Doors Open for Summer of Fire, Food and Cocktails

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 that has housed many a restaurant, including Rocco and MooChowChow.

The Sahrawats, who own and operate restaurants Cassia and Sid at The French Café, had been discussing a bar concept for some time when Sid heard the Ponsonby site was available. Following an extensive refit of the premises, the couple’s third establishment will open for dinner on Wednesday, November 2.

KOL is a bar and eatery, serving 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 fire, using the best New Zealand produce with an Indian influence.

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. 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.

While the menu has a strong Indian influence, Sid, Vicky, and the team have drawn on other cuisines to create some unique dishes.

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 bite to eat. We hope everyone enjoys the concept and we can’t wait to open the doors to KOL in Ponsonby.”