Time out: Casalinga Espresso


Angela Cuming gives her verdict on Waikato's cafe scene

CASALINGA ESPRESSO 737 Grey St, Hamilton East.

The Irishman is fond of sending photo messages via his smartphone - almost entirely of the cat and her daily exploits - so when an image of a chocolate fish atop a takeaway coffee landed it piqued my cafe interest.

He had been charmed by the sweetly added touch to his flat white from Casalinga Espresso and urged I discover its delights for myself.

So leaving he and the cat at home one sunny Thursday morning I called in and was immediately taken by what I saw.

Much of the cafe is within a carefully and lovingly restored 1920s heritage building, and the wood features, high ceilings and ornate light fittings give it a feel of a glorious old church.

I took a seat in the back courtyard, a wonderful whitewashed space that has a Mediterranean feel perfectly suited to sunny days.

I ordered a chilli hot chocolate and sat admiring the cafe's potted herb garden and dog-friendly policy, highlighted when a staff member brought a fresh bowl of water to a table occupied by a gorgeous little terrier and his owner.

My drink was lovely. It came with a chocolate fish, and the chilli and chocolate combination worked a treat. It made me quite thirsty, though, but I was able to pour a glass of cool water from a jug filled with mint leaves and wedges of lemon. A perfect touch.

The relaxing nature of this cafe is matched by its cheerful and witty staff. I had often walked hurriedly pass this cafe on the way to or from somewhere and would wonder what it was like inside. I shall be back.