Part 2 of our Christmas holidays – a bit late I know but at least posted while summer is still with us haha.
So after Christmas in Auckland, New Years in the Bay of Islands and a side trip to glorious Waiheke Island we headed off to Whangamata in early January for 2 weeks of R&R – we thought it would be rest and recreation but it had a fair dose of rock n roll!
For the third year in a row we rented a gorgeous European style villa right on the beach. Got there on the Saturday and by Sunday had the call from Rebecca (#1 daughter) saying that as she and Dan (partner) were working that week could we look after the new puppy. “Hadn’t you thought of that when you decided to ‘rescue’ the puppy from the SPCA”? How old – 12 weeks, toilet trained – well sort of. Greaaaat! So off I go to meet Dan half way back to Auckland to pick up the gorgeous Sybil!! The things we do!
New balls and jandals required thank you!
Anyway enough of the domestics. Here’s the pick of the cafes and eating places in the area:
We are always on the hunt for great coffee and as Supreme is our favourite brew (being regulars at Good One cafe in Ponsonby!!!) were delighted to find Barside Espresso. The coffee travels well and with friendly baristas it’s the perfect spot to get your (double) shot. Best in Whanga.
We always make a beeline for El Barrio as it does great coffee (Atomic) and a wide ranging menu. We go most days. First up we were there in the afternoon and had the eggs bene, Angus beef burger, Caesar salad and the chicken nibbles & curly fries for the 4 year old. All were pronounced excellent. I had the burger and it was one of the better ones. Full marks to owner Charles for providing genuine chicken drumsticks on the kids menu rather than those awful “nuggets” most places serve.
Next time Deb & I went in for coffee late morning and spied the toasties in the food cabinet so had the ham, cheese & pineapple and the meat lovers. Both were tasty and generously stacked.
They have a Mexican influenced tapas range which we hadn’t tried before. In chatting to the very affable owner Charles he suggested we tried the fish (snapper) soft shelf taco w fresh salsa & hot sauce. It was very yummy.
The only night the café is open is Fridays so off we went on our last night for dinner with Al & Juls (last heard of in my Ostro review haha) and Juls’ brother Tom for an evening of sampling from the wonderful tapas menu – more fish tacos plus mussel fritters, scallops, fish sliders and calamari – all enhanced with a Mexican edge. Loved the lot.
El Barrio is the place to go to in Whangamata for great coffee and tasty food. It has two very pleasant outdoor eating areas that are well shaded and a cosy inside area that is always bustling. Staff are friendly and attentive. All in all Charles & Sandie do a fantastic job in creating a very pleasant cafe experience.
The news that the Hip Group (Richmond Road Café, Ortolana + +) had opened in Waihi enticed us to make the trip from Whangamata to Waihi for lunch (an easy 40 minute drive).
Hip have done an excellent job in creating a very pleasant cafe space with an easy flow indoor/outdoor area. Being regulars at Hip establishments in Auckland we were keen to try their newest offering.
Scored a lovely table on the deck – essential given we had Sybie with us. And pleasingly no-one had a problem with the bundle of joy’s presence. The brunch/lunch menu is typically eclectic with everything from eggs bene to chopped liver to trevally escabeche (yes it is the correct spelling – a typical Mediterranean cuisine which refers to a dish of either poached or fried fish) on the breakfast side. More lunchy was the chicken cotoletta (an Italian word for veal breaded cutlet), flat iron steak and fish & chips. Amongst the 4 of us 2 had the fish & chips, one the market fish (Deb of course) and the 4 year old had the kids’ fish n chips.
The battered fish was trevally which I don’t recall ever having had – we used to use trevally for bait! – and which I faced with some trepidation. I need not have been concerned. It was very nice as were the chips and the little green salad complemented the dish nicely. The market fish was not so well received with Deb declaring it lacking in taste – the only real blemish on what proved to be an enjoyable experience.
Well actually there was one other small issue! The maître d’ had 4 attempts at providing us with the bill and eventually it was “sorted” by deduction!! Put it down to teething problems perhaps.
Service was attentive, the outdoor setting pleasant and there was a real bonus in having the ice-creamier on site for pudding as the 4 year old called it.
I know – gross
The playground is great for the littlies and the retro style accommodation block offers rooms at a very reasonable $120 per night.
All in all it was well worth the trip from Whangamata and Hip have certainly lifted the bar in this part of the Coromandel.
So we headed back to Auckland very reluctantly after 2 glorious weeks in Whangamata. Couldn’t wait really to get back to the joys of living in Ponsonby!!