Earlier this year, the growing Burger Burger empire quietly opened a new space in Ponsonby Central, Fish Fish. The menu, designed by Executive Chef Adrian Chilton, celebrates the bounty of the sea, and the seasons, with fresh fish to buy and take home, traditional fish and chips, and weekly burger and taco specials. The reason they were so quiet about this opening was because the best was yet to come – a 100-seater flagship restaurant, combining Fish Fish and Burger Burger, that’s now open in Takapuna’s Fortieth and Hurstmere development.
The fit out of the huge space was a collaboration between owner Mimi Gilmour, Bureaux Architects and NY Art Dept. It’s quite an undertaking, crafting a home for two distinctly different restaurants under the same roof, and they’ve done a beautiful job. The space is divided in two by a bar, with an entirely different look and feel for each restaurant. The roof of the entire space is hand-painted to look like the ocean. The space is big, making it great for large groups and families, and on warmer days there is a big courtyard outside.
Fish Fish is flooded with natural light, the pale wooden furniture combines stylish Scandinavian minimalism with the low key, no fuss feel of a seaside bach. The best seat in the house is the kitchen bar, beside a cabinet filled with the day’s catch. Over a couple of visits, I’ve sampled the ceviche twice – fresh long line kingfish served with shallot, pepper, ginger, coriander and lime – it’s simple, refreshing, and vibrant. The fish tacos are filled with crispy Sawmill beer battered fish with lemon mayo, autumn slaw, herbs, chilli and lime, they’re generous and filled with flavour. Fish Fish is all about signature dishes – tacos, burgers, fish and chips – that are tweaked regularly to keep the menu interesting. There are certain things that stick around forever, though, like chip butties, and ice cream sundaes made with Kohu Rd icecream, and served with your choice of toppings and sauces (think pop rocks or roasted almonds, with choc fudge sauce).
Down the other end of the space at Burger Burger, things get darker and cooler, in keeping with the vibe of the Ponsonby Central and Newmarket restaurants. The furniture is dark wood, and the mural on the ceiling has a shark hidden in its depths. BB burgers are still as epic as they were when they first opened – quality ingredients inside feather-like, lightly toasted buns. They are juicy, messy, and as complex or simple as you want them to be. If you’re not so keen on gluten, you can always go for a bunnace – the same ingredients served in a lettuce wrap. Don’t just eat a burger though, make sure you get the shoestring fries and the charred broccoli too, the sides are just as special as the main event. The dessert menu is the same as Fish Fish, lots of ice cream, banana splits, milkshakes and spiders. BB has been famous for its ice cream sandwiches for a while – Kohu Rd icream between two Little & Friday cookies. Dreamy.
You can still get Lion Red long necks here, but the addition of Fish Fish sees the welcome arrival of a broader drinks offering, including a selection of bottled and canned craft beers from Leigh Sawmill, Garage Project, Liberty Brewing Co. and more. There is a short wine list focused on organic and NZ made wines.
In this space, Burger Burger and Fish Fish unite to create a food playground for kids and adults alike, with quality versions of all your childhood classics, delicious and a little bit nostalgic. It’s so much fun.