The secret cafe
For a little while now, I have been trying to find a café in the Hutt Valley that friends of friends have said is very good. The only problem is - no one seems to be able to remember what it is called. Or exactly where it actually is.
So, after a little recon work, I have finally tracked it down. And I'm glad that I did. Aside from my favourite Petone Café, Go Bang, for an area serving such a decent sized population (Lower Hutt is around the 100,000 mark), I reckon the Hutt is a bit light on quality cafes. It is called Kotuku Rendezvous, and it is in Guthrie Street, in Waterloo/ Waiwhetu (I think, however, that I might just refer to it as Kotuku, or Kotuku Café, as the "Rendezvous" part makes it sound a bit ropey).
Having completed a decent swim at Huia Pool in Lower Hutt of a Sunday morning (half price between 8 and 9, bargain hunters!), I am ravenous. I am craving, as The Coach at Slow Boat calls it, a "big boy's breakfast". I am hoping Kotuku will be able to deliver. The signs are good: free-range eggs and bacon, non-smoking and dog-friendly outdoor areas all suggest a place that knows what it is doing, and whose food I am going to enjoy.
The café is nestled alongside the Hetet Maori Art Studios, and has a lovely, lazy, peaceful, mellow vibe that is carried through with service that is both courteous and relaxed. Water is delivered, coffee is brought swiftly, and exactly as ordered - strong and hot. Plus One orders the potato hash (with bacon), I have the "Half and Half" - a combination of their meat and vegetarian full breakfasts.
The food is delivered promptly, and looks appetising, and generous - my only concern is the lack of sauce - the yolks of a couple of poached eggs are probably not going to sufficiently "sauce" the potato hash cake and sausage for my liking. A ramekin of tomato sauce, however, is quickly forthcoming. Nice one.
Here's a funny thing - I reckon I like wilted spinach as a breakfast side more than with any other meal. I think of it almost like a warm salad that you have alongside bacon, eggs and other breakfast staples. There is a lovely, crunchy and soft house-made sourdough. I reckon the eggs are slightly overdone, and the hash cake underseasoned, but the bacon is crispy, and there are salt and pepper grinders on the table for me to sort out the seasoning (I hate it when there is not!).
When I finish eating, despite being ravenously hungry (from my penitent swimming), I feel sated, satisfied, well-fed - which is slightly disappointing when I go inside to settle up and see the array of baked goods on the counter - excellent-looking cookies, cheese scones, and Ottolenghi-styled meringues on the counter. Mental note: next time, save room for a few extra morsels.
And I am sure there will be a next time - it wasn't quite perfect, but it was pretty close. I reckon it might just be a place worth becoming a (semi-)regular at - especially given the paucity of quality cafes in the Hutt. I applaud the use of free-range, quality ingredients, and reckon their service and vibe is right on the money. I shall look forward to returning to the secret café - especially now I have figured out where it actually is!
Where do those in the know reckon the best cafes in the Hutt are? And what other "secret" cafes do you know of, i.e. those that are a bit tricky to find, but that are worth tracking down?
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