Pub spy: The Golden Dawn, Ponsonby

By Don Kavanagh

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Address: 134 Ponsonby Rd (corner of Richmond Rd)
Phone: (09) 376 9929

Outside bar at Golden Dawn, Ponsonby. Photo / Richard Robinson
Outside bar at Golden Dawn, Ponsonby. Photo / Richard Robinson

It says it is situated "at the unholy crossroads of Ponsonby and Richmond Rd" and takes pains to distance itself from the Greek neo-Nazi party of the same name. This should give you some idea of what The Golden Dawn is all about - quirky, unconventional and a little bit mad.

Which also, handily enough, describes the decor that brilliantly manages to avoid being artfully "kooky". It's laid-back, a bit funky, a bit odd and entirely comfortable.

The service was good too, plenty of interest and quick to react, so I was beginning to think that there was a nasty surprise coming. I certainly got a shock when I checked out the drinks selection.

It is fantastic. The wine list alone deserves a few pages of description, from how it is divided into wine types - racy white, juicy white, rugged red and so on - to the wines on the list. Someone has put real thought into it and it deserves highlighting, because the number of bars who simply let their beer supplier select their wine list as well is disgraceful.

Anyway, there is something on the wine list for everyone, from vinous virgins to unrepentant wine snobs and there is a strong bias towards classy French imports as well as decent Spanish numbers, some cracking Italians and - heavens above - real sherry.

The beers will please many as well, with Hallertau well represented and a nice mix of the crafty and the mainstream.

The cocktails also deserve a special mention, from the occasional sly dig to be found among the descriptions to the actual cocktails themselves. I and my faithful pint commando had a couple of stunners, served promptly and with a bit of flair.

The menu is small but well thought out, with a nice range of small plates to choose from.

It's hard to find too much to complain about at The Golden Dawn, even though I've heard some snide references to it.

So to hell with the begrudgers, get up to Ponsonby and find your own golden dawn.


Service: 5
Drink: 5
Menus: 5
Atmosphere: 4
Overall: 5

The Golden Dawn is open Friday-Sunday 3pm-late, Tuesday-Thursday 4pm-late.

- Herald on Sunday

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