This slick refit, in the space that was once Quay St Cafe, caught my eye when I was at the Britomart markets. Warm wood panelling, Scandi-style light wood furniture, exposed concrete ceilings and nature-themed artwork have transformed it into a very modern, cosy and welcoming space that begs you to linger. Rumour has it they're planning to add outdoor seating, too, which will no doubt make it popular with the Les Mills crowd down the road for post-workout catch-ups.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL
Brainchild of the founder of nearby hotspots Mexico and Beirut, Oaken is no slouch on the food side. A menu laden with detailed, extensively thought-out items made for difficult decisions. I settled for the minced mushrooms on toast, which were rich and flavourful atop a generous slice of chewy sourdough, nicely complemented by soft-boiled eggs and pickled onions. My husband's cold-smoked salmon was brimming with delicate flavours and floral notes, while shaved raw cauliflower added texture and freshness. Dishes we saw floating past to other tables - such as the bacon and egg toasted jaffle - mean a second visit is sure to come sooner rather than later.
Oaken bills itself as an "espresso free-house", offering a choice between Eighthirty, Peoples and Allpress coffee. Our Eighthirty trim flat whites were well-made and hit the spot. Freshly squeezed juices were just that, my nashi pear and ginger went down especially well. Visit later in the day for a wine list and another interesting and innovative menu.
Service was seamless, with everything arriving in good time. Oaken's staff are helpful and knowledgeable, an absolute must with a menu as complex as theirs. Pink peppercorns and Himalayan sea salt, in small stoneware dishes, were natural partners to the artisanal offerings; sparkling water, too, was a nice touch. We were pleasantly surprised by our very reasonable bill, and I'd happily predict Oaken will become a regular fixture in competitive Britomart.