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photo 2Grey clouds rolled in from the south as our train pulled in to Plim­mer­ton sta­tion. While it detrac­ted from the care­free sea­side ambi­ence, the autum­nal chill put us in the mood for a hearty north­ern European meal and heightened our crav­ing for hard liquor.

Inside Topor, the cosy atmo­sphere per­fectly com­ple­men­ted the wintry exter­i­or: warm wood and stone sur­faces under soft light­ing, with vex­il­lo­lo­gic­ally appro­pri­ate red and white accents. The only dif­fi­culty was select­ing a rep­res­ent­at­ive sample from the menu without our bel­lies explod­ing. We are two gen­tle­men of con­sid­er­able appet­ite, but alas, we are mere mor­tals, so we had to choose judiciously.

We began with kasz­anka and kieł­basa i grzyb. The former was rich, crumbly black pud­ding (tex­tur­ally closer to French boud­in noir than to the famil­i­ar Eng­lish hard saus­age) atop puréed can­nel­lini beans, with plum chut­ney as a tangy accent. The kieł­basa was a glor­i­ously gar­licky saus­age, stacked on a bal­sam­ic-roast Por­to­bello mush­room, with sauerkraut, capers and Pep­padews. The sweet bal­sam­ic vin­eg­ar could have been over­whelm­ing, but it bal­anced out the acid­ic zing of the oth­er ingredi­ents. Des­pite their rus­tic her­it­age, these entrées were del­ic­ately and lov­ingly presented.

The mains exchanged del­ic­acy for gen­er­os­ity, not that we had any com­plaints when presen­ted with bowls piled high with mouth­wa­ter­ing meat and car­bo­hydrates. We couldn’t go past the fam­ous pierogi, and these rib-stick­ing dump­lings were giv­en a lift with goat’s feta stuff­ing. They were served on bacon and fried onion, with horseradish aioli giv­ing the already mag­ni­fi­cent fla­vours a fur­ther twist. My duck breast was dark and heavy, but this just added to its sat­is­fy­ing rich­ness. The accom­pa­ny­ing pota­toes were plain, though this was a wel­come foil to the sweet fla­vours of car­a­mel­ised red cab­bage and honey-roast beetroot.

As good as the savoury dishes were, we were unpre­pared for the extraordin­ary desserts. Babci sernik is a baked ricotta cheese­cake, which tra­di­tion­ally uses mashed potato in its filling, and has a del­ic­ate vanilla fla­vour and a tex­ture sim­il­ar to polenta cake. Apple mazurek was a melt­ingly tender pie, enlivened by poppy seeds and South­ern Com­fort syr­up. But the chocol­ate bomb was the star: intense, gooey chocol­ate com­ple­men­ted by berry com­pote and brandy custard.

Most of the sauces were full of alco­hol, as were we by this stage, hav­ing accom­pan­ied each dish with vari­ous vod­kas and beer chasers. This no doubt con­trib­uted to our bon­homie, but the food, ambi­ence and ser­vice were all superb.



Address: 3 Beach Road, Plimmerton

Phone: 04 233 9939

Cost: Entrées $9–17; mains $28–36

Open: Wed–Thu 5.30pm–10pm, Fri–Sat 10am–11pm, Sun 10am–10pm

Food: Pol­ish

Drink: Żywiec beer $12 (500ml); Żubrówka vodka $8/shot[/warning]




June Café

As chains move into Cuba Street, some of the most inter­est­ing cafés are pop­ping up on the side streets. While Raglan Roast might be called a ‘chain’ (it has a hand­ful of beachy loc­a­tions, start­ing with the eponym­ous town), it fits right into the gritty Abel Smith Street con­text. It looks like a hole in the wall, but leads through to an airy space: part café, part gal­lery, part ware­house, with surf­boards propped against the walls to con­vey the laid-back Raglan vibe. Food is lim­ited to muffins and cook­ies, but the cof­fee is good and starts at $2.50.

Address: 40 Abel Smith Street, Te Aro

Phone: 04 801 6558

Open: Mon–Fri 7am–5pm, Sat–Sun 8am–5pm


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