Wednesday 22 June 2011

Takapuna Beach Cafe, Takapuna, Auckland

{house hot chocolate}

The three most important things in real estate is location, location, location ~ Unknown

You would really be hard pressed to find a better location for a cafe than the Takapuna Beach Cafe on Auckland's North Shore.

It sits literally metres away from Takapuna Beach with it's golden sand and sprawling pohutukawa trees, overlooking the ocean with Rangitoto Island in the background.  Combine that with the grandiose floor to ceiling windows and the uber stylish decor, and you've got the recipe for a cafe you just want to while away the day in.

When the Takapuna Beach Cafe (TBC) first opened, it was the place to be.  Be you a celeb, a lady who lunches, muso or suit you wanted to be seen having a coffee at the TBC.  Best people watching spot ever.

We used to go to the TBC all the time when I was living in Auckland, I loved the consistently excellent coffee, the impeccably attentive service and most of all the exceptional restaurant-quality food that was always creative and always delicious.  So when my cousin and his girlfriend were over for our wedding, I couldn't think of a better place to show off Kiwi cafe culture.

The question was, would the TBC still be as good as I remembered? Would the setting, coffee, service and food still be as good? Well...turns out 3 out of 4 ain't bad.

The setting 

{glass dome love}
The stylish interior of this cafe was just as chic as I remembered.  Modern, sleek and minimal.  The glass tables combined with the floor to ceiling windows just made the whole place light and airy, a total sun-trap.  Beautiful glass domes filled with cakes and sweet treats sat temptingly in the middle of the cafe and the open kitchen meant you could see all the chefs hard at work cooking up their culinary creations.

I want my house to look like this cafe.  Mad decor envy.

{light fittings love}
It was also a gloriously sunny day.  Auckland really turned it on for us.  The beach was as pretty as a picture, with plenty of people out and about walking their dogs and launching their boats into the water.  Just another day on the North Shore.

The coffee

{house hot chocolate}

The star drink was the House Hot Chocolate.  A chocoholics dream.   Melted chocolate sat at the bottom of the glass served with a pitcher of hot foamed milk and a small dish of chocolate shavings.  You added the milk to the chocolate to your own taste and sprinkled the choc shavings on top.  Decadent, chocolaty goodness.

I ordered my usual flat white and found myself eyeing Tracy's chocolate concoction with thinly disguised envy.  At a steep $9.00 though, the House Hot Chocolate is not for the faint-hearted.

Our coffees arrived quickly, were hot and really good.  My flat white was thick and creamy with good crema, Mum's tea was a loose leaf English Breakfast blend which she was very happy with and Clement enjoyed his mochachino.   So a big thumbs up for coffee quality.

The Food

{eggs benedict with lemon cured salmon and side of roasted portobello mushrooms}

In terms of food, it was a bit of an eggs bene bonanza.  Mum, Clement AND Tracy all ordered eggs benedicts with lemon cured salmon, albeit with different sides.

Each eggs benedict came with two poached eggs with a generous dollop of hollandaise served on a bun.   The eggs bene brigade didn't mind the bun saying that they weren't too hard at all, although Mum would have preferred the traditional English muffin.  The salmon portions were generous and the salad greens were a nice fresh touch.

Mum's kumara cake side dish was delish, a fluffy sweet potato cake.  The mushroom side was a bit of a let down however.  We thought we had ordered the mushroom side with the creme fraiche and black truffle oil but they came without (must have been a miscommunication).  With nothing on them the naked mushrooms they were pretty plain and snoro-o-boro.

{roasted portobello mushrooms on sour dough}

I ordered the roasted portobello mushrooms on sour dough with creme fraiche, black truffle oil and bacon.  Surprise, surprise, when do I not order the mushrooms?! Especially when there's truffle oil and bacon in the mix - sold!

However, I am afraid to say, I was rather underwhelmed.  The herbed creme fraiche needed waaaay more herbs, the mushrooms themselves had no flavour, the sour dough was touch as nails and I couldn't for the life of me taste the truffle oil.  It came off as just bread, bacon, mushrooms and creme fraiche - which is exactly what I ordered sure, but there was no zing, no pizazz, it was bland and completely uninspiring.  It needed something to kick it up the backside like lemon juice or balsamic...something.

{chicken livers with cumin & herb cream}
I was feeling gluttonous so also ordered a side of chicken livers with cumin & herb cream.  The livers were cooked to perfection: smooth creamy and unctous.  The sauce, however, left a lot to be desired.  It just tasted like cream with cumin.  I've had curries out of a jar that were tastier.  It needed more spices, more herbs, more depth, and a kick of acidity to cut through the rich cream and the rich livers.

Am gutted bout this since this cafe is such a fav of mine.  The menus are updated regularly though so hopefully next time we come the reincarnations of these dishes will be back up to the old TBC standards.


The service on the other hand was faultless.  Chatty friendly waitstaff seated us right away, kept our water glasses topped up.  They made sure we were happy, comfortable and caffeinated.  There also, wasn't much of wait for the coffees or the food despite the place being packed out.  Mahi pai guys.

{getting shots of a stoic seagull}

Rating: 2.5/5

At a glance

Takapuna Beach Cafe
22 The Promenade
North Shore
(09) 484 0002

Service: Friendly, attentive and efficient.

Food: Sadly lacking in flavour.  Portion sizes generous though and there was a big menu selection.

Setting: You can't beat the setting at TBC: modern interiors, stunning view, you'll want to stay there for hours.

Price (NZD): Prices are typical Auckland cafe prices.  Breakfast for four was $126.00

House Hot Chocolate $9.00
Flat white $4.50
Mochachino $5.00
Special Blend English Breakfast Tea $4.50
Eggs benedict with lemon cured salmon $18.50
Roast portabello mushrooms on sour dough, creme fraiche, black truffle oil with bacon $23.50
Chicken livers with cumin & herb cream side order $8.00
Sweet potato cake side order $5.00
Roast portobello mushrooms side order $5.00

Summary:  Location, location, location may be everything in real estate but for a cafe: flavour, flavour, flavour is king.  The coffee, setting and service were great but the food just wasn't up to scratch - bland and boring, which was surprising since it's usually top notch.  However, we will be back so fingers crossed next time we'll be blown away.


  1. Nice post and blog. What kind of camera/lens do you use?

  2. i heart first pic and cupcakes in jar is class!

  3. I might pop in for the hot chocolate but skip the food.

  4. I agree with PeasePudding. That hot chocolate looks like a fun treat. I would order it just because I know I'd get food envy if I didn't get it and saw someone else with it. I wouldn't say those prices are typical of Auckland, more on the high side. I've never paid more than $20 for breakfast in Auckland. $23.50 for an ok meal would make me sad.

  5. Anonymous: Hiya Anonymous, I use a Canon EOS 450D with a 50mm f1.8 lens :)

    Ayesha: Thanks heaps!

    Ananda Rajashekar: I so love those domes too!! Want my house FULL of them :)

    peasepudding: I'm definitely gonna try the hot choc when I next go in too! Will def look over the mushies... :)

    bunnyeatsdesign: Hehe I get food envy too! I'm a terrible nosey-norry diner and always check out what tables next to me are eating! I remember when big breakfasts were $20 and creamy mushrooms around $15...when did brunch get to expensive huh?! Thanks for stopping by!



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