Inner city Auckland style comes to Takapuna courtesy of Pack & Company, the ‘social architects’ – their words, not ours – behind Everybody’s, Roxy, Libertine and Snapdragon. That means a stylish reboot of a heritage building – in this case, the former McKenzies department store. Downstairs is all bustling, energetic and bar-like, while the upstairs level is a classy bistro. Outside a spacious courtyard/garden bar segues into Little & Empire, a retro chic cocktail bar.
Efficient and friendly, especially early on a Sunday evening where moneyed Shore families seem to be the predominant demographic. New Zealand’s obviously come a long way since kids were given a bag of chips and a bottle of lemonade and told to wait in the car (just saying, Dad…).
Mac’s, Kirin and James Squire Amber Ale are all on tap, with Hoegaarden and Little Creatures the bottled beer standouts. A serious approach to cocktails includes spins on classics like a summer-friendly caiprihina made with fresh berries. There’s also wines aplenty with lots of excellent NZ options to partner the innovative food upstairs.
We’re enjoying The Commons as a bar, so tuck into beef and cheese bastillas – little Moroccan-style filo pastry parcels ($14) - and chilli squid ($14). A compact Jenga-style stack of chickpea fries with garlic aioli ($8) completes a bar snack trifecta. They’re all OK dishes – not standout – but go well with Little Creatures Pale Ale ($12) and a Sleeping Giant Chardonnay ($13).
The Bottom Line
The Commons is a cosmopolitan if pricey expansion of the Hurstmere Rd scene beyond Starbucks, sushi, and the cavernous bars and pubs further along the road. Just be prepared for summer at The Commons to resemble a series of Go Girls out-takes.
A Reason To Return
To head upstairs to The Commons bistro. The concise menu (mains $36) currently includes interesting options like ‘Carrot Cake’ snapper.
21 Hurstmere Road,
(09) 929 2791
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