233-255 Jackson St, Petone.
Phone: 04 939 0009.
Hours: Monday-Friday 7.30am-4pm; Saturday-Sunday 9am-4pm.
Caffiend is packed to the gunnels when we walk in for our gals' lunch so we get the feeling it must be good tucker here.
Certainly looks like it from the impressive blackboard menu, including specials, and a counter of food with offerings like noodle salad paninis stuffed to within an inch of their lives and cakes.
Caffiend is . . . a bustling joint at the end of Jackson St with inside and outside dining. The vibe is relaxed, casual, warm and familiar.
The interior is . . . funky. The counter is made from old school corrugated panels and wood, the walls are exposed brick. There are fantastic picture windows and the blackboard menus are a thing of beauty in themselves. It has a pretty eclectic array of furniture - check out the retro gold coloured bucket seats at some of the tables. Sit soft in a loungy area or sit high at the bar stool tables and watch the metropolis of Petone.
The overall feeling of the place is . . . pretty laid back. Looks like a local haunt judging by the familiar chats some of the clientele are having with staff. There are a lot of cafes in this neck of the woods but this place looks like it's not struggling for punters. It's pretty kid tolerant (I wouldn't go as far as to say friendly), which we discover first-hand given I'm dining with my 3-year-old daughter, her pal of the same age and a friend.
I am tempted by the . . . Thai beef salad ($18.50). Described as beef, Shanghai carrots, red onion, sprouts, cucumber, smashed toasted nuts, crispy kumara and Rosie's "famous" Petone dressing, it sounded a-maz-ing! But I'm underwhelmed. Taste buds are crestfallen. How the dressing gets its fame status, I'm just not sure. It was good enough to finish but the whole thing just lacked the taste of Thailand.
My friend orders . . . the bruschetta plate. It's a trio of tastes: Tomato, avocado and basil with a balsamic reduction; smoked salmon and cream cheese with capers; and herb-infused halloumi with hummus ($17.50). The smoked salmon topping was delicious as was the balsamic reduction. The halloumi was a little dry, the bruschetta too hard. Overall it was OK but it remained unfinished. Despite the excellent kids' menu (see further down) the kiddiwinks couldn't get past the sausage rolls ($5). They ate 'em up with gusto leaving not a crumb.
The service is . . . pretty good overall. The staff weren't exactly tap dancing with joy but were efficient and tolerant of our charges.
Star turn: There are pens and colouring books for the kids, which kept them happy for a spell. They also offer a kids' menu with the likes of fruit kebabs ($3.50), fairy bread ($3.50) and pancakes with banana, bacon and maple syrup ($7.50).
The sounds are . . . upbeat ambient. But as lunchtime gets into full swing, the din of the diners - a great sound in itself - drowns out the music.
My coffee is . . . Karamu. Flat whites are decent enough - ($4) 7.5/10.
I can read . . . a good selection: Vanity Fair, Oh Baby, His.
We're surrounded by . . . a good mix of mums and babies, workers, couples - definitely a local vibe.
If I went back again I'd try . . . the Eastbourne Butcher's black pudding with bacon, poached egg and mango chutney ($18).
- The Dominion Post