wholly bagels & pizza – a review on the fly

baby bagelsmall but perfectly formed.

This is actually sort of a three part review, because I have had Wholly Bagels & Pizza thrice since my arrival. Oops. But I’ll focus on the first time, which was the best experience. Cuba Mall is probably my favourite of the branches that I’ve visited, and the coffee was on point – long blacks are always a good way of gauging an establishment’s coffee-concocting abilities, since it’s coffee sans any flourishes. Short blacks would be similarly useful, I imagine, but their potency is just a little much for me to handle. My mum assures me that their flat whites were good too – she prefers one that isn’t too ultra milk-heavy, and it did well on this matter. I had a jalapeño cheddar bagel with sun-dried tomato cream cheese, and it was fine indeed, though a little too much for my tender stomach to consume all at once. Would recommend this particular combo.

Time the second was at the new Willis Street branch, and consisted of a cheeky bit o’ pizza, in part because I was having Sal’s cravings and it was the closest I could get to in this part of the country. Not bad, not bad, but no Sal’s, at least not overall. That being said, their pepperoni was better than I’ve had elsewhere – but it’s never my flavour of choice, so I feel it’s a little unfair to draw significant comparisons until I’ve had a flavour more to my tastes, but one must make do with limited cabinet offerings in the mid-afternoon.

And time the third was a mixed bag. Customhouse Quay, and empty except for me. The bagel I had was delicious (bacon and egg, with cheese and relish, on a mini plain bagel) but the coffee was just awful. It tasted salty, which at first made me wonder whether I’d grabbed the wrong sachets, but I double checked the residue, and it was definitely sugar. Very strange, very unpleasant. I probably should have mentioned it to staff there, but I was in a bit of a rush, so just downed what I could stomach, before moving on.

The moral of the story? Their bagels are gorgeous across the table, but the coffee can be hit-or-miss. The Cuba Mall location would definitely be my recommendation, especially on sunny days when there are magical buskers outside. And the $7 coffee and bagel special is hella good in a world where half the cafe sandwiches cost that much or more. Go do it. Just make sure you say something if your coffee tastes a little funky.

alleluya! it’s spqr!

So, it may be raining again today, but yesterday was a gloriously sunshiney kind of day. To the point where siestas were required mid afternoon, just to regain some of the energy sapped by the sun and an early start. But it did offer some moments of appreciation for Auckland’s inner-city offerings, with regard to food and shopping. Especially food. That may be the prednisone talking, to some extent, but hey! If it means that brunch is more thoroughly enjoyed, so be it.

And it is on that theme, therefore, that I bring you some details of said loveliness, so that you too may enjoy what Auckland has to offer.

Wandering along Ponsonby Road towards K Rd (since the weather was simply too delicious to clamber onto a Link bus), the day started off in a splendid fashion when I finally checked out Shellshock, and bought myself a little pair of red glass butterfly earrings, and a itty bitty skull and crossbones ring (I’m on a major ring kick right now – when my latest Etsy find arrive, I’ll be sure to share a picture of my adorned fingers). With new jewellery about my person, we continued along, past some angry shouty 10am drunks hanging around on the city side of the K Rd overbridge, and sat ourselves down at Alleluya.

Alleluya and I go way back. Aside from the on-campus cafes, and the Robert Harris at the Whitcoulls I used to work at, I can safely say that it’s the cafe I have spent the most time and money at over the past few years. I started going there in 2006-ish, I guess, when I was 15/16 and discovering the joys of K Rd and op shops and attempting to be ‘cool’ in an artsy, indie kind of way. It’s probably where I first realised that coffee could be super delicious amazing. I would look longingly at the art in the windows, especially the stuff by Misery, and wish that it were mine.

Of course, now, six or so years later (oh jeez), coffee and me don’t get along as well as we used to, and whilst the breakfast burrito that I enjoyed a few years back may still be on their menu, its legumey goodness ain’t on mine. But goodness was still there to be had. The eggs benedict with ham was great, if a little small, but the size was ultimately fine with me, since it gave me an excuse to have brunch-dessert in the form of a slice of orange upside-down cake. Dom had the Spanish omelette, and all reports on the matter were positive. Delicioso!

Brunching was, naturally, following by some Queen Street shoppin’ – since Dom’s jetting off this evening, there were the requisite last minute purchases to be made at Kathmandu and the like. Fun fun! And after thoroughly exhausting ourselves, we retreated home to relax and recuperate to make sure we were all bright eyed and bushy-tailed for the evening’s planned exploits – an anniversary/going away dinner at SPQR.

We’ve been working our way around various Ponsonby Rd establishments since moving into the area in August, but despite our collective historical inclinations, we hadn’t yet made it to SPQR. But we did last night, and despite the platter we ordered never turning up (ultimately a good thing, because if there’s been feta and sun dried tomatoes as well as pizza bread, I don’t think I would have had space for my main), it was all delightful. There was a woman who looked suspiciously like Ladyhawke one table over from us, which was entertaining (a good follow up to spotting Phil Keoghan at Toru last weekend…), the pork belly was both free range and delicious, and Dom’s Italian fish stew (clearly he was into the Mediterranean dishes yesterday) was purportedly lovely too. The wine was good, the ambience was chatty but classy, it was just peachy.

Just peachy. And now it’s Sunday, and Dom’s disappearing this evening, and it’s time to get my write on.