Angela Cuming gives her verdict on Waikato's cafe scene.
It has always weighed deeply on my caffeine-sodden mind that the one and only truly bad review I have written was for a cafe in my neighbourhood.
I wrote at the time that I truly wanted to like the Cook Cafe and Bar in Hamilton East, but that two visits' worth of bad service had forced my hand.
It came as little surprise, then, to discover the Cook had since been sold back to its former owner Chris Rollitt, who took up the reins last month.
I felt it was only fair to give the place one last go and, leaving the Irishman at home with his writing, I made the walk back up to Steele Park and to the cafe that sits opposite it. I ordered a flat white at the counter from staff who were professional and friendly, and took a seat.
My coffee arrived promptly and was well made and I enjoyed a happy 10 minutes drinking it while flipping through the free magazines on offer.
The tables were filled with locals catching up over a cuppa, and the walls plastered with posters and flyers promoting a broad range of community events, which I loved to see.
What I didn't love, however, was the sound of pokey machines interrupting my morning coffee, or a great big sign telling me that "profits from the gaming machines in this venue are returned to help good causes in your local communities".
The Cook is also a bar, and bars and pokies go (sadly) hand-in-hand, but they are a grim reality I'd rather not face over my breakfast.