Marmite fans, take note: there is one place where the national shortage seems to not apply. For Parnell's Little Espresso Room has "creamy Marmite mushrooms" as part of its regular brunch menu. Where do they get their supply? And is it their fault there is a supply crisis?
Intrigued, I order this dish while Vegetarian Friend and I sit in the cafe's sunny courtyard adjacent to Parnell Rd. We've already been impressed by the friendly, prompt service from the waiter and the variety on the menu. There is a good number of dishes I would happily tuck into, including muesli with cranberries, almonds, fruit and orange blossom yoghurt; eggs benedict on homemade potato hash; bacon "butti" with avocado, homemade tomato sauce and aioli. Inside, there is also a large blackboard menu with colourful handwritten selections, including the sweetcorn, feta and capsicum hotcakes which VF opts for.
The waiter informs us that today a number of menu items are $10 specials. So instead of paying $17 for the mushrooms and $15 for the hotcakes we pay just $10 for each. We're delighted.
My Supreme Coffee soy flat white is strong, bitter and creamy, and VF enjoys her fresh, clean peppermint tea. But, when it comes to the food we both feel our choices are left wanting. VF's hotcakes are fluffy but dry, so she is glad they are served with sour cream, tomato relish and salad. She forgot to omit the bacon from her order so she donates her rashers to me - they're salty, crispy and delicious.
The flavour is very subtle in my dish and would benefit from a touch more Marmite, but perhaps Little Espresso is on rations? There is a substantial serve of the creamy, chopped button mushrooms but they need more seasoning - I add salt and pepper which lifts the dish.
One thing neither of us appreciate is the commercial radio station blasting out autotune chart hits and annoying adverts from the speakers above our head. Something soothing would be much more desirable.
I buy a couple of baked goods to take away. Stashing them in my bag, by the time I get home I have forgotten they're there. Boyfriend and I tuck into them the following day - both the Anzac biscuit and melting moment are still fresh, moist and delicious more than 24 hours after I bought them.
LITTLE ESPRESSO ROOM
WHERE: 320 Parnell Rd, Parnell, Auckland, ph 09 358 2057.
WHEN: Monday to Friday, 7am-4pm; Saturday to Sunday, 8am-4pm.
WHAT'S TO EAT: Brunch standards, cabinet food, and some interesting additions.
HOW MUCH: $35.40 for two brunches ($10 specials), a tea, a coffee and two cakes.
WHAT DO WE THINK: A good option but room for improvement.
- Sunday Star Times