An expedition north of the bridge is worth the effort for a relaxed brunch
SET UP & SITE: It turns out just across the bridge you can get a brunch worth writing home about, without half of Ponsonby seated right next to you. A vibrant shade of what can only be described as Barbie pink, Manny Moo is near-impossible to miss, situated on the corner of Lake Rd and Bayswater Ave. However, the exterior is just the beginning. Walking in, you’re greeted with floor-to-ceiling turquoise walls that fit so perfectly you wonder why other cafes aren’t painted brilliant block colours. With mismatched chairs, jars of dried fruit and flowers as table decorations, checkerboard flooring and hand-drawn table numbers, the cafe nails the balance between cutely quirky and weekend garage sale. Since opening in late May, Manny Moo has been the talk of Belmont, quick to become a beloved local, and it isn’t just for their set-up.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL: While the menu is short, it covers the typical brunch bases with dairy-free and gluten-free options among the traditional granola, pancakes, smoothie bowl, and, of course, smashed avo. Then there are unusual dishes like pork belly buns, vegan tacos and dumpling soup. Meanwhile, the cabinet has all the standard baked goods from berry muffins to cheese scones and raspberry brownies. However, it was the drinks menu that take the cake, with two-thirds of the menu dedicated to the various types of coffee, kombucha, tea and fresh-pressed juices. While my almond milk flat white was pretty damn perfect, my brunch partner described the Oh-So Berry smoothie as “quite healthy tasting”, which probably wasn’t a compliment. A self-considered connoisseur of avocado on toast, I was well impressed with Manny Moo’s. Beautifully presented on a small wooden board, the rye toast was crispy, and while it was a little light on the tomato, the dukkah and balsamic was a perfect touch. Feeling adventurous, my co-bruncher had the pork belly buns, also presented with thoughtful attention to detail — and eaten with great satisfaction. SERVICE & OTHER STUFF: As we drifted into late morning, the outside tables began to fill with groups and couples, soaking in the sunshine at what is clearly the new favourite spot in Belmont. Half a crossword, two coffees and a few hours later, I was all but dragged by my partner from this little brunch oasis, returning back to that bustling city across the bridge.