Greg Bruce scours the city for its best sausage rolls. What he finds may shock you - but probably not.
The nice young man at Bestie told me he hadn't seen anyone selling sausage rolls in a while, but suggested I try Fort Greene, just down the road. When I asked the nice young woman there, she laughed at me. At Chuffed, on High St, the nice young woman said: "We haven't had sausage rolls in a very long time." There were none at Mojo either, and none at Melba. By the time I finally found one ($6.90), at Coffee Club, wrapped depressingly in tinfoil, I had walked clear from K Rd to the bottom of Queen St.
It's not going too far to say I was shocked by the decline of the sausage roll, once the proud anchor of every eating establishment in the country. Over the coming days and weeks I searched the city for sausage rolls. It was not easy - my requests to cafe staff were frequently met with uncomfortable laughter - but what I found is that the sausage roll is still alive, and sometimes edible.
80 Lunn Ave, Mt Wellington
Lamb and Harissa, $7.49
The pork was lightly spiced, and not unpleasant, featuring both space and light. The lamb was thick, dark, dense and moisture-free, like eating a dried kitchen sponge.
1/5 Graham St
For $10, I expected, as a baseline, to have my life changed, which it was: for the worse. The lamb presented with an intense odour, which made me feel nauseous, so I quit halfway through, but the taste stayed with me for hours, days even, taking up residency in my long-term memory, from where I am retrieving it now, in spite of myself. I would describe the pork as "better".
212 Jervois Rd
I wanted to go to Little & Friday Ponsonby but it was closed, so I set off down Ponsonby Rd looking for a worthy alternative. I had gone clean through Three Lamps and a kilometre or so down Jervois Rd before I happened upon this place I had never heard of and couldn't pronounce. The pastry was crispy, flaky and liquid, and the meat was moist. The whole feeling was one of wetness. The sausage was tasty, clean and honest. It was hot. It was not too long. I'd almost certainly come back here if I was in the area and Little & Friday was closed.
9 Princes St
Auckland's best duck sausage roll is only a sausage roll in the sense that it's sausage wrapped in pastry. It's served with roasted duck breast, kohlrabi and muscat grapes, unnecessarily. Onslow - Auckland's best new restaurant - doesn't do takeaways, so it might be embarrassing to walk in and ask for a couple of duck sausage rolls to go, but maybe embarrassment is the price of delight.
21 Halsey St
As I was taking my last couple of bites of the sausage roll, I realised I had paid it no attention whatsoever. That might have been my fault, or it might have been the sausage roll's.
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119 Main Highway, Ellerslie
This is the city's best value sausage roll. It was enormous and the meat was dank af. It was so creamy, I wondered if it was meat at all. It was rich and flavourful without being annoying. When I'd finished, I felt like I should go back and give them at least another $2-$2.50, but I didn't because it wasn't my money, and even if it had been, I'm notoriously tight.
Bite Cafe, Smith & Caughey's Queen St
I've always felt there's something special about getting a sausage roll from a department store cafeteria, which is probably nostalgia for when Mum used to take me to the mezzanine cafeteria at Farmers Pakuranga. I had that feeling again a few weeks ago, when I took my own kids to the cafe at Smith & Caughey's Queen St, even though the product was insipid, pale, light and lacking any sense of identity. There was a big gap between the pastry and meat and, when I looked through it, I could see my kids demanding stuff and making a horrible mess and I yearned to be back at Farmers Pakuranga, where I'd had all the demands and none of the responsibilities.
Little Bread & Butter
Shop 7, Ponsonby Central
I wanted to go to Little & Friday Ponsonby, but it was closed. The meat had a pleasant lightness and airiness, as if whipped. It was well-spiced and had some yellowish-looking bits inside it. It was moist, it was enormous, and it had a massive meat-to-pastry ratio. I quite liked it.
Teed St Larder
7 Teed St, Newmarket
I wanted to go to Little & Friday Ponsonby, but it had sold out, so I got an Uber to Little and Friday Newmarket, but it had also sold out, so I went to Teed Street Larder, where they heated my sausage roll in the microwave. It came out soggy and with a nauseating smell. It was thick, fat, dense and porky. The pastry was sad and cloying. At one point, about three-quarters of the way through, I had the thought, "The flavour's actually quite complex and interesting!" but, in retrospect, that was probably my imagination.
Little & Friday Ponsonby
234 Ponsonby Rd
For $10, I expected, as a baseline, to have my life changed, which it was. This is the city's best sausage roll. The pastry was pure butter and flake, and inside was an abundance of joy: stalks and leaves and sausage of remarkable depth and meaning. Even the aftertaste was a delight: I could easily have spent forever licking greedily at the film of tasty grease on the roof of my mouth. Far from being too much, $10 seemed hardly enough, because I wasn't paying.