From the duo behind Cazador comes San Ray — an elevated new all-day eatery occupying the ex-Orphan’s Kitchen locale in the heart of Ponsonby

“San Ray is a place where you can eat, drink and stay all day,” Rebecca Smidt tells me of her and her partner’s new venture occupying the space that, up until recently, housed Orphan’s Kitchen. “We’re inspired by the slow pace of driving the Pacific Coast Highway, Baja, and Mexico” she continues, “We love the bright flavours of Oaxaca, and that’s what you’ll find peppered throughout the menu.”

Rebecca and Dariush are the hospitality stalwarts behind Cazador (and offshoot, Cazador Deli), the eatery they’ve now run for over 10 years, cultivating the institution’s incredible legacy. Call it the 10-year itch, or simply the desire to branch out, but a few months ago when the Orphan’s space came up, Rebecca knew it was time to give something else a go, “We’ve always wondered what we’d create if we didn’t have Cazador’s legacy — if we were starting from scratch,” she tells me, “and San Ray is the answer to that question.”

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Left to right: Burnt Confit Leek and Chargrilled Mushroom Skewer

From what I’ve seen, it’s a fantastic answer indeed — a space that caters to all, with myraid options for drinking, dining, stopping by, staying all day, or anything (and everything) in between. “At San Ray, our guests are invited to ease into the day with eighthirty organic coffee, take back the lunch hour with a carafe of wine, order a small plate, maybe another… or go all out with a multi-course dinner, paired drinks, and dessert.” Rebecca proudly states, “It’s about taking it slow, being indulgent and eating well. All day.”

When it comes to the eatery’s layout, not too much has changed since Oprhan’s, but there’s been a definite face lift, with subtle changes elevating the eatery and shifting it’s usage ever so slightly. Stepping inside, expect a relaxed and comfortable dining room designed by Forma, with inspiration drawn from the lilac hues of the Monmouth Glass chandelier. Out the back, the covered patio has been given a laid-back makeover, transforming it into a more than perfect spot for convivial drinks and snacks, and the space upstairs has been transformed into a private (and very chic) room for party people.

On the food front, the options are diverse and plentiful, from breakfast favourites like eggs, crumpets, and toast, to an all-day menu with confident versions of the classics — from caesar salad, crudo, an Ohau farm wagyu rib eye steak, and tajín fries, to a number of tasty snacks, decadent desserts, and a few more tasty surprises yet to come.

The drinks list is extensive, elevated, and everyman, with a wine list highlighting premium local producers and quality internationals — with a few tasty drops on tap, and an extensive cellar. Cocktails include mezcal margaritas, Svitlo Ukrainian vodka espresso martinis, and micheladas, while there are a few favourite beers on tap for those languid afternoons come spring and summer.

San Ray 1/2 Bird Wood-Fired Chicken

Inspiring early knock-offs (just like the good old days), at San Ray’s Golden Afternoons (Tuesday to Saturday, 3-5pm), there’s a feel-good trio of house-made chips, dip and a glass of Champagne for just $30 per person. Champagne Collet Art Deco Brut is the house pour, and you can go large and add Sturia caviar if you please.

With Rebecca’s hallmark well-informed and generous service, Dariush on the tools in the kitchen (a job he’s very adept at indeed), and a thoughtful, elevated-yet-casual menu spanning both food and drinks, San Ray has all the makings of a future institution.

Opening Hours:
Tuesday — Saturday, 7.30am — late

Sunday — Monday, 7.30am — 3pm

San Ray

118 Ponsonby Road


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