From the team behind Atelier, Wander and Ambler, find Paname Social in a soaring heritage building on Auckland's Lorne Street.
The building itself was built in 1914 and a huge renovation by architectural design studio Warren and Mahoney expanded it to 2000 square metres of hospitality and office spaces. It's connected to 900 square metres of Queen Street retail frontage and you can see that in its scale when you walk in.
Paname Social’s interior has retained a lot of the attractive texture of the characterful building – exposed brick walls layered with patinaed pastel paint, white exposed rafters, and curve-topped windows behind the bar.
It seats around 100, which is actually a little surprising because it doesn’t look like there is a huge number of seats – but the booth tables down one side of the space can each seat at least eight.
French ’50s streetlights hang above each booth table, and some of the walls are a warm, rusty brown tone textured with a lime plaster wash. The bar is fronted by rows of long, narrow drawers modelled off architects’ drawers. There’s a huge, custom-made wooden table by the front windows that can seat around 12 on low stools, as well as various high and low seats around the place and tables on the footpath outside.
Food-wise, the venue is open as a cafe from 7am every day, and then for dinner Wednesday to Saturday. The menu ranges in its influences; a lot of the team is French, including owners Matt Gossett and Matt Ferragati, so there’s a loose French and European thread. Panama is, after all, a slang word for Paris. There's a sprinkling of North African and Middle Eastern flavours too.
From the all-day brunch menu, order oeufs cocotte (baked eggs) with champagne ham, crème fraîche and gruyere, or the berbere bowl (berbere is an Ethiopian spice blend) with coconut millet, chickpeas, shallots and a bunch of other vegetables. There’s an oyster and champagne bar serving Louis Roederer, Billecart, Ruinart and more.
From 11am until late, the bistro menu includes dishes such as rosemary focaccia with stracciatella and baba ganoush, smoked kahawai croquettes with chorizo romesco, duck liver crème brûlée with caramelised onion and crostini, and a steak with chipotle butter and pomme dauphines (potato and pastry puffs).
The wine list is hefty, offering 36 glass pours that you can also get by the bottle. It spans both natural and conventional wines, mostly sourced from New Zealand or France, with a couple of cameos from Australia and elsewhere in Europe.
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