Duo is a cafe by day, bistro by night in Birkenhead on Auckland’s North Shore. It’s owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Jordan and Sarah Macdonald, who both bring plenty of prior experience to their neighbourhood venture (for one, Jordan was formerly co-owner-operator of acclaimed inner-city venues Culprit, Little Culprit and Lowbrow).

Since opening in March 2022, Duo has amassed a reputation for high quality brunch and dinner dishes with just enough left-of-centre tweaks to stand out, using topnotch produce from local suppliers. Even if you’re not a North Shore local, a drive over the bridge doesn’t seem like such a big deal when it’s for Duo’s confit Curious Cropper tomatoes on grilled sourdough with buffalo curd and herbs, or the raw fish version which sees the toast topped with market fish tartare and horseradish mayo. You could have pasta for breakfast if you like, with the all-day menu also including dishes such as Cloudy Bay clam linguine, or feast on a Wagyu burger and fries.

Come evening, you might snack on sourdough, white anchovies or chicken liver parfait, and chase with crispy eggplant with 'nduja dressing and buffalo curd, lamb ribs with Sicilian olive gremolata or gnocchi with oyster mushrooms, cavolo nero and parsnip.

To drink, the emphasis is on boutique beers and natural wines, plus a concise cocktail list that includes a Cappelletti Spritz, Yuzu Fizz and White Negroni.

The Macdonalds worked with Kirsty Mitchell of Mitchell Addison architects to create Duo’s soothing and contemporary space. Tables line one wall of the space and there’s a couple out the front, or you can perch on olive-green Martino Gamper stools around the shared table under a mesmerising Rachel Mataira print.

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Updated: August 25th, 2023

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