The old proverbial saying about judging a book by its cover could easily nowadays apply to the dining scene, where appearances can often matter more for diners than the quality of food served. For a small cafe like Rosie with no flashy board sign or pretentious gimmicks, it would seem rather ambivalent to patrons on their continued success, given that casual on-goers through Gladstone Rd could easily miss the cafe situated on the outskirts of Parnell. For readers unaware of this gem in Auckland, Rosie is a cafe that embodies the idea that decor and appearances can mean very little when the food and service is simply a notch above the rest.
As you enter through the glass door, the first distinguishable feature for any patron is how small the premise is. From the open compact kitchen by the side to the barely 30 people seating arrangement, there is a confidence here that suggests the turnover of customers is the least of their priorities. A similar sentiment is shared among its staff whereupon the smartly dressed staff will greet you with a wholehearted smile as though you are their only customer. Such is the warmth from this cafe that it makes much of the minimalistic decor feel homey and more visually appealing than it would have been otherwise.
With the staple sparkling tap water and a simple fresh menu to read from, my friend and I selected the bigger mains for lunch which were the grilled duck with cous cous and the fish with risotto. This was complemented with a kumara side dish and a hot chocolate for my friend. Often now, cafe’s have such an extensive menu that it leaves the reader baffled as to what to choose from, so it was a pleasant surprise to find what we wanted relatively quickly. Credit to the owners that their morning/lunch menu as it is filled with a range of choices from a classic fry-up (with black pudding as well!) to the more trendy quinoa, granola nonsense. The only slight criticism we had for the menu was that it could have been spaced out a bit more readily with headers making it a bit easier to decode the intention of their dishes.
The wait time for our food took around 15 minutes which was reasonable, despite the cafe being only half full. The staff was also very tenacious in their service, knowing when to refill our waters and when to step back. Some places have over zealous staffs where it almost becomes burdensome for diners that they are constantly overlooked during their time. Thankfully this is not the case at Rosie. Another trivial complaint would be the number of flies that gather around the cafe. It is understandable that being surrounded by suburban greenery and being adjacent to Judges Bay, flies would normally attract itself to a pristine establishment, yet we couldn’t help but feel their predatory presence like scavengers ready to pounce on our food.
The moment we tried our dishes we knew Rosie was a pretty special place. Having just eaten at Odettes Eatery the month before, it was remarkable for my friend and I to concur immediately that the flavour here was indeed much more refined and spectacular. Not only was the proportion sizes more appropriate for the paid for, the fresh vibrant colours contrasted with the different edible elements made each and every dish ordered a sense of peculiar care. All the elements were cooked well, with the duck rendered perfectly and the John Dorry moist in texture juxtaposed with its crispy skin.The brilliance of the two mains is that it had a similar template whereupon there is a bountiful grain (couscous & risotto) to compliment the protein, some sort of acidic/pickled element for contrast and a crunchy texture – found in the hazelnut on the fish & the oat crumble on the duck. The elements worked very well making it a very enjoyable brunch indeed. Perhaps the star of the show and to our surprise, was the grilled kumara topped with ricotta. The fact we thought this was the most rewarding element was due to its simplicity yet ergonomic use of coriander butter which enhanced the smokiness of the smoked potato. Notwithstanding how brilliant the mains were, we felt the elegance of the kumara upheld its flavour the most and was indeed something we finished rather quickly. My friend also complemented the hot chocolate which is gospel in itself.
The only trivial fault presented by both the mains would be that some of the flavour from the meat were drowned out by its elements. For example, the duck came with a chilli rajas -a sauce that tasted like the drunken lovechild of the Japanese mayo and Hispanic chimichurri – that worked well on its own, but seemed to confuse the dish when served alongside the duck and cous cous. Although this doesn’t detract from the dish overall, a bit more clarity and subtleness would normally be expected at a higher refurbishment of this nature. Having said this, it would still be a pleasure to return to such wonderful cafe and hopefully return for their dinner set.
Concluding remark on Rosie is that it is simply beautiful food by beautiful people and something all Aucklanders should get a chance to enjoy.