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20 Seaview Road,

(09) 812 8808

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byBrett Atkinson11/01/2010

Has any other Auckland café ever attracted so much controversy before even opening? For more than two years, plans to launch the Piha Café were subjected to interference and conniving from the selfish Piha NIMBY (‘Not in my backyard’) brigade. After eventual victory in the Environmental Court, the café finally opened a few months back in late October 2009.

Looking at how well the rustic-style building fits in with surrounding landscape, my immediate thought is “What was all the fuss about?” Sheathed in timber, with exposed beams and a sunny deck, the building is well-separated from any major residential area, the campground is just across the road, and the beach is a good five-minutes walk away. A few sly design touches linger with rescued knick-knacks from the site’s former incarnation as the local post office, and a side takeaways window is busy dispensing ice creams, breakfast burritos, coffee, and gourmet pies.

Seated at a big outdoor table painted like a ping-pong table, it’s obvious the café is already enjoying great support from visitors and locals alike (well, most of them anyway…). The man who should lead the Super City, Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey, picks up his coffee just as we order, and most tables are full with a mix of middle-aged local surfers and a few Brit and American accents. The all-day menu (from 8am to 3pm) is equally cosmopolitan, and my plate of grilled chorizo ($16) with rosemary potatoes, a soft-boiled egg, aioli and sumac, is a tasty and robust way to start the day. Carol’s choice of home-made fruit and nut muesli with strawberries and vanilla & honey yoghurt ($11) is equally good, and probably a healthier choice just a few days after the culinary overkill of Christmas Day. The café isn’t licensed, and there are no plans to add wine or beer, but in a beachy environment like Piha it’s just not needed anyway.

We’ve gone for a couple of the more ‘breakfasty’ items on the menu, but there’s more on offer equally suitable as lunch or an early dinner. Hot-smoked Stewart Island salmon and a grilled Angus Beef burger with gruyere cheese and red onion relish would sound pretty good after a bush walk or a dip between the flags.

Apparently the owners invested $200,000 in legal advice to win the right to open the café. It was money well-spent. The Piha Café is well worth the wait, and a victory for both common sense and good food.

The Piha Cafe has been reviewed by 9 users

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