Join the cool crowd

You’d be mad to miss this busy cafe where cul­ture and flavours col­lide

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - BRUNCH -

SET-UP & SITE

Geeks is an oa­sis of cool at the in­ter­sec­tion where mall traf­fic col­lides with school traf­fic and SUVs rolling out of the Briscoes Out­let Store (is there any other kind?). There are spec­tac­u­larly and de­fi­antly mis­matched houses — aus­tere, mock palace, com­plete with tur­rets and clad in stone meets tidy bun­ga­low, clad in Karen Walker Milk White. The cor­ner of Sains­bury Rd and Morn­ing­side Dr is a weird junc­tion, a gate­way to the kind of chaos I de­lib­er­ately try to avoid on my week­ends. To my shame, I have been blind to the charms of Geeks. I might be late to this. But clearly ev­ery­one else is not.

SUS­TE­NANCE & SWILL

It’s mid-week, mid-morn­ing and the out­door ta­bles are full of peo­ple sun­ning them­selves and en­joy­ing a brew. The cof­fee here is very good. It’s Flight, from Welling­ton, and it’s rich and strong. We or­der two soy pic­co­los ($4.50 each) be­cause I’ve al­ready had a caf­feine hit and I don’t want to spin off into or­bit with­out try­ing that mince on toast. Ac­tu­ally, it’s mince on toasted cia­batta. Ex­cept when I see the “sides”, I ask if I can have my mince on “lay­ered potato”, which is ba­si­cally potato gratin ($18 for the mince and $5 for the gratin). If it were my place, I’d say, look, have the gratin if it makes you happy, and we won’t charge you more than the $18. It’s not my place. But still, you could say $23 for mince and potato is pretty up there. It also comes with a per­fectly poached egg and truf­fle oil and is gar­nished with shaved parme­san. Suzi has bagels (Best Ugly) with smoked salmon, av­o­cado and she says it’s a clas­sic but beau­ti­fully bal­anced. Ev­ery flavour is per­fectly pro­por­tioned. Suzi is dis­cern­ing as hell, but not given to su­perla­tives, and she can’t fault her dish. The only thing we kind of wish we’d done is ex­plore the menu and dive out of our com­fort zone and into the soup — creamy potato and but­ton mush­room, with crispy ba­con. Or Bi-Bim-Bab: poached egg, beef mince, gochu­jang paste, seseame (sic, it’s a typo, they spell it cor­rectly else­where on the menu) oil, spinach, mar­i­nated sea­weed, sliced car­rot on quinoa rice with a side of ko-ve kim­chi. I have no idea how those flavours would col­lide, but I re­ally want to find out.

SER­VICE & OTHER STUFF

Wake up and smell the fair trade beans. “Geek” hasn’t been a pe­jo­ra­tive term for a long time now. A geek is not a diehard hob­by­ist, or some­one who likes to stay mostly in­doors and play video games. The word geek is Ger­manic in ori­gin, ap­par­ently, mean­ing “fool” and it’s re­lated to the Dutch “gek”, which means mad or silly. Geek now is a by­word for cool peo­ple. And these geeks to­tally are. It’s busy in­side — ev­ery­where — but the ser­vice is calm, at­ten­tive. It shouldn’t be note­wor­thy that they keep top­ping up our wa­ter and that the cof­fee and the kai comes swiftly, de­spite the crowds. So what? But that they do so with such grace and ease is re­ally great and worth men­tion­ing. Be­cause ser­vice — the right bal­ance of at­ten­tive­ness and re­straint — is im­por­tant for any meal of the day. And they know this. Geek out soon. Sarah Daniell

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