Gearing up for the first swim of the summer, first we need some sustenance. We head away from the hustle and bustle of the new Commons complex and Hurstmere Rd's bounty of bars and cafes. We want something a bit more secluded and have heard about Latin Larder's sunny courtyard further on.
Upon entering, we can see the courtyard through the kitchen windows at the back of the cafe, but there's no obvious way to get there. I ask the unfalteringly friendly waitress, who gives us directions and offers to take us to it but, as we have to order at the counter, we decide we'll get there ourselves after choosing our food.
The menu is scrawled in chalk on a large blackboard, which I find quite hard to read. Luckily the staff give us plenty of time to peruse it without rushing us to order. It does say it's the "winter menu", though - confusing when the sun is blazing outside.
Boyfriend goes for the sweetcorn fritters and a side of bacon; I choose the "eastern eggs" and the man on the till tells me I've made the best choice. "It's tasty but won't leave you feeling too full," he promises.
We make our way down the alleyway beside the next-door florists and find ourselves in a sunny, walled courtyard, with shade provided by umbrellas and trees. Pretty pink flowers line the window looking into the kitchen, where we see at least three chefs calmly hard at work.
Our Miller's coffees arrive promptly - the flat white and mocha are rich, creamy and piping hot. Our food follows. Boyfriend's bacon is brought out by the chef in a separate bowl, as if he didn't want to spoil the excellent presentation of the fritters. The bacon is crispy and moreish; the fritters are light, with a pleasing sweetcorn-to-batter ratio, with wilted spinach and homemade salsa on top.
But Boyfriend freely admits he's got food envy - my eastern eggs is a tasty triumph. Served in a cast-iron skillet, two poached eggs sit on top of chickpeas curried with coriander, onion, tomato, ginger and black sesame seeds. The free-range eggs ooze into the mix with one gentle fork prick. It's so good I can't help but scrape out every last bit of the rich sauce left in the bottom of the skillet at the end.
With our stomachs full but, as promised, not too full, we make our way to the beach for a dip. It's freezing. There are still hints of winter around after all.
WHERE: 170 Hurtstmere Rd, Takapuna, Auckland, ph 09 489 5563.
WHEN: Tuesday to Sunday, 6.30am-3pm.
WHAT'S TO EAT: A "winter menu" packed with delicious brunch and lunch options.
HOW MUCH: $50.30 for two mains, one side and two coffees.
WHAT DO WE THINK: Winter or summer, a cafe for all seasons.
- Sunday Star Times