Ponsonby welcomes a stunning new French bistro set to become the crème de la crème.
There are two things you ought to know before embarking upon a journey into the latest personage of the historic Ponsonby Post Office. The first being that once upon a time in the year 1920, the Ponsonby postmaster, Augustus Edward Braithwaite, who lived next door was murdered by a man, Dennis Gunn. Braithwaite’s was one of the first cases in the world to have led to a murder conviction solely due to fingerprint evidence. The second is about peacocks — an exotic symbol of nobility and refinement, and perhaps for their pride and beauty, a nod to the French.
These two influences, mysterious and regal, play a core part in the opulent environs of Ponsonby’s most notable new wining and dining establishment, Augustus. The formidable project has been helmed by dad and daughter duo, Chris and Courtney Rupe — the team responsible for maintaining the height of Ponsonby’s hospitality at SPQR for some years now. Conceived as an ambient French bistro, Augustus’ spectacular new fit out is the work of British designer Emma Richardson in collaboration with Paul Izzard Design.
With a list of luxury hospitality projects under her belt, including the infamous West Hollywood members’ club Hyde Sunset, Richardson’s directive has seen a timeless and elegant concept achieved in a manner that is anything but bland. The building’s celebrated Neo-Baroque features have been buffed up; its original kauri flooring stained black, and large patina mirrors, potted palm trees and intoxicating artwork introduced to set it all off. Meanwhile, the outdoor courtyard that will serve as the main entrance, is abounding with lush pot plants arranged by acclaimed landscape designer Andy Hamilton. Furthermore, the whimsical bouquets by Millie Austin of La Femme Fleur will line the former entrance, ready for the picking should occasion arise.
Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, the French bistro offering will give way to impeccable yet approachable dishes created by Des Harris (ex Clooney Restaurant). Expect to be able to dabble in the quintessentially Gallic persuasion of escargots and scallops Saint Jacques alongside other European classics of beef tartare, steak-frites and an exceptional crayfish sandwich. There’s also caviar and fresh oysters on offer, perfect for pairing with France’s finest Champagne if not a glass of NZ Rosé Co. rosé for the celebratory season ahead.
When asked how he would describe Augustus, the SPQR patriarch doesn’t miss a beat before saying “classic with a twist — just like a good martini”, just the way we like it.
Monday to Friday — 11.30am to midnight
Saturday & Sunday — 11am to midnight
1-3 St Mary's Road
(09) 950 4855