Owner-operators sometimes say they’d like their restaurant to feel like an extension of their home. This doesn’t always translate – but at Claudia Long and Ryan Pearce’s new cafe Burnt Butter Diner in Avondale, West Auckland, it does feel like they’ve welcomed you into their personal dining room.
Maybe it’s the shelf of eclectic, thrifted crockery or the fact that they don’t do frothy coffees (there’s Coffee Supreme filter – more on that shortly). The Rosebank Road space is compact and cosy with a high ceiling, textured plaster walls and a warm peach and mustard colour palette. The couple are busy behind the counter and in the kitchen preparing each dish then bringing it out themselves – in the same way a friend would when hosting you for lunch.
Long and Pearce have been Avondale locals for around four years now and have a loyal customer base thanks to their food truck Ol’ Mate – a sunny yellow caravan that’s permanently parked 60 seconds’ walk from Burnt Butter. Ol’ Mate’s beat is mainly takeaway coffees and cabinet food, while at their new spot Pearce cooks a menu of interesting, wholesome breakfast and lunch dishes.
There’s a house-made crumpet with smoked kahawai; a soft-boiled egg, red onion pickle and sumac labneh; and a “not-so-French” toast with apple butter, labneh, pomegranate molasses and candied walnuts. The omelette comes with chorizo and prawns, its savouriness enhanced with sauteed kale, nori and togarashi salt. You can get preserves on toast or buckwheat porridge, a flatbread with Middle Eastern-spiced mince, or a daily protein and salad for lunch.
Drinks-wise, order Supreme’s single-origin filter by the cup for $5 or bottomless for $6, with the extra option to “make it naughty” with a mixture of cow’s milk and sweetened condensed milk. There’s also tea, a couple of juices and a coconut milk hot cocoa.
Long and Pearce are both trained chefs (Long in pastry) and have worked in hospitality for years – overseas in London and Melbourne, and in New Zealand. Both were early core kitchen staff when St Kevins Arcade Lebanese restaurant Gemmayze Street opened, before moving into cafes with daytime hours. Since the birth of their daughter in 2018, Long has been running her popular made-to-order cake business Sweet Cheeks on Instagram, and in November 2020 they started Ol’ Mate with barista Bree Bauer – who still runs it.
As well as being a dine-in venue, Burnt Butter also acts as a prep kitchen for Long’s baking, both sweet and savoury; it's where Ol’ Mate’s cabinet food is prepared as well. To come, says the couple, is a retail shelf of own-branded condiments such as pickles, XO sauce and sambal – and catering for events.
Eventually, the outdoor space out the back might be transformed into a courtyard where they can do pop-ups in the summer.