Coffee & Cafes

Raumati Social Club

By The Luwak
October 2012

A very funky little café.

Previously Lembas Café and now with new owners, The Raumati Social Club has had a revamp. The name conjures up 1950s nostalgia: think Axminster carpet with a twist, deco lighting and a snuggy book corner with blankets. The Raumati Social Club is a very funky little café.

The coffee is good and the extensive day time menu looks great. We came for dinner which is not your typical entrée/mains menu but is based on the shared plate concept. The menu is short, offering starters of olives, bread and dips or a cheese platter. Mains consist of a choice of fish or steak and various side dishes: tempura battered vegetables, roast potatoes and garlic with rosemary, whiskey mustard mash, dukkah cauliflower, spinach with almonds and feta, to name a few.

We started with a lovely platter of breads and dips and a bottle of Whitehaven Marlborough Chardonnay. For mains I chose the fish which was crumbed with macadamia nuts and almonds, served on a bed of rocket and drizzled with a lemon infused oil. My partner (as usual) chose the steak which was served on a cauliflower puree with a mushroom and red wine jus. We also had the roast potatoes and garlic with rosemary. Everything was beautifully cooked and very tasty.

Desserts on offer were a Crème Brulee, Passionfruit Roulade or a slice of cake or lemon tart from the cabinet. We both had the Crème Brulee and were not disappointed. At this point I should note that two of the chefs, Tinks and Hadleigh, are ex Lembas Café so we knew from the start that we were in capable hands.

We had a lovely meal at the RSC but I need to get my head around the shared plate concept. Maybe a chicken plate would round the menu out a bit more. Next time we could share the steak and sample a few more of the side dishes, or maybe go as a group and get to taste everything. Whatever we do, whether it be brunch, lunch or dinner, we will definitely be back!

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The Front Room, Waikanae

 By The Luwak
September 2012
 
 

 

The Front Room

I love going to The Front Room in Waikanae.It has been my favourite restaurant on the coast for a long time, though we do not get there often enough!

With my partners birthday approaching I saw an opportunity and so we were booked in for a Monday night. The Front Room has BYO on Sunday and Monday nights which was rather handy as we had a special bottle of Mission wine that we were saving for a special occasion.

What do I love about the Front Room? Well the décor is pretty smart, the service is good and the food is awesome. We started with some bread with dukkah & Kapiti olive oil. Always good with that first glass of wine, simple yet delicious.

For mains my partner had the steak offering and I chose the duck. I would usually go for the safe chicken option but there was no chicken on the menu which I thought was a bit strange. Regardless the duck was beautiful, flavoursome and moist, whilst the steak was perfectly cooked with a robust jus. We also had a side of fresh green beans with slivered almonds. We both thoroughly enjoyed our mains and were looking forward to dessert.

Unfortunately the dessert menu was a bit limited – only 3 choices and a cheese board – and they were pretty much the same options as the last time we were there – time for a change guys. We went for the Hot chocolate pudding with almond heart & vanilla ice cream and the Affogato served with fruit & nut biscotti & a single shot of amaretto. The desserts themselves were as lovely as usual but something different would have been good.

I still love the Front Room and really must try to get there more often. It’s a great place for brunch too, the French toast looks divine and the coffee is always good. Roll on summer, biking to Waikanae and brunch at the Front Room.

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Fine Dining, Wellington

By The Luwak
Sept 2012
 

The Boulcott St Bistro

We had a few things on in Wellington recently, so thought we’d treat ourselves to a night in a hotel and a good meal out. Wellington has an abundance of fine dining restaurants compared to Kapiti so we were spoilt for choice. After a bit of internet research we decided to go to the Boulcott St Bistro (BSB) with Zibibbo as a backup. The reason for this is that the BSB does not take reservations, however it was a Thursday night so we hoped we’d be ok.

We arrived about 6.30 and there were a few spare tables, but it filled up quickly. The BSB is a very popular place! The service was attentive and the wine list was varied. We ordered a bottle of 2010 Stockbridge Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay, – very nice indeed.

As we had previously been at a wine and nibbles function we passed on the entrees and went straight to the mains. I ordered the Market Fish on a smoked potato puree with glazed beets and spinach, my partner had the Fillet Béarnaise with fries and red wine jus. Our mains were served with complimentary freshly baked bread and butter. Both mains were absolutely delicious though the portions were a bit on the small side. Luckily we had also ordered a side of glazed carrots and parsnips but we were still hungry. We asked for more bread and avidly perused the dessert menu. There was to be no sharing of desserts this time and we ordered a Crème Brulee with poached seasonal fruit, and a Chocolate Tart with hazelnut crust and malted chocolate ice cream. Again both were delicious but the portions were small … “spare it” was the first thought that sprang to mind. The Crème Brulee was perfect but the poached fruit was half a small mandarin and some watery mandarin juice it had been poached in. The Chocolate Tart was a sliver.

All in all we had a lovely meal but at nearly $40 for a main (and you still need to order sides) it’s quite pricey. I am not at all a big eater but was glad that I’d consumed some sushi and other nibbles beforehand.

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 Pub Grub Plus

 By The Luwak
July 2012
 

Monteith`s Kapiti Junction

I’m not a big fan of “pub grub” but we have the new Entertainment book so we thought we’d give Monteith`s a try.

We had been here a few years ago for our work Christmas party and the food was surprisingly good.

We arrived on a Friday night and were seated quickly. We ordered a bottle of Huntaway Reserve Chardonnay which we sipped whilst perusing the menu. I noticed that some of the passing mains looked rather large so decided to forgo the entrees and just order mains.

I opted for the Jerk Chicken, – char grilled chicken breast coated in Jamaican Jerk spice, served with lemon roasted potatoes finished with a palm sugar coriander reduction and petite salad.

My partner being a bit of a steak man went for the Steak House Scotch – 300g premium scotch fillet served with gourmet potatoes, beer battered onion rings and house-made ranch slaw finished with a red wine sauce and topped with béarnaise.

Our meals arrived in good time and were huge!

The Steak looked obscene. Even my partner who has a big appetite was overwhelmed. Having said that he managed to polish it all off. The Chicken was actually quite nice but there were far too many lemon roasted potatoes – though they were very nice too. One of those times when it’s great to have a partner with a big appetite, he managed to fit half of mine in too.

Consequently we shared a dessert. We chose the Chocolate Sandwich – Triple chocolate ice cream layered between double chocolate brownie served with chocolate sauce and soft cream. Whilst I prefer the darker less sweet chocolate at the end of the day all chocolate is good. The brownie was lovely and rich, and the portion generous without being over the top.

………..We rolled out the door!

The meal was nice but still had that “pub grub” feel. You get a lot of food for your money but it isn’t a fine dining experience. We thought about it for a while and decided it was better than average so decided to call it “Pub Grub Plus”.

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TE HORO’S SECRET TASTE TREAT.

By The Luwak
June 2012
 

I have a secret … and I’m going to share it with you!  Kirsty’s coffee bus, or more correctly Bus Stop Takeaways at 50 Dixie St Te Horo, is open Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays.

It was a beautiful sunny June day when we biked up along the beach to Te Horo. Normally we pack lunch as there are no food outlets at Te Horo beach that we know of, but having heard about Kirsty’s bus we were keen to check it out.

The bus is tucked away off the street and is by no means an ordinary take away, more a mini gourmet café.  Cheese & Leek Flan, Fish Pie, Cheese & Caramelised Onion Toasted Ciabatta Sandwich, Eggs on Toast, Homemade Soup, Chocolate Brownie and Pecan Caramel Slice are just some of the tasty delights on offer.

We both opted for the Cheese & Caramelised Onion Toasted Ciabatta Sandwich and Pecan Caramel Slice along with a Supreme coffee. Everything was perfect, and with the sandwich priced at only $5 good value too.

But wait there’s more!! Kirsty is a crafty wee pea and had some homemade items for sale. A very funky tea cosy made out of felt, cute teddies, tomato relish, marmalade and big chunks of panforte.
I’m in heaven! To have such a cool café in their midst I’m guessing that the locals and weekenders are pretty happy too.

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Lembas Cafe – Magic Food!

By The Luwak
May 2012
 

It was a Saturday night and Lembas Cafe was fully booked. There were also a fair few people at the Valhalla Café & Restaurant across the road. Raumati South was alive!

Though the café was busy we were looked after well all evening and there were no long waits between courses. We ordered breads and dips to start, which is not actually on the menu but they had no problem putting together an appealing platter consisting of three different types of bread lightly grilled and three dips.  I love to start a meal with good quality bread and a glass of wine.

For the main course we both opted for the Creamy Smoked Paprika Chicken. Again the presentation was very appealing, with the chicken breast served on a rosti, covered with the paprika sauce and surrounded by roasted baby onions and cherry tomatoes. The side of vegetables consisted of baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini with a dab of hollandaise – colourful and delicious. I also noted that the steak being eaten at the next table was full of colour, with long green beans and thick slices of grilled red pepper. It looked fantastic!

I usually pass on dessert but the Vanilla Crème Brulee with Cinnamon Cookie was calling. The custard was rich and smooth with the right balance of hard caramel on top, not too thick, not too thin. My only disappointment was that it didn’t come with the said cinnamon cookie, instead it was served with half a chocolate truffle and a segment of mandarin, the mandarin worked but the truffle didn’t. I saved it for later.

All in all it was a delightful meal from start to finish.

Lembas Café lives up to its name and delivers “Magic Food”. It remains one of my favourites on the coast.

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Coffee at The Purple House

By the Luwak

I thought it was high time that we checked out The Purple House Café over the railway line. It is a bit out of the way for us, but it must be great for the locals to have their own cafe.

The coffee is Ozone, which I like; the cups are mugs which I’ m not a fan of (call me fussy!)

The coffee was hot, strong and unfortunately rather bitter – I usually have one sugar but had to go to two sugars, it was an ok coffee but the bitter aftertaste stayed with me for a while.

My partner said his coffee was also bitter, plus a bit watery with not enough froth. A bit disappointing all round really.

I do urge cafes to regularly monitor their coffee making. Make good coffee and the people will come; make poor coffee and the people won’t come back!

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Coffee taking off at Kapiti Airport

By the Luwak

Thought I’d better get in quick and check out the coffee at the new café at Paraparaumu Airport appropriately called ‘iLand.’

We ordered large lattes which are served in tall glasses rather than cups – I personally don’t like coffee in a glass and feel there should always be a choice (especially as I like hot coffee and don’t like burning my fingers), however that’s the way they do it there.

The coffees arrived and looked good, as did the food. My partner’s pie came with a choice of two relishes in very cool shot glasses, my big square of nougat came with a little serviette folded like a bird. Cute!

The coffees were very nice (still would’ve preferred that cup though), good level of crème and no bitterness whatsoever – hallelujah!

The one thing that I found incredibly off putting (and this may be out of the control of the café) is that when we arrived the speakers outside the terminal were blaring out mindless DJ babble from a local radio station.

The radio is quieter in the café and by the time we sat down some music was playing but radio does nothing by way of creating ambience, which is so important in a café.

Yay Lembas and best wishes to Gail who is about to move on and has done such a huge amount for that little corner of Raumati South. Lembas is well known now as a poetry cafe not just here but in the Wellington region. And hello to Alison -we miss you here and hope all is going well for you and your family in UK.

HI Gill I still miss NZ and know where I’d rather live! (especially as we now live far away from the coast and have a warmongering nuclear powered out of touch government!) But we are happy here for the time being and my parents need us! We’ve had some great travel opportunities in Africa and the Middle East. Very committed to Palestine activism after a PHR-I visit to the West Bank and have set up a local group which does a lot of work to end the illegal occupation. Working with refugees and asylum seekers in my day job! Give Alan T your email address and I’ll get in touch it would be lovely to hear how you are x

PS THE BRITS HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO MAKE COFFEE THINK YOURSELVES LUCKY DOWN THERE. AND THERE IS NOTHING LIKE LEMBAS HERE!

Hi Alison – hate to contradict but great coffee can be found in London – I was in Hackney for another month recently and the many cafes in the Broadway market between London Fields and the Regent Canal all offer great coffee. As well, there is the wonderful Wilton Way cafe and a couple more cafes under the railway arches near London Fields Station making fantastic coffee and a wide range of baked-on-the-spot breads.

I really like coffee, but am no way a connoisseur. Reading Luwaks comments over a period of time makes me wonder if he/she really know what they are talking about.
‘good level of crème ‘ – I think the correct term is crema. And as for admitting to adding sugar? – Why ruin a good coffee? Lattes are typically served in a 10 ounce glass in NZ and Australia

I really like coffee too and have never proclaimed myself to be a connoisseur, just got tired of going to cafes and getting an average coffee. I have done some research and have talked to a fair few baristas but don’t want to come across as a coffee snob. When it comes to Lattes in glasses or cups all I have ever stated is my personal preference.

interesting to see the noise issues persist in NZ. it’s the same here in the UK. I feel like I have to take my ear plugs to the gym, to the blood donation session, to the supermarket and to the airport – mindless radio seems to be the norm throughout the UK and there is a growing revolution against it. trouble is, al ot of folk don’t even notice! Why is quiet, or the companiable rattle of kitchen and cafe, or just back ground ‘life’ so intolerable?

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