New in Town: Vondel Restaurant



Devonport is developing a name for being one of Auckland’s best destinations for bringing family and friends together around the table, and we’re delighted to introduce one of our two latest restaurant owners, Sam Bratton from Vondel.

We ask Sam a few of questions to give you a taste of Vondel.


So who's the guy behind Vondel? Where are you from and what were you doing before opening the restaurant? I grew up in Wellington before going to university in Otago. After finishing I pretty much got a 1 way ticket overseas and lived in Melbourne, Spain, London and Amsterdam - 6 years later and I'm now back home. I was working in various roles within the coffee industry from head barista, consultant, espresso machine engineer and helping a friend open our own place. Most recently I was working for a start up company that invented a small scale coffee roaster that operated from your smart phone.

Why did you choose Devonport to open a restaurant? My father has lived here for years and it is a fantastic place with great locals, a busy tourism industry and feels like the perfect place to try something a little different.

What's the experience you hope your diners have at Vondel? To be comfortable and looked after with a bit of cheek and a laugh thrown in. Great service is paramount but it’s pointless if its robotic and lacking any personality. I also have certain dietary restrictions, which can always be a bit of an annoyance when going out for brunch/dinner with friends - so offering food that caters to meat eaters, vege/vegans and gluten free customers alike was very important.

What's the killer dish that everyone needs to try at Vondel? The tacos are a favourite but I just have to go with the fish of the day. Our new fish supplier, Yellow Brick Road, works with only responsible and sustainable boats who message us as they're on their way in with their catch - so it’s always a bit different and always delivered fresh off the boat. That's one of the things I'm really keen to prioritise; high quality, fresh produce and ingredients that really do the talking in a dish or drink.

Tell us about the name Vondel - where does that come from and what does it mean? My partner and I lived in Amsterdam for a bit, just south of Vondelpark. It’s a huge, beautiful outdoor area in Amsterdam, blanketed in snow during winter, and golden in the summer. It was this little peaceful transition before and after work each day. When I decided to take on (what is now) Vondel, the name was one of the first we came up with, it just felt right - mirroring the type of energy I want to create in the restaurant.

What are some of the quick lessons you had to learn when opening the restaurant? Things don't always go to plan, but that’s ok. Surround yourself with incredible people who help you breathe, and work on a solution together.

What has been the single best thing about opening Vondel in Devonport? THE PEOPLE. Sounds cliché of course, but everyone has been so supportive and encouraging which has been really fun and helpful.

Are there any promotions or events we can look forward to? Yes, we're working on a few things at the moment like supper clubs, set dining experiences with wine/coffee/food pairings...maybe a kitchen takeover or something. It’s exciting because everyone's been so enthused by it all. It's great to go to the kitchen and just say "hey shall we give this a crack?"