The Metro in Auckland produces a yearly top 100 for restaurants and cafes, and though the opinions on how reliable the Metro is seem to vary, I thought I should try out the ‘Supreme Winner‘ of their cafes list. Takapuna Beach Cafe.
The first thing to note is that it’s not really a cafe in a conventional sense. It’s much closer to a restaurant, and the atmosphere is surprisingly formal when you consider it’s styled after a beach respite. This isn’t a bad thing, but don’t expect to just pop in like you would a coffee shop. You may well be waiting for a table, alternatively you might prefer to take away (and pick up some quality ice cream from the adjoining shop as you do so). Still, the ambience is relaxed and the waiters and waitresses are knowledgeable, even if they are sometimes a bit absent during busy periods.
The food is really quite good, and I tried their fish and chips, which I had vowed to do before I left Auckland to see how snapper (NZ’s pride fish) measured up to cod when placed in batter. When the waiter said that the fish in their fish and chips wasn’t snapper, he was very quick to offer the snapper as an alternative. Something I appreciated, and that I knew I would get a freshly cooked piece of fish. Actually, snapper measures up surprisingly well, and it had been battered with an immensely tasty beer batter. The snapper itself is soft and flakes very easily, making it perfect for fish and chips. The chips (a measure for any restaurant) were tasty, and substantial, keeping much of the potato and not getting rid of all the skin. I did find some of the chips hadn’t quite cooked through and so felt a little hard in the centre, but this is a problem for many thick chips and it did not detract from the eating.
A Marzocco greets you upon entrance. As, interestingly enough, does the Allpress sign. Takapuna Beach Cafe sells a blend called ‘Rangitoto‘ named for the towering (but extinct) volcano that is visible through the windowed walls of the cafe. Like the view, the blend is excellent, raw and rugged. It was a well pulled espresso, with only slightly over stretched flat white milk. The Rangitoto flat white is what New Zealand is all about: sophisticated, yet pure, with more than a hint of nature.
The cafe sits on the beach (as it would), on the North Shore of Auckland’s harbour. It’s not particularly central, but is definitely worth a visit. Takapuna itself is one of the more lively areas of Auckland, but to the lover of big cities they may find it lacking. From what I could see, the cafe would be the main reason for going to the area. The praise of the beach cafe sets the sights high, but Takapuna Beach Cafe does admirably in keeping up quality.