The Hip Group has mastered the art of the Auckland cafe. So many of their establishments are among the best reasons to go to the beautiful suburbs in which they're located: St Heliers Bistro & Cafe with its open, beachside bustle, Ortolana, with its Parisian courtyard sophistication, Takapuna Beach Cafe with its open, beachside bustle.
What's more, their food's great and often innovative, and the service happily well informed. Provenance, in Waimauku, a half-hour drive from West Auckland's western suburbs, brings the rolling countryside to Hip's portfolio - not a bad choice for a weekend outing.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL
The selection of traditional brunch options at Provenance is pretty short and there's nothing wrong with that: a simple menu is generally the best menu. What's most important is that the food looks good, tastes good, comes on time and is served by people who compliment you on your children, even when they are throwing raisins around.The food was pretty good. My agria rosti, poached eggs, avocado and creme fraiche with the optional pancetta ($28) was a fatty protein delight, although the egg yolk was disappointingly hard.My missus had promised to order the garden salad, smoked trevally, preserved lemon and soft egg ($21), which would have complemented the rosti, but inexplicably (and without consultation) ordered eggs benedict with butcher's sausage ($18). It was fine enough in taste but presented a strangely barren visage on the plate, absent of green or garnish.
Our friends had the same as us, but opted for thick-cut ham with their benedict, rendering it a minor sensation.
We had coffee, eventually. It was good, when it arrived.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF
We had booked, which was unnecessary but easy. There's a simple online form that instantly tells you if your booking is successful. Such are the pleasures of eating with a well-resourced company like the Hip Group.
Given those resources, and the fact the cafe was barely half full, it was befuddling that our coffee took almost 40 minutes to arrive. Nearly half that time elapsed after our waitress came to check if we were ready to order food, looked at the table, said, "Have your coffees not arrived yet?" and then left, presumably to organise those coffees, but in retrospect possibly to wander through the beautiful garden. The place is so lovely that she shouldn't be judged harshly for that.