118 Ponsonby Road
(09) 378 7979
5pm - late
Wednesday - Saturday
7am - 2.30pm, 5pm - late
7am - 2.30pm
The two owners of Orphans Kitchen, Josh Helm and head chef Tom Hishon, met in London. They were far from their homes and families, so every winter they put on an Orphans’ Christmas with their friends. Given that both were food-lovers and Tom a chef, the food was always amazing, and it was at one of these Christmas dinners that they came up with the idea for Orphans Kitchen. They wanted to open an eatery that was so unpretentious and welcoming you could walk in and immediately feel at home. They wanted it to be affordable, and both coming from wine backgrounds, they wanted a great wine list.
Years later, their dream is a reality. Orphans Kitchen is a casual space with a simple interior that feels a little like a dining hall. Josh and Tom made the raw wooden tables themselves and suspended bare bulbs in vintage jars of varying sizes throughout the space. They painted the timber walls the colours of a pale pastel rainbow.
The menu itself is short and surprising, Tom is a fine-dining chef who is passionate about creating affordable dishes with simple ingredients. He uses vegetables that remind me of unappetising childhood meals (sorry Mum and Dad), like swedes and cauliflower, and more unusual types and cuts of meat like wild boar, ox cheek and tuna belly in dishes that are flavourful and comforting – just as food in an orphans’ kitchen should be.
From Wednesday to Sunday, Orphans is also open for breakfast, and the menu in the morning is just as surprising as the menu at night. There’s roasted avocado with bacon, feijoa and vine tomatoes or a very tart black rice pudding with tamarillo, blood orange, and banana that’s cut through with a creamy (yet dairy free) passionfruit coghurt. There are homemade crumpets with burnt butter and honey, which are hugely popular, for good reason. It’s certainly not your average brunch menu, it’s an adventure in flavour combinations and textures, which is just what we’ve come to expect from this place. Pair these dishes with a cold-pressed juice or smooth single origin filter coffee from Coffee Supreme. It all feels very good for you, in more ways than one.
Everything is all very low key and unassuming at Orphans Kitchen; surprising, unfussy food, great wines, and a super casual environment all make for a great addition to the neighbourhood. Having dinner here will feel like sitting down at a friend’s table, and that’s exactly the way it’s intended to be.