Today myself and a friend, and a trio of lovely ladies were shown around some amazing eateries on the infamous Karangahape Road.
I came across this ‘Free K Rd Food Tour’ after ‘liking’ the K Rd Business Association’s Facebook page thanks to Facebook’s targeted marketing.. well done.
We all met up with our tour guide, a true K Rd local and well-dined individual, Daniel Davis at 2pm.
Our first stop was 518 K Rd – La Noisette where we met the owner and chef, Oscar. She was BRILLIANT! She was so passionate about her business and love of all things food-y.
Some interesting tidbits:
– She imports her chocolate direct from Belgium because they have the best chocolate (don’t know many that would disagree with her there).
– They make everything on site – even the pastry for their croissants!
– She has only been open five months, has two employees (one being her brother) and is open Mon-Sat 7.30-5.
– Being relatively new to the road, she has really been listening to her customers – They wanted her to stay open later, she now stays open ’til 5. They wanted more tables to sit at (currently there are three), she said no. Why? She believes that when you dine in, you need your own personal space. You shouldn’t feel like you have to get out quickly to make room for the next lot of customers. She believes in enjoying the whole experience when sampling her food.
This really struck a chord as these days it seems to always be about the bottom line when it comes to cafes and restaurants. It was so refreshing hearing such truths and feelings from a cafe owner.
At this stop we enjoyed a 70% texture (chocolate ganache covered in hard set chocolate and choc shavings), a deconstructed eclair and a yummy coffee.
Our next stop was Safka, a specialty food store that primarily stocks (yummy) food from Scandinavia and Germany. Products in-store are labeled with the country of origins flag and an English description. Located at 501 K Rd, this small shop was pretty busy when we were there today! It opened it’s doors about one and a half years ago and has been continually expanding it’s range since.
We sampled a traditional Swedish snack consisting of cumin seed crackers with codroe paste and cucumber. We washed that down with an Austrian Almdudler soft drink which was very refreshing and left with a chocolate covered plum (w liqueur) in tow which kept us going until our next stop – the Cruelty Free Shop in Kevin’s Arcade.
Although we just popped in (they had a big order in and were unable to host us as originally anticipated), it was great to have a bit of a looksy around the store. Having such a great range of vegan products and knowing that everything there is cruelty free, I know for sure that it would certainly make shopping a lot easier for some!
We then went across the road to 150 K Rd – Ironbar who have only been there since February of this year. We were greeted by the owner, Michael and invited to sit in the very secluded and lovely courtyard at the rear of the site. We were introduced to the French chef, Clemence, and were treated to some mouthwatering morsels.
With the most expensive main (the steak, what else?) being $20 and wines and spirits being $8, this is a super affordable breakfast/lunch/dinner spot. The ambiance is great with indoor and outdoor seating and tasteful decor. They have different events going on all the time for changing audiences e.g. jazz bands and hip hops groups performing in the same week. Again, the passion is clear here in the staff and the service and food they offer. Definitely a place I will return to, and let’s face it, probably frequent.
The final place on our tour was Verona. An establishment that has been around for some 20 years at 169 K Rd but has only had it’s current owners for two. Most of their produce is sourced from their garden in Leigh, which is also used for their ‘parent’ business, the Sawmill. I cannot even begin to explain the flavours and textures. You will just have to try it for yourselves.
The day was a great success having left with a great appreciation of those businesses starting up in such a well established area. The pure talent and love from all of the owners was so awesome to see. A bonus of the day is that we will be receiving a recipe from each place. My friend and I have decided that we’ll have to have an ‘Appreciation Evening’ where we whip up (well, attempt to) all these goodies. I will post photos when that happens.
If the K Rd Business Assn do decide to do something similar again, I would encourage everyone to get on board. Spending time in the area and taking time out to get to know the backgrounds of the owners behind the shop fronts is priceless.
Seeing different Kiwis pursuing their dreams was definitely the winner on the day.
Thanks K Road Business Association and all of the shops and cafes we visited.