There was a mistake with my meal on my flight over to Auckland, so I was vigilant about eating well on my way out again. Lucky for me, Little Bird Unbakery was a short walk from my accommodation and came recommended by @ryanpoet.
It's in an unexpected location - on the very busy New North Road, surrounded by light industrial businesses, with very few pedestrians passing. But inside it's unmistakably a trendy cafe, with a large timber communal table, drop lights, and a wall of twee shelves stocked with take-home teas and treats.
The main menu and display cabinet are at the counter. The food is all raw gluten-free and mostly vegan (keep an eye out for honey). The current savoury rotation included sprouted bread, 'pizza' and a couple of salads, but it's difficult to drag your eyes from the sweets on show - towering cheesecakes, cute tartlets, and slices recalling childhood favourites.
I ordered three items to take away to the airport food court. As I waited for my garden salad (NZ$15 ~ AU$13.60) to arrive, I wondered if I should have ordered the more varied Bird Bowl. These misgivings evaporated the moment that I opened the lid in the departure lounge. I must've spent around 50 minutes methodically working my way through the cucumber ribbons, sweet cherry tomatoes, strawberries, basil, parsley and avocado, dotted with Little Bird's umami-packed cashew cheese and lightly dressed in a vinaigrette. I paused only to pick out the shallots (I really can't handle raw onion), as pleased with my last mouthful as I was with my first. This is the salad to (I hope!) inspire an entire summer of salads.
Also - berries and cherry tomatoes together again! I like Auckland's style and I'm totally copying it.
Though the cheesecakes and tarts looked most impressive, I decided that some slice might be sturdier in transit. The berry crumble (NZ$5 ~ AU$4.50) was equal to its traditional counterpart, with a caramelised dessicated coconut top and jammy filling. The mint slice (NZ$6 ~ AU$5.40) was also lovely, with occasional cocoa nib crunches and a gentle peppermint tone, but no doppelganger for an Arnotts biccie.
Little Bird demonstrated the best of raw eating and had me in good shape for the trip home to Melbourne. I only wish I'd tried my luck at getting some of their 'cheese' through Customs.
This Little Bird Unbakery has already received a lot of blog love, on An Auckland Vegan, Street Corner, What's yummy in Auckland..., the baking of..., Word on the Wheat, Toast, MEL to NYC, Eat Well Travel Often and Maddy Budd's Blog; the Ponsonby cafe also has fans at My Gap Year, What's yummy in Auckland..., The Oyster Weekend and The Yoghurt Pot.
Little Bird Unbakery
385 New North Rd, Kingsland (also in Ponsonby)
+64 09 550 7377
savoury NZ$14-16 ~ AU$12.70-14.50, sweet NZ$5-9 ~ AU$4.50-8.20
Accessibility: The Unbakery has a flat entry but is quite crowded inside. I ordered and paid at a low-ish counter and my food was brought out to me.