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Beach House and Kiosk

Beach House and Kiosk

The Beach House and Kiosk (410 The Esplanade, Island Bay)

Formerly known as The Bach, this sea-side spot has beautiful views of the South Coast, which even stretch as far as the South Island on a good day. A great stop off before or after visiting the Red Rocks, The Beach House and Kiosk has a very reasonably priced menu and a range of seating both indoors and out. Don’t fear the cold if you sit outside; there’s a cute little basket full of colourful picnic blankets that make the chill even more cozy. There is a delicious array of baked goods on the counter-top, which is easy to miss until you are paying. The service was pretty good, even though it was really busy they accommodated our time constraints and never let us feel as though we had been forgotten about, despite there being a bunch of other tables to be looked after also. Although it’s not one of the South Coast stops I would detour specifically for (being the massive fan of The Botanist and Maranui that I am), I wouldn’t hesitate to go here either side of Red Rocks.

Ekor Bookshop & Cafe

Ekor Bookshop & Cafe

Ekor Bookshop & Cafe (17b College Street)

What a discovery. Tucked away a few metres along from Cafe L’affare (on the same street as Moore Wilsons) the Ekor Bookshop & Cafe is an absolute gem, just waiting to be found. It caught our eye as we were walking out to Newtown recently, and at our first opportunity we found ourselves on its doorstep, keen for coffee and an explore.

The place is so cute. The menu is incredibly simple (bagels, scones and cakes essentially) but nothing is overpriced and everything is done perfectly. They don’t make their own food there, rather it is all supplied by local cafes and caterers (for example Leeds Street Bakery, French Cancan and of course, People’s Coffee). We sampled the French Cancan gluten-free chocolate cake, and it just set out day alight from 8am. The staff are super friendly and helpful, and I haven’t even started on the bookshop.

It is absolutely a bookshop where you could just browse the afternoon away; there are so many gifts and quirky books that there is certainly something for everyone. It’s a new found delight, and I can’t wait to go back!

Plum Cafe

Plum Cafe

Plum Cafe (103 Cuba Street)

One of the few cafes and restaurants on Cuba Street that doesn’t specialise in a particular cuisine, rather it has a focus on producing classic Western food with a side of class. It has a decadent cabinet, a yummy menu, and a kitchen that rivals the size of your broom closet (but that doesn’t matter, because you don’t go in there!).

There seems to be no shortage of foreign wait-staff, which always makes for a fun time. Our Canadian waitress was super lovely, and fussed over us as a mother duckling would with her chicks. There is something for everyone on the menu – there is a mixture of your stock-standard burgers, salads and typical brunch items as well as some more exciting items if you are feeling adventurous.

Always a safe option, but nothing super exciting about it. A solid 4 stars, I reckon.

Fratelli

Fratelli

Fratelli (15 Blair Street)

This place caught my attention during Wellington On a Plate 2016. It received some absolutely glowing reviews, and I was baffled because I live just down the road and could have sworn that I had never noticed this place. I made it my mission to go, and together with a group of us we headed along to Fratelli one night for the $4o feast. This entails a set menu where you get to pick an option for entree, main and dessert. The feast only runs on a Monday and Tuesday night, and it’s absolutely essential that you book. We went on a Tuesday night, and were astonished at how full the place was, even once it got as late as 9pm (sometimes I think I forget that I now live in a big city, where things stay open past dark!).

For an entree we ordered a mixture of garlic and herb bread, margarita pizza and olives. From the get-go we knew we were in for an absolute treat. The base to the pizza and the bread was so thin, light and fluffy that it made me extremely excited for what was to come. As I no longer eat beef, I was especially over-joyed to see that the pappardelle dish was made with pork shoulder (rather than the traditional beef ragu). In with a grin, the portion of pork shoulder was absolutely perfect – leaving me full, but still with room for dessert. We couldn’t say no to the tiramisu, but we also ordered a raspberry vinaigrette sorbet to accompany it, and both were spectacular. The tiramisu was right up there with one of the best I have ever had – I think the reason being that it was more focused on the chocolate, rather than the cream.

Overall it was a fantastic night. I think when I go back, I would probably opt to do the feast again because it felt like such good value – but there are also so many other delicious items on the menu. Go Fratelli!

The Riddiford Bar & Bistro

The Riddiford Bar & Bistro

The Riddiford Bar & Bistro (16 Riddiford Street, Newtown)

With a prime location of across the road from the hospital, business here should be booming. Unfortunately, I think The Riddiford probably needs a bit of a revamp before this happens. It took me a while to visit here because I’d heard extremely mixed things about it, but when I did I was pleasantly surprised.

We came here for lunch (so I still can’t really review the dinner options I’m afraid) and I was pleased to see that the place was relatively busy. It is essentially two rooms joined together to form the cafe, but with a big wide open door so that it basically feels like one. It’s quite cramped, but that works positively for the vibe.

The coffee beans are those of Mojo, so I was immediately looking forward to my coffee arriving. The menu itself was rather plain; I wasn’t sure whether to keep it simple or to mix it up. I opted nervously for a chicken quasedilla with fries, and I kid you not, it was absolutely delicious. I had such a good meal here that I wouldn’t hesitate in coming back to order the exact same thing again. I also tried the open chicken sandwich, which was also pretty nice, but not as delicious as mine.

Overall this place exceeded my rather low expectations, and while the overall experience was good, The Riddiford probably needs to up its game if it wants to stay in competition with the other fantastic options Newtown has to offer.

House Cafe

House Cafe

House Cafe (corner of Crosses Road and Napier Road)

Avoiding some of the more popular spots on a long weekend in the Bay, Dad suggested that we head along to House Cafe which is tucked away on the corner of Crosses Road and Napier Road. It’s not that obvious a spot; one of those places that would be entirely easy to miss. I was a teeny bit skeptical after I saw the prices of the menu – it was so ridiculously cheap; for example, $14.50 for a chicken burger and chips, and $9.50 for their world-famous slow-cooked mince on toast. There is seating both inside and outside, and they’re not afraid to pump the heater in these cold winter months. The food came out and everything was well above standard. The coffee was also good and the staff friendly. Solid effort.

Mince on toast, $9.50
Corn fritters with bacon and sweet chilli sauce

 

The Bach

The Bach

The Bach (108 Maunganui Road)

A super beachy looking place in the hub of the Mount township; I’ve always been attracted to it purely by its interior decor. It’s spacious, with large tables, menus on the wall and a cabinet + low counter across from which you order. The coffee is tasty, the brownie is divine and the french fries with aioli and ketchup are to die for. The brunch options all sound great; I have heard good things about the eggs. When we were there we logged into the wifi on my computer – it was a slightly annoying process whereby you needed an access code and were limited to a certain amount of data per voucher – but it ended up sounding more annoying that it actually was because it was all very easy. The staff are lovely; the cafe closed at three, but because we were doing admin with our laptops, they told us they were happy for us to keep working if we didn’t mind them cleaning up around us. Very accommodating, I will surely be back!

 

The Rabbit Hole

The Rabbit Hole

The Rabbit Hole (217 Maunganui Road)

Only recently opened, my mum essentially dragged me there to try the ‘cool-looking place’ with the ‘funky interior’. I have to admit, the rabbit (?) skins draped over the back of the chairs made for a pretty interesting sight. I couldn’t help but being mildly impressed by this sunny court-yard that was situated in between the restaurant and the cafe – both of which had different menus and different staff. It was slightly confusing, as we weren’t sure where to order from but someone kindly explained to us that, if you want to eat at the cafe you can sit anywhere, but you have to order up at the cafe till, and if you want to eat from the restaurant’s menu, you need to sit at the restaurant and you will receive table service.

On this occasion we chose to visit the cafe. The staff were all extremely well trained, perhaps not the most friendly at times but they certainly knew what they were doing. Once we had made our order, the coffee came out relatively quickly – and while it wasn’t the best coffee I’d ever had (turns out I’ve become a bit of a coffee snob) I would certainly order the same again, as it was entirely drinkable. The food was a step up; the servings were massive. I had an omelette, and I think it would be a stretch to say that I finished 3/4 of it! It was extremely tasty, I wish it was more possible to doggy-bag eggs! (Thankfully I had my hungry-hungry boyfriend with me, so nothing went to waste!). The French Toast was also delightful; a healthy portion of maple syrup, but conveniently it had been put into a jug so it wasn’t already soaking through the bread. I would definitely return for the food alone, and would be keen to try the restaurant at some point (they say good things about the burger and steak!).

Café Polo

Café Polo

Café Polo (82 – 84 Rotherham Terrace, Miramar)

All I knew of Café Polo was that it was supposed to have great bacon and eggs. A visit to Weta Workshop (which is incredible by the way) provided the perfect excuse to eat out this way, and I am so glad we did. I had to order the eggs based on the recommendations I’d had, but we also got the Café Polo sandwich with fries and aioli – it was enormous. Two people could share that for sure.

Café Polo had a massive menu, and a beautiful cabinet full of freshly baked sweets, with a loaf of their delicious homemade sour-dough on the top. It is also fully licensed, and they had paired a number of their meals with certain drinks from their menu (an under-appreciated useful gesture I think!). The café is way bigger than it looks from the outside as well.

The orange juice I ordered was bang on beautiful, but I wasn’t so sure about the coffee… I might need to taste it again before I confirm that I thought it tasted rather like grinds. All in all, it was a pretty good experience. The scrambled eggs were delicious and so was the house made 5 grain toast. Five stars to the garlic aioli (that came with the fries) also!

Bay Espresso

Bay Espresso

Bay Espresso (19 Middle Road)

Bay Espresso is basically an HB institution. With locations not just in Havelock, but also on Karamu Road and Omahu Road, you are never that far away from a cafe. With its very own roastery (I’ve seen various cafes nationwide stocking Bay Espresso coffee) the coffee is extremely delicious, and I always make sure to stop in at its coffee cart when I’m at the farmers’ market. The menus are the same across all three stores, with maybe slight variances daily. The food is pretty good; I personally find it a little expensive for what you get, but not enough to stop me going there. Corn fritters are my go-to, but my Dad rates the garlic mushrooms extremely high. The shop in Havelock is pretty small, so we usually sit on one of the outside tables. Definitely a reliable place food a good meal, and good coffee when you are in and around the Bay.