Cul­tures col­lide

A mix of cuisines make for a pleas­ant and hon­est brunch ex­pe­ri­ence

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - BRUNCH - Greg Bruce

SET UP & SITE

In a mer­ci­lessly quiet, vaguely leafy, res­i­den­tial sub­ur­ban street, this small, bare, Rus­sian-in­flu­enced cafe sits un­ob­tru­sively in its small com­mer­cial block, just a cou­ple of small ta­bles out­side in­di­cat­ing its stand­ing as one of Mead­ow­bank’s pre-emi­nent cof­fee and gath­er­ing places. Park­ing is abun­dant, as is the com­mu­nity feel­ing of the place. It feels like a pri­vate din­ing room for the pleas­ant homes of the sur­round­ing streets. We ar­rived around 10am on Sun­day, into a room that was less than half full. “Is there some­thing wrong with this place?” we won­dered. Within half an hour it was full and get­ting fuller, which it con­tin­ued to do un­til when we left it over­flowed with east­ern sub­ur­ban­ites.

SUS­TE­NANCE & SWILL

The food comes from a cu­ri­ous mash of cul­tures. Borsch, pel­meni, green shak­shuka, smashed av­o­cado, french toast and eggs bene. I or­dered the bol­shoy break­fast ($23.50), which was a stan­dard sort of bench­mark big break­fast — sausage, tomato, mush­rooms, ba­con — but with the un­usual ad­di­tion of sauer­kraut and a sin­gle stick of beef shash­lik. It was a pile of food in the best sense of the word, en­tic­ing and ap­petis­ing and ul­ti­mately sat­is­fy­ing. My wife or­dered the green shak­shuka ($20), which com­prised poached eggs on tomatillo and kale sauce with av­o­cado, gar­lic yo­ghurt, feta and crispy po­lenta chips. It was creamy and nur­tur­ing and it would have been a fan­tas­tic on a cold morn­ing on the steppes. In the deep green sub­urbs of cen­tral east Auck­land on a warmish spring Sun­day, it was not bad.

SER­VICE & OTHER STUFF

Moloko as an op­er­a­tion is com­pletely lack­ing in con­trivance. In a brunch mar­ket where most places are striv­ing for a unique value propo­si­tion, Moloko seemed to revel in not both­er­ing with any of that non­sense. The ex­pe­ri­ence is most like go­ing to the house of a friend or neigh­bour you know too well for them to bother try­ing to im­press you any longer. The food comes quickly and with­out fuss, al­low­ing you to fo­cus your at­ten­tion on each other, which is typ­i­cally what you want to do, isn’t it? It’s not a cheap morn­ing out, but the peo­ple of Mead­ow­bank prob­a­bly aren’t overly fussed about that.

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