Taupo has long been one of those great holiday destinations - heavy on sunshine and activities, but light on places to get a decent bite to eat.
How things have changed, with some new cafes challenging an old favourite, the Replete Food Company, which has been there since 1993 and for years the only place to get a good coffee.
So does the old timer still measure up?
Judging by the queue out the door, Replete's reputation as the destination for good food and a mean coffee is still intact.
Owners Chris and Kathy Johnston are still on to a winner with their cafe and kitchen shop, with good-quality food that keeps them up there even with new cafes knocking on the door.
Replete . . . is a drawcard for anyone wanting a decent meal and a chance to watch the world go by.
The owners' objective, as the name suggests, is to have the cabinet stocked with tasty but simple food, and for customers to feel replete. You can tick that one.
Replete has an extensive and interesting breakfast and lunch menu and a counter overloaded with wonderful takeout treats, savoury and sweet. After a respite, you'll be ready to tackle the shops or head down to the lake. The cafe is open every day, with a menu that switches at 11am.
The interior is . . . relaxed and slightly retro, with a large wall adorned with orange and brown 1960s swirls, and plenty of seating at tables or bar leaners.
There's a touch of industrial, but lots of wood to soften and put you in holiday mood. Large aerial photographs of Taupo adorn the walls and, of course, there is the kitchen shop on the other side.
I'll defy you not to splash out on some delicious sauce for the barbecue that night.
I'm tempted by . . . almost everything sitting at the counter, especially the lasagne ($8.50), but I opt for the lunch menu after arriving in the half hour that is too late for breakfast.
I pick the chargrilled chicken salad with lime and feta dressing. It's a massive helping for $15, almost too much.
My partner orders . . . a banana smoothie ($4) and the steak sandwich - grilled beef, toasted brioche, smoked mushroom and rocket ($16.50). There is a mild panic when we can't find the mushrooms, but we unearth a mushroom tapanade sitting under the lid of the bun.
The brioche is a definite hit, but the balsamic glaze drizzle all over the bun is overdone. Bravo to cafes that let the punter decide when there's enough sauce.
We can't resist taking away a bacon and egg picnic tart from the counter.
The service is . . . excellent. We arrive between menus, but the waitress checks with the kitchen and we are able to order early from the lunch menu.
The staff are young, efficient and friendly. The schoolboy waiter delivers the coffee and food quickly and our plates are cleared promptly but not so swiftly that the cutlery has barely landed on the empty plate.
Replete is busy with a constant stream of workers and tourists coming in for takeaways, but there is always a spare table.
We take a break from the sun and sit inside on bar leaners and are surrounded by . . . a couple of families sipping smoothies while waiting for takeaways.
The coffee is . . . from Auckland roaster Millers. It's the first time I have tried this brand, but it's superb, with a great barista behind it. My $4 long black is hot, strong and comes out briskly. I don't need a second one.
We can read . . . the day's newspaper and tourist brochures, but people watching is more fun.
If I went back again, I'd . . . make sure I was up early enough to try the breakfast menu and grab the Moroccan lamb meatballs, tomato sauce, baked eggs and ciabatta for $14.50.
45 Heu Heu St, Taupo
Hours: Open 7 days a week, from 8am-5pm weekdays, 8.30am-4pm weekends
Phone: 07 377 3011
- The Dominion Post