If you’ve been anywhere near the Ponsonby end of Williamson Avenue in the last few months, you might have noticed a large rose illustration go up on the side of an outwardly nondescript building on Rose Road. It’s the site of Rose Alley, which until this week has been a fairly mysterious venture. Now it’s open to the public as a “co-op food, drink and office space”, housing various hospitality vendors on the ground floor.
It's a passion project from brothers Greg and Malcolm Campbell, who grew up in the Ponsonby and Grey Lynn area. They wanted to add a worthy destination to the neighbourhood with offerings that weren’t necessarily there before – while supporting independent operators who’re passionate about what they do.
While the pared-back, quietly industrial arcade’s spaces are still to be fully leased (another food outlet is due to move in and there are office spaces upstairs), three vendors are up and running: bubble tea kiosk Twentea, woodfired pizzeria Pizza Monkey and Bar Beluga, where you can order cocktails, wine and beer, as well as bar snacks.
Twentea is the creation of Malaysia-born couple Kimkun “KK” Lai and Mila Cheong. Both were previously in different professions but have a deep love of bubble tea from their upbringing and wanted to add their own spin on it. This involves providing plenty of dairy-free options as well as classic milky drinks, and avoiding artificial flavours and concentrates in favour of fresh fruit and infusions.
You might order a durian latte, kopi o (Malaysian black coffee) or ice Milo, or a rose tea made with dairy-free milk. The strawberry latte is made with fresh strawberries, and there’s mango sago, fresh lemon tea, jasmine tea and more. All come served in attractive clear bottles, and you can bulk-order for delivery.
With long-time hospitality experience from venues like Seafarers in Britomart, Paddy Dillon is behind Bar Beluga. It’s a casual bar with a tightly edited, ever-changing offering of playful cocktails, as well as a small wine and beer list. The bar area seats between 40 and 50, and has a courtyard feel with a glass roof and hanging plants.
Dillon wanted to make sure the offering was simple and didn’t take itself too seriously. Right now, you might order a tamarillo Margarita with orange blossom and mezcal; a tamarind Whisky Sour; or a tiki cocktail with spiced rum, demerara rum, falernum (spiced almond syrup), lime and Aperol – finished with a sweet navel orange Raro foam.
Food-wise, there’s a concise menu including charcuterie boards with pickles and Daily Bread sourdough baguette; triangle toasties with fillings like champagne ham and caramelised onion, or corn, Calabrian chilli and cheese; and small plates like roasted baby carrots on ricotta with hot honey drizzle and pistachios.
You’re also welcome to bring a pizza from Pizza Monkey across to the bar area. The pizzeria was created by chef Nikhil Satam, who previously worked at Freeman & Grey nearby, and Mr Murdoch’s on Fort Street. He’s a big pizza fan, and makes his sourdough bases a day ahead for delivery or to be eaten at Rose Alley from the tall bar leaners in his area.
The toppings riff on familiar combinations, with twists like miso cream on the truffle mushroom pizza, or feta and honey on the mānuka ham, charred onion and white sauce pizza. Sides include garlic and herb flatbread, and fries with paprika salt. You can also order pizza by the slice.
Malcolm says they aim to have Rose Alley fully realised by summertime, with outdoor tables spilling onto the street when it’s warm enough – and, potentially, community events such as street parties.
With a collaborative project like this, the beauty is in bringing together everyone’s ideas and watching them blossom.
5 Rose Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland
Weds & Thurs 3pm-10pm
Fri & Sat 3pm-11pm
Mon to Thurs 11am-8pm
Fri & Sat 11am-10pm
Weds to Fri 12pm-12am