Ponsonby’s much loved Post Office building has seen its fair share of operators in its time. But when the iconic corner site became available earlier this year, restaurateur Hugo Baird (Lilian, Honey Bones) saw the chance to put into action an idea he’d long wanted to actualise: a bustling gastropub.
Having just opened this past weekend, Hotel Ponsonby harnesses the spirit of pubs Baird worked in during stints in Sydney, and that he frequented in London. The sort of go-to meeting place where friends, families, groups and couples come together amidst a convivial, relaxed atmosphere.
While the food and beverage offering is elevated far above your typical Kiwi pub fare (as to be expected from the high standard of his other eateries), Baird is clear that the aim is for it to still be approachable; “We’re not too fancy to have fries.”
Expect to find the likes of moreish bites like herby house-made focaccia, able to be supplemented with cured meats like mortadella, Iberian chorizo or ham, duck liver parfait, plus smoked fish rillettes, and poached kingfish with chilli. There’s a good smattering of both fresh and heartier dishes, with cucumbers with stracciatella and dill, and tomatoes and peaches tossed in basil oil harnessing the best of our summer produce, sitting alongside an exquisitely cooked lamb heart dish (trust us) and wagyu beef with bearnaise.
Those wanting food to supplement a pint or two will be pleased to see Hotel Ponsonby’s upmarket take on classics like battered fish — theirs is monkfish, paired with yoghurt tartare and curry sauce — chicken schnitzel with cornichons and sage; the aforementioned fries; fried squid — and more.
The space, with its soaring ceilings, impressive bar, fireplace and sunny courtyard, has been given a forest green overhaul by both Baird and the team at interior design studio CTRL Space, who felt it was important to create a space that felt authentic given the location inside an iconic heritage building like the old post office. With Baird having successfully made his mark in Grey Lynn with Lilian, CTRL Space aimed to carry through that aesthetic to Hotel Ponsonby, while delivering something new and exciting to the area.
Thanks to the layout, different zones allow for varying moods. TV screens in the front room screen sports matches, while groups of friends or families with young children can dine in the adjacent dining room or relax in the courtyard. Baird’s modus operandi is for Hotel Ponsonby to be an inclusive, welcoming place for all. “I like the idea that it’s accessible to everyone, always.”
Monday to Wednesday: 4pm — late
Thursday to Sunday: 12pm – late
1 Saint Marys Road