They’ve taken the reins at the recognisable two-storey villa on the corner of Hepburn Street and Ponsonby Road. Right next to leafy Western Park, it’s been home to various venues in recent times – the most longstanding of which was Moochowchow and Rocco before that. Now Kol (pronounced “coal”) brings the Sahrawats’ long-dreamed-of interpretation of a tandoor bar and eatery to life.
The concept hinges on the practice of cooking over fire and Kol's team wanted to incorporate traditional cooking styles such as the tandoor and the chulha [a traditional Indian stove made of mud or clay] but in a modern style.
Chand designed a renovation of the 50-seat interior to reflect Kol’s fiery concept. The walls, tables and leather bar stools are in earthy and charcoal tones; a dark blue banquette adds a sense of richness. You can look straight into the heat of the kitchen from chef’s table seating.
Head chef Vicky Shah has a near-decade of connection with the Sahrawats, having worked at their previous fine diner Sidart (now sold), plus Cassia and Sid at The French Cafe.
Together with Sid, he creates playful and elevated dishes that showcase New Zealand produce with an Indian spin – with the hope to shake up what you expect Indian cuisine to be.
The menu covers bar snacks and an à la carte selection of small and larger dishes that are all intended to be shared – so you can stop in just for a bite or settle in for a fuller meal.
Expect Sid’s usual inventive flavour combinations, such as Te Matuku oysters from Waiheke Island roasted in ghee and green garlic butter, and a smoky beef tartare with charcoal and khakhra (a thin Gujarati cracker made with legumes, wheat flour and oil).
Inspiration comes from further afield, too – a skewer of quail cafreal (a Portuguese-inflected citrusy, green Goan curry) comes with a Mexican date mole made with onion, miso, chocolate and tamarind.
Prateek Arora has come over from Cassia to look after front of house, and he’s also created a varied drinks menu with a dedicated gin section, several local beers and over 30 New Zealand wines – plus bottles from France, the USA and Spain. There’s also a focus on premium champagne houses, including Louis Roederer, Krug and Dom Perignon.
Bar manager Mangeet Shah is in charge of Kol’s cocktail menu, with original signatures such as the Aamba – a mix of gin, yoghurt, mango and spices that nods to the traditional mango lassi.
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