Good coffee and food overcome first impressions
SET UP & SITE: At last a Sunday that lived up to its name, so a long-intended expedition to Browns Bay and its second-hand market seemed perfect. First, however, brunch, to fuel us for the day ahead. I had heard of relative newcomer Common Ground Eatery (the word “Eatery” seems to be increasingly common in cafe names) but finding it was uncommonly tricky — we’d missed it on the first drive along Clyde Rd. On discovering the relatively nondescript cafe, we found the interior equally as unprepossessing, a minimalist industrial-style mix of concrete, wood and tiles. The rear of the dining area has a mural of fernery — an enlarged echo of the hanging planters adorning the walls elsewhere in the room. Bench seating lines the wall as you enter CGE, with small tables and a chair for your companion lined up very closely — fine if you want to get to know your neighbours, not so fine for a private conversation. The music was also a tad loud for ease of conversation. To the rear of the cafe are tables for larger groups. We were but two, so were seated in the cheek-by-jowl section.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL: The cabinet holds a fine-looking selection of savoury and sweet treats, however, we opted for the menu — a mixture of common brunch fare (think eggs benedict) and the lesscommon (think soft-shell crab as an accompaniment for the eggs bene). I opted for the shakshuka ($16.50), which came served in a perfectly sized ceramic ramekin and accompanied by two slices of sourdough bread, and my companion had eggs bene with South Island salmon ($19.50) — the eggs were perfectly poached. CGE uses Coffee Supreme and Rocket Espresso, and whichever of those our long blacks were made of, they were just right. In the “uncommon” category of the drinks menu are coffee alternatives matcha and activated charcoal lattes.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF: The service was attentive and friendly. The venue is fine for a pre (or post) market refuelling session, or in conjunction with a trip to the beach.