going with the Angus beef option ($15).
Our food is served promptly, and we're asked if everything is alright, to which I nod with a face full of sandwich. This thing's a masterpiece of spinach, tomato, caremelised onion, provolone cheese, Dijon mustard, aioli and presumably the tears of baby angels. As I eat I find myself making unintentionally loud sounds of pleasure, and copping slightly disturbed looks from other diners as I moan over my sandwich. Top it all off with a peanut butter smoothie ($9), full of oats, dates, PB, almond milk and all that is good in the world, and you have a fairly formidable lunch meal. My lunch sidekick, went with an Angus beef salad ($14) with mixed leaves, vermicelli, peanuts and Asian dressing; which while being very edible, wasn't anywhere near as mind blowing as my sandwich. Instead I recommend grabbing a "build you own salad" sheet off one of the benches and select your own, meat, leaves, toppings and sauces, and watching them build your masterpiece in front of you. Alternatively the haloumi and watermelon salad ($14) looks delicious, in a bizarre and slightly wrong way.
All in all, Pintu's a top notch spot for a quick and healthy bite in the heart of Ponsonby. There's plenty to choose from, convenient takeaway options, delicious Mojo coffee, gluten free, dairy free and vegan meals, and some absolute superstars on the menu (I'm looking at you Angus sandwich). I'll definitely be back for breakfast at some point, and will most likely return daily to marvel at the glory of their peanut butter smoothie.