|Name||Chocolate Dayz Cafe|
REVIEW: On Saturday, when we visited Days Bay for lunch, every second person seemed to be walking about the seaside community with a number pinned to their chest. We timed our visit to Chocolate Dayz Cafe with a local Scouts fundraising effort to break the world record for firewalking. Cars lined the roadside, and the local park was packed with kids and adults queuing to walk across a 2.5-metre line of embers. The Scouts did break the world record set in Dunedin in 2004, with 615 people managing to firewalk to raise money to send to a school and orphanage in Kenya.
By 2pm, many of them seemed to pour into Chocolate Dayz Cafe on the Days Bay waterfront, buzzing after their involvement in this community event. We were already parked up at a cafe table in a covered outdoor area, sheltered from the rapidly deteriorating day but still with a magic view of the beach. No0318 wandered in carrying a backpack, walking out with a takeaway coffee. A walker who had come down from Butterfly Creek in the bush behind Eastbourne peeled off layers of clothes and sat at an outside table.
Chocolate Dayz has a similar feel to Chocolate Fish and Chocolate Frog cafes, and that's partly because they were all founded by the same owners and share a similar, relaxed decor. From the weather-beaten tables and painted wooden chairs outside the Chocolate Dayz, it's possible to gaze across the harbour towards the Miramar Peninsula where the other cafes are located. Like Fish and Frog, Dayz has been around for more than a decade, and while it's now owned by partners Sasha Finnigan and Kuini Hall, it has the friendly spirit and X-factor that helps cafes like this survive where others founder. Good food and good coffee help too and both are faultless here, apart from the prices, which seem relatively steep.
While the counter staff were chirpy and chatty, we took menus and sat outside. After waiting for five minutes, staff wandering about clearing tables, I popped inside to get a glass of water. I quickly realised we were expected to order at the counter. On a good note though, I had barely sat down when our meals arrived eight minutes later. My friend's big breakfast ($18.50) covered the plate – fried eggs, hashbrowns, mushrooms, sausages and bacon. He tucked in, declaring it perfect.
Chocolate Dayz has an ample menu, but I was tempted by the vegetable panini in the well-stocked counter. Served with salad, the panini was chocka with roasted vegetables, olives, blue cheese, and relish on the side ($11). It was a good option for a light lunch. I followed this with a piece of zingy citrus slice which was home-baked and delicious.
Chocolate Dayz serves Karamu coffee blend, which is roasted around the corner on Point Howard by the cafe's previous owners. It's a nutty, grunty blend, and my flat white arrived perfectly strong and hot. Sasha Finnigan says they wanted to continue to support the brand when they bought the cafe two years ago.
Kuini Hall – the former personal chef to Bodyshop's Anita Roddick – had worked as the Chocolate Dayz chef for six years before the couple bought the cafe. Finnigan ran a sports management business in Britain and it was a dream for the couple to shift to New Zealand and open a cafe.
Living a couple of minutes away from Chocolate Dayz, they're continuing the cafe's philosophy of serving a variety of food, good coffee and wine in a relaxed beach setting. Finnigan says some dishes are impossible to take off the menu, such as the kidneys, fish-cakes and home-baked yo yos, because they're always sought by regulars.
There's something endearingly nostalgic about Chocolate Dayz Cafe, which is very much a fixture in tight, community-spirited Eastbourne. The ferry from my home in Seatoun wasn't operating the day we visited, but boating across a glassy harbour would have made this an even more memorable day out.
Chocolate Dayz Cafe
614 B Marine Parade Dr, Days Bay
Hours: Mon to Fri, 7.30am to 4pm; Sat/Sun, 8am to 5pm.
Coffee: Karamu – strong, smooth and hot.
Sounds: Fat Freddy's Drop playing at the perfect level.
Mags: Dominion Post, and a mix of design and women's magazines, along with tourism pamphlets.
Clientele: Firewalkers, locals, daytrippers.
Try this: The citrus slice.
- © Fairfax NZ News