After a manic first week I was on a high and with Zac at work and me busying my self with some serious life admin, I didn’t have time to really notice he wasn’t there.
Then Sunday rolls around and despite my best efforts to congratulate myself on a week well spent, those familiar anxious twinges started creeping in and I felt alone, overwhelmed and like there was nothing more I wanted than to go home.
So I did what any normal millennial would do and went out to find myself some Kiwi brunch to review.
One thing Auckland doesn’t struggle with providing is plenty of coffee holes to enjoy brunch, and while I could have wandered aimlessly around hoping to duck in somewhere, I pre-picked my target before jaunting in to the city.
Chuffed had got great reviews online, and willing to risk an end of afternoon rush, I memorised the route from the station to High Street. The cafe itself is tucked just off High Street, and you’d be forgiven for walking past.
I was concerned I’d missed it, despite keeping an eye out and as I walked past ‘The Coffee Club‘ I lost hope, before looking back over my shoulder to see the Chuffed sign cheerfully dangling from the walkway cover.
I tentatively wandered down towards Chuffed, seeing a couple perched outside and wondered if I really should have paid attention to online warnings about making a reservation. Thankfully at 2:45pm there was a small table outside with my name on it, and I snuck in to make myself comfy on the sheepskin stool cover.
The inside of Chuffed is a little gloomy, all dark wood and moody murals, more like walking in to a bar in the day time, but the space out the back is white, and bright. Retractable awnings keep customers safe from the temperamental Auckland weather and transformed the courtyard into a cosy haven, safe from the elements. A hidden haven, the garden space could be any bach pad backyard – it had that feeling that it had been designed by guys to be girl friendly. Remarkably, that’s not a negative for me – I liked the cosy sheep skin and the ceremonial hanging baskets. From my seat I had full view of the mural on the back wall and ivy, painted and real weaved it’s way along the wall to my left. But bar these little features, it lacked a personal warmth, functional and modern certainly, but stylishly devoid of the unique.
The staff were incredibly welcoming and seemed to be enjoying themselves, keen to engage with the customers and have a joke – even if at times it did feel like it was at your expense. They were quick with their service and delivered a smooth upsell, most interestingly there was a rather loud American sat behind me ordering coffee which was delivered to him with a warning that it was going to be 4 times as strong as the stuff he was used to in the U.S.
Fun fact, a standard serve in the U.S. there is is o.5oz coffee to the N.Z. 2oz or something like that…I can’t remember the details, but I was surprised we like our coffee stronger over here – probably something to do with the whole quality over quantity mentality American culture finds so hard to digest.
One thing I’m getting used to again, after being all over everywhere for the past 6 months is coffee served in glasses.
A huge novelty for me when I first moved to Melbourne, I’d grown to love coffee in a glass, mostly because of the way it feels holding it in your hands. There’s no denying the comforting warmth of a mug that fits your hands perfectly, clasping your fingers around the handle and drawing it up to your chest, but the perfect mug is hard to come by. With a glass, the lack of handle means every mocha is the perfect cosy mocha.
The portion sizes at Chuffed are great, and my mocha was a hearty size, without being ‘too much’. I make a rookie mistake of not asking for almond, or skinny milk and as a result it was far too milky for me. The thick taste of dairy overwhelming the chocolate or the coffee, and it was more like a half shot latte in my initial sips than a mocha. After a few quick sips I could already feel my tummy gurgling in disapproval so quickly chugged a glass of water and waited for my food.
One thing Chuffed do boast is their cold drip coffee and batch brew. Despite the coffee fanatic that I am, I have to confess that I’ve only tried batch brew coffee once before and had such a disastrous taste experience that I was convinced it was a Hipster fad they could keep. That being said, it’s not going away, and indeed I’m only finding more of my favourite coffee holes offering these batch brews.
I could already feel the caffeine jittering away in my veins so didn’t indulge on this occasion, but I am keep to come back again and give it a whirl.
I don’t dare to presume that I’m a connoisseur for eggs Benedict, but I know what I like, and after eating so many versions in so many countries, there are a few stand out things for me: the hollandaise, the runny yolk and the base.
Reading that now, that’s essentially the whole of the dish, but eggs benny is such a versatile brunch, with the base that’s chosen and the way the hollandaise is created being the main differentiating factors. Runny yolk just comes as standard as an egg well poached.
There was no bacon or ham for me today, instead I opted for avocado with my eggs, served on a bagel with two poached eggs. Initially, I thought the hollandaise was far too salty, the fork dip test yielded no discernible flavour other than salt, and I was disappointed not to taste any hint of ‘smoked tomato’. Once paired with the bagel, however the flavours exploded in my mouth, buttery and rich, almost creamy as it slid down the throat, not a hint of saltiness.
A gooey yolk is the key to a perfectly poached egg, and it can be hard to get the balance right, but runny whites are a huge turn off. The yolks were perfect, but let down by runny whites. The avocado was the perfect addition to my veggie brunch – I can’t get enough of them now I’m back in the side of the world where they’re affordable and you don’t have to remortgage your house to get one underripe fruit.
The bagel was perfect. Wonderfully soft and almost doughy as you chewed. I loved the sesame seeds – definitely underrated: I remember I used to always love sesame cobs when I was little because I assumed it had something to do with Sesame St.
Overall, this was an absolute delight! The hollandaise was some of the best I’ve tasted and despite the fact it was a bit of a ‘boys club’ I didn’t feel unwelcome. If I was still at Uni, this is definitely the kind of place I’d go in between lectures, and I could see myself whiling away a morning enjoying the sunshine in the courtyard.
I’d love to come back and try the eggs benny with some meat – give the eggs a second chance and I’d have to try the batch brew, or perhaps a cold drip coffee.
Despite my modest budget this was still an affordable treat.
Total bill: $22