The lovely Mt Eden Village at the foot of Mt Eden – Maungawhau – certainly has its fair share of cafes lining the strip of heritage buildings. So far, so good. Except that for a long time, there really hasn’t been a cafe there that I’d fancy making a regular stop at , whether for just coffee and something sweet, breakfast or lunch. Sorry, they’ve all just been a bit bland for quite a while now, pulling in plenty of punters and not feeling the need to change anything on the menu ever, or anything at all about the decor.
So it was a delight to find Olaf’s Artisan Bakery and Cafe, just off Mt Eden Rd in a new development on Stokes Rd, a few months back. The food at Olaf’s – run by talented baker Olaf Blanke and Robert Heeps – is something quite special, particularly the wide range of freshly-baked breads and pastries, which are made right in front of your eyes in the open kitchen, and fill the whole space with an irresistible aroma. That’s a tangelo tart there, which has a surprising thin layer of dark chocolate between the pastry and the filling – what a thing of beauty! And hoorah, because tangelos are so under-utilised. Many of the breads are traditional German sourdoughs, as Olaf is from that part of the world, plus classic French loaves and baguettes, too. The menu is classic breakfast and lunch dishes with a European lean. I’ve read some odd remarks elsewhere on the tinterweb about the coffee at Olaf’s being ‘bitter’ – well, I’ve had coffee there three times now (Supreme beans), and can report that each time mine was robust, hot, and pretty damn good. I think some people confuse decently strong coffee with ‘bitter’, and would prefer the dishwater served at many cafes, their loss! Suffice to say Olaf’s was the only cafe in the Village to make last month’s Top 50 cafes in Metro magazine.
Anyway the other thing I like about Olaf’s is that it reminds me just a wee bit of the lovely Swiss Konditorei that used to span the corner of Mt Eden Rd and Essex St – heyday the late 1980s – the site of which now seems a tad doomed to a succession of places that just don’t quite get it right. The Konditorei had that slightly magical, very European quality, with its picture-perfect fruit tarts, gateaux and fresh bread. If only Olaf’s made ice cream and fruit sorbets like the Konditorei, I’d be happy as a young child again!
Olaf’s Artisan Bakery & Cafe, 1 Stokes Rd, Mt Eden, 638 7593