Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The View from the High Chair - Servo, Te Atatu

I had a business meeting this morning at The Servo on Te Atatu Peninsula. It's a handy location just off the North Western Motorway and there was plenty of parking close by.

As is the life of the Mumpreneur, most meetings are attended with the kids in tow and locations have to be chosen with them in mind as well. We were greeted warmly and I admired the fresh looking window counter food (and amazing looking cakes) while browsing a good, if unsurprising menu. The Eggs Benedict I decided on were more than passable (they offer smoked salmon or bacon varieties) and the coffee arrived quickly. A double marshmellow side on the Fluffies is always well received by the smallest members of our table. (Fluffy price $1.50)

Overall the View from the High Chair was a good one: Decent toy box and a small play pen (yay a cage!) as well as a kid friendly couch area. Watch the Fluffy temperatures though, they needed cooling down a bit before the kids could be let loose at them.

Rating: 3 chocolate fish (out of 5)

Monday, July 27, 2009

ME Coffee Boutique, Auckland Central

A few months ago, I began work in Auckland's CBD, and on the face of it, was condemned to dubious, unexciting coffee courtesy of the many Allpress-powered coffee outlets and the ubiquitous Starbucks littering the area. Exhaustive research began, and a process sadly more hit than miss ensued, in the search for a decent daily coffee.

One such hit is ME (is it pronounced 'me'? 'Em Eee'? 'Meh'? I have no idea). It's nestled snugly in between some juice bar or other and the Chifley Suites, near the corner of Albert Street and Wyndham Street, an otherwise unassuming part of Auckland's commercial centre. In all honesty I'm loath to give you this information as the place is tiny and the barista appears to be one extraordinarily talented chap who despite his skill only has so much capacity, so the more people I tell, the longer I'll have to wait for my morning cup.

This, readers, is altruism at work.

As for the brew itself, it's an excellent everyday roast, rich and full-flavoured, delicately aromatic, with a mild caffeine punch but by no means aggressively turbocharged. The shot is a smooth one, with well-emulsified oils and no hint of over-extraction, and several weeks of patronage can report that it's metronomic in consistency. A scrupulous level of care is taken with every cup.

One final point, a nice touch which may or may not be intentional. A cube of Whittaker's dark chocolate is carefully placed atop each takeaway plastic lid. Once lifted off and eaten, it leaves behind a smudge of melted chocolate which, with each sip, delivers a tantalising waft of cocoa. Now that's how you give a touch of luxury to someone's day. Surprise, and yes, delight.

ME Coffee Boutique,
72 Albert Street
Auckland 1010

+64 (0) 9 379 7505

Supreme Brazil Coffee

I have been a regular at Savour & Devour now for 5 years. Last week I encountered something that surprised me and it wasn't pleasant. They had changed their coffee! Well I can hear you now saying 'He has too much time on his hands to recognise a change in coffee' but to me it is fundamental to a good cafe.
Why change something that isn't broken as their previous coffee, Supreme Fairtrade Organic, was just the ticket.
I would like to add that after my boycott and complaints they are back with their original and so am I!

Ground Culinary Centre, Lyttleton

We discovered Ground Culinary Centre on a visit to Christchurch a couple of months ago and I have just been back for our second visit. Ground is a special place not only because of the fine coffee and food that is served there, but also for the range of gourmet foods and organic produce.

The interior of Ground is very reminiscent of an old shop, with character all around and a charming atmosphere. Besides the Deli and Coffee counters, there is a good range of wine on sale, breads and produce. The staff are friendly and care about what they are doing and the food they are serving.

We were very impressed once again with the service we received when a staff member sought us out and asked us what we wanted, getting our order underway and allowing us to skip the queue of people waiting to pay. It has been a long day and so we both decided to try the Steak and Mushroom Pie with salad and have a coffee. The pie was seriously good, packed full of meat and mushrooms it was full on both flavour and contents. The salad was a great roast vegetable salad comprising pumpkin, kumara, potato and lettuce leaf with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. No complaints with the food whatsoever.

The coffee is locally roasted by the Lyttleton Coffee Company and is a blend of organic and fair trade coffee beans. It is good, strong and rich in flavour. It stood up well in my flat white and also was perfect in my partners long black. The guys roasting and blending this stuff are on the money.

So on my second visit to Ground, my initial impressions were confirmed. This is a stylish place that does great food and coffee with a heart. Make sure you visit on your next trip to Christchurch.