It would seem the whole of Auckland has been waiting with baited breathe for the opening of Augustus Bistro—and there’s a myriad of reasons to explain why. Firstly, the owners are none other than father and daughter duo, Chris and Courtney Rupe from Ponsonby Road’s infamous SPQR. Now, SPQR has been keeping punters happy for close to quarter of a century—and this is no mean feat. Very rarely, if ever, do you hear of a restaurant that can move with the times and keep the consistency as high as they do. Secondly, the grand building in which this new restaurant calls home dates back more 100 years and still maintains its historic charm. There may or may not have been a murder in the building, too… But don’t let that put you off.
The old Ponsonby Post Office has been transformed from its tired predecessors. As a whole, the interior (designed by Paul Izzard) is tastefully monochrome. On further, inspection there’s notable details in every which way—old timber has licks of glossy black paint, there’s deep grey leather, plenty of marble, flecks of gold and lush greenery throughout. And, hello! Just in time for summer, Augustus boasts a generous courtyard that’s adorned with pot plants and vines and a large canopy for that much needed shade. All in all, the fit-out oozes refined French glamour; as does the rest of its offerings.
Ah—French food—how we adore you. Here, the menu is of classic offerings. Dishes are simple and plated up with exacting precision. To begin, there’s a handful of seafood options, oysters with mignonette and lemon, Scallop Saint—Jacques and Sturia Caviar, if you’re that way inclined.
There’s Charcuterie—perfect to feast on as a table. Poussin and Ham Hock Terrine with cornichon and lemon. And of course, the French classic—duck liver parfait served alongside Saint-Germain jelly.
If you’re in the mood for something substantial, you’d be wise to choose from one of their sandwiches. There’s a toasted jamon, truffle and comte, a French cheeseburger with smoked cheese and bacon and (!) a succulent crayfish club.
Entrees consist of Escargots (highly recommended even if you’re a little terrified of eating snails), French onion soup, or a beautifully silky crab bisque. Mains are just as pleasing. Duck Confit is served alongside tangy red cabbage, prune, apple and parmesan. The dry-aged sirloin, classic bearnaise sauce, red wine jus and fries (of the French kind) is totally delicious.
There’s seven (that’s not a typo) desserts to choose from! The Rhubarb Tarte Tatin is served alongside vanilla crème brulée. While the yoghurt and meringue bombe is a pillowy white cloud on first glance, break it open and in the centre you’ll find frozen raspberry sorbet sitting atop a buttery crumb.
Of course, there’s plenty of French Champagne, wine and cocktails to wash it all down with. And... that perfectly sleek and knowledgeable service we’ve all grown accustomed to at SPQR undoubtedly shines through here, too.
Augustus is one new opening you hands down have to visit—we only have one problem with it—if we make it our new local, will SPQR think we’re cheating? Hopefully they’ll both allow us to visit them often... We’re not ones to two-time, but in this instance: it’s more than necessary.
Image credit: Lauren Matilda Matthews