250 Puhi Huia Rd, Mount Eden
We spent: $67.60 (with two coffees) for three adults
Reviewed by Amelia Wade
For a flatmate bonding brunch on a sunny Sunday. Ged loves Tāmaki Makaurau probably more than anyone in the city, while Jason would be happy to eat brunch for every meal, so Whau Cafe seemed a good fit.
Found halfway up Maungawhau (Mt Eden), Whau is brunch with a side of education - quite literally as attached to the cafe is an education centre. As we walk into the airy building nestled in native bush, Ged's eyes start rolling into the back of his head. "This is great, what a place. How incredible."
We took a seat outside, with a view out to the SkyTower next to tables of city-fringe dwellers who briskly asked for their orders to be taken and tourists with cameras piled high.
The menu at Whau is as impressive as its mountainside location. The Māori-inspired dishes feature ingredients you're unlikely to find in other trendy brunch spots.
I couldn't not order the kūtai parai (mussel and kamo kamo fritters with a poached egg and greens), especially after the waitress kindly explained what kamo kamo is (a type of squash).
Ged eagerly ordered the kakato kawakawa - fry bread crumpets - while the less adventurous Jason opted for the kūmara o rongo (kūmara pancake with a poached egg and creme fraiche).
The mussel fritters had the right amount of stodge - though perhaps a little salty - and the perfectly poached egg. Though I had to share it, as after getting halfway through his three frybread crumpets, Ged started feeling a little full.
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While deliciously sinful, it perhaps wasn't the best way to start a day. Jason was perfectly pleased with his pancake and egg but was left a little wanting, given he was carbo-loading for the very gentle walk up to summit we had planned afterwards.
Everything about the cafe is geared towards gently educating its patrons about the mountain.
Locals and tourists alike asked about the unique menu almost as much as they enquired into who would take their order; a clear system of service yet to be established. But they seemed very eager to improve where they can as the staff earnestly asked for reviews of our meals as they had a new kitchen hand.
The education centre next door was impressive and complete with augmented reality handsets to watch the mountain erupt and be settled, much to Ged's delight and wonderment. It was also a joy to walk up to the summit, starting halfway up and pretend that'd be enough to burn off one-and-a-half fry bread crumpets.