Sophie Gilmour is walking towards me with a huge pile of assorted crockery. It’s been a week since Bird on a Wire’s new Ponsonby flagship all-day restaurant and cafe opened and its co-founder is really proud of the veritable shop in her arms; until now, all food at Bird on a Wire was served in recyclable containers. Her enthusiasm is weirdly infectious, and soon I’m gushing over a concrete cutlery holder and its sturdy merits as if it’s her first-born child.
The new store has replaced Toru cafe in Ponsonby Central. The space has been redecorated in the signature rustic Bird on a Wire style and divided into purposeful areas. On the Ponsonby Rd side, a coffee counter that gets the morning sun, which is connected to a main serving area and open kitchen. On the other end, a softly upholstered seating area with plush cushions. It’s this area that’s the biggest departure for Bird on a Wire; this is the first time they’ve offered full table service for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For Gilmour, it’s a walk in the park. Years of experience in Auckland restaurants like Cibo, Moo Chow Chow and The Engine Room – not to mention a mother (Emerald Gilmour) with 20 years of hospitality experience and Mexico/Burger Burger’s Mimi Gilmour for a sister – mean that good table service is second nature. For the rest of her team, it’s been a learning curve, but one that she says has been really easy. “If you hire nice people, who are good at talking to people, the rest is just mechanics.” Mechanics like cutlery holders that don’t tip over easily.
If you’re familiar with the Takapuna store you’ll recognise most of the breakfast dishes at the new spot; there’s “birdseed museli”, banana on toast and chick’ egg ‘n’ cheese, smoothies and juices, in addition to a few new items like hot smoked salmon with caper lemon mayo, avocado and sourdough. In the evenings, the takeaway menu has been reworked into a “feasting menu”. Diners can choose whether to have whole, half or quarter chickens and order sides according to hunger, in addition to signature Bird on a Wire burgers and baguettes. There’s a wine list too – one Gilmour is really proud of – which includes a great “interesting wines from elsewhere” section.