Summer of Fire, Food and Cocktails arrives in Ponsonby

Praneeta Mahajan

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, 28 October 2022

Chand and Sid Sahrawat at Kol (photo supplied)

An Irish proverb says that Laughter is brightest in a place where food is good. All food lovers can now look forward to the brightest laughter at Auckland’s newest culinary addition.

Acclaimed restaurateurs Sid and Chand Sahrawat’s third establishment, KOL, will be opening its doors in Auckland’s Ponsonby in early November, offering the perfect spot for a pre-Christmas catch-up over an impressive drinks list and delicious snacks.

KOL (pronounced ‘coal’ and inspired by the same word) is located in the iconic villa on the corner of Ponsonby Road and Hepburn Street.

KOL is a bar and eatery, that serves innovative cocktails alongside an extensive champagne, wine, and beverage list. That drinks list is complemented by a selection of tandoor-inspired snacks and dishes primarily cooked over a fire, using the best New Zealand produce with an Indian influence.

KOL’s “fire” element and food menu take their inspiration from the Indian Chula. An old form of cooking with firewood over a mud or clay stove, it pays homage to a traditional way of cooking over fire.

Kol- A Feast for the eyes and mouth

An impressive team has been assembled for the new venture. Head chef Vicky Shah joins Sid in the kitchen, bringing with him a deep knowledge of cooking over fire. He has a long history of working in Sahrawat’s kitchens, starting as a young chef at Sidart in 2014 before moving to roles at Cassia, Sid at the French Café and then to Ben Bayly’s Ahi.

Prateek Arora will oversee front-of-house operations for both Cassia and KOL after working in several roles at Cassia over the past eight years. Mr Arora has curated KOL’s extensive drinks list, while Mangesh Shah (Cassia & Sidart) rejoins the Sahrawats as bar manager, having recently been awarded Best Bartender (Sidart) in the 2022 Metro Restaurant of the Year Awards.

The food menu is split into Bites, Small & Larger dishes, and Desserts, catering for those who simply want a snack to complement their drink, as well as those settling in for an afternoon or evening and looking for something more substantial. Many of the dishes are cooked in the wood-fired grill and tandoor and the menu caters to most dietary requirements.

Bites include the Amritsari prawn cigar, named after a city in the north-western Indian state of Punjab; Vindaloo fries aioli; Te Makutu Oysters natural or coal-roasted in ghee and green garlic butter; and crunchy Chickpea and hempseed croquettes.

While the menu has a strong Indian influence, Sid, Vicky, and the team have drawn on other cuisines to create some unique dishes. The Quail cafreal with date mole (with hints of onion, miso, chocolate and tamarind) is just one of the tasty skewers on offer in the Small Dish section alongside the oyster mushrooms with ghost chilli and macadamia and the Grilled cabbage with smoked tomato and hazelnuts.

Other dishes include an impossibly tender Chicken and saffron kebab with burnt onion raita, and Pork Belly with Goan chorizo & unripe mango. Raw dishes include the refreshing Kingfish, carrot kanji and citrus and the smoky Beef tartare with charcoal and khakra (a Gujarati version of tortilla/crispbread, made with flour, spices, ghee, and lentils).

Dry aged Duck, Black garlic and pickles

Larger dishes include the mouth-watering Market fish with brown butter and charred greens, the fish served wrapped up in nasturtium leaves with a beurre blanc sauce, a take on Patrani Macchi, and a Parsi-style steamed fish dish. Also featured, are the Eastherbook duck with black garlic, a delicious Kid goat laccha (flaky paratha flatbread) and a Goat’s cheese, porcini & truffle-stuffed kulcha bread.

Meanwhile, the cocktail list, curated by bar manager Mangesh Shah, promises to be a standout. The impressive selection of cocktails includes The Aamba, (gin, yoghurt, mango, spices) – an innovative take on the traditional mango lassi.

Then there’s the Instagram-worthy The Arils (vodka, pomegranate, verjue, cardamom), decorated with an aromatic, smoky cocktail bubble and The Maroochi Old Fashioned made with macadamia, bourbon and bitters, elevating an old classic to another level.

He has dedicated the same effort and innovation to the non-alcoholic offerings. Traditional mocktails are off the menu, with creative concoctions taking their place instead, such as Zoya’s Lychee Spritzer (Seedlip, house-made Lychee shrub, basil, lime & soda).

Kol Interiors

Prateek Arora, who has already built an impressive drinks list at Cassia, well known for its gin and whiskey offering, has created a similarly spectacular gin menu at KOL, with gins on offer from all around the globe including India, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, and of course, New Zealand.

The champagne list includes Louis Roederer, Krug, and Dom Perignon, while the extensive wine list features vintages from private cellars and boutique vineyards. Several local bottled beers will be on offer, along with two on tap – Asahi and a monthly “Beer of the month”.

The fit-out, designed by Chand Sahrawat, marries the smoky, earthy and raw tones from the food with the interiors, creating a masculine vibe, a mixture of charcoal, smoke, denim blue, gold and earthy textures of rust and concrete. The reception desk mimics an oversized chunk of coal juxtaposed in front of a gold feature wall showcasing the KOL’s logo.

There are plenty of seating options at KOL either at the bar or the kitchen counter, enabling a bird’s eye view of the chefs in action. Banquette seating flanks one side of the space with bar leaners and a communal table completing the indoor offering. There is also outdoor seating on the perfect weather days, on the side veranda and the front porch.

The Sahrawats say they are thrilled to be returning to Ponsonby following the sale of their first restaurant, Sidart, last year.

“We wanted to create a bar and eatery with an emphasis on great drinks paired with a menu where almost everything is cooked over charcoal or fire; a place where you can get great cocktails and food without sitting down for a full meal,” Sid says.

“While the food and cocktail menu is Indian-inspired, you won’t find a curry on the menu. As we did with Cassia, we like changing perceptions around what Indian cuisine is – and can be – and we want to get back to the traditional way of cooking while also championing great New Zealand producers and produce. It might sound indulgent, but we have created the type of place where Chand and I want to go for a drink and a bite to eat. We hope everyone enjoys the concept and we can’t wait to open the doors to KOL in Ponsonby”.

 

The bar and eatery open its doors for dinner on Wednesday, November 2 and bookings are available now via the website.

 

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Hamilton.

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