Address: 653 Manukau Rd, Royal Oak
Phone: (09) 624 1130
Open: 7.30am-4pm weekdays,8am-4pm weekends.
Cost: $64.43 for two adults and two children.


There's been a cafe on this prime site across the road from Cornwall Park for years, but now it has new owners (actually the original owners have returned), it's had a makeover and a quite good new name, which is nicely evocative of its sense of place. There are tables on the footpath out the front, it's good and light inside and there's a little outdoor terrace at the back, with a pretty decent collection of toys for the kids and a good-sized chalkboard on which they (or you) can unleash creatively.


The menu is lengthy but not exactly a raging example of eclecticism — corn and ricotta fritters is about as crazy as it gets. I ordered bacon and eggs ($14.50). The two eggs were nicely poached and, together with a good heave of bacon and toast, represented genuine good value. The smoked salmon bagel ($18.50) came with avocado, tomato, cream cheese, red onion, capers, greens and basil pesto. Again, the portion size was in the customer's favour, with a particularly fantastic quantity of salmon. We ordered a bowl of chips, ostensibly for the kids. They were fine, and strangely came with a small bowl of green pesto. I tried it but it's not a combination I would recommend. It's hard for a brunch place to really excel by serving a predominance of simple dishes and brunch standards but it can avoid disaster and you'd have to say Urban Verge does that.

Urban Verge at 653 Manukau Rd, Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring
Urban Verge at 653 Manukau Rd, Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring


They don't serve lattes in a glass, which would never fly in Ponsonby. Instead, they offered to serve ours in their water glasses, which frankly were too small. We had flat whites instead. I'm aware that this whole thing is in danger of sounding like jafa self-parody but when it comes to coffee in Auckland, you really shouldn't be rocking the boat. There was fantastically friendly and familiar service of the sort that you can imagine will turn local customers into loyal customers. For the more distant visitor, it's unlikely to be enough to convince you to make a trip across town — but if you're on your way to or from Cornwall Park, it's not a bad stopping-off point.