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What makes a good café? Well… great coffee and delicious food are essential – that’s a no-brainer, but what else?

I was thinking about this the other day, when the lyrics to the theme music from the American sitcom Cheers popped into my head.

“…where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came”

Saccherine they may be, but they speak to a truism – that being a regular, somewhere where you feel you’re really welcome and part of a community is a big deal – and in my opinion, that is the thing that takes a good café and elevates it to a great one.

Ok, so in practical terms that’s being recognised by the staff as you come in, perhaps having a ‘usual’ order, or being able to go in on your own and know that a friend or acquaintance might soon follow, but it’s also about the café connecting with the needs and aspirations of the community around it, and that’s something that Leigh and Ellie and the team at Wharf Road are doing really well.

Although they are usually a day-time café, they do occasional evening events and I recently went to a community fundraising dinner for our Coromandel Area School there, which raised $3,000.

In a small rural place like Coromandel Town, that’s a big deal.

The food at Wharf Road isn’t your usual NZ café food – muffins, frittata and pies; they are really taking  a vegetarian menu and exploring new flavour combinations and ‘raising the bar’ for food in the town. For example, one course at the fundraising dinner was asparagus, avocado and pickled ginger with sweet miso and blue cheese. These are not things I would usually allow on the same plate but wow! It worked beautifully…

I also really enjoyed the celeriac soup to start – it was silky and complex, served in little cups and the dessert – a buttermilk pannacotta with honeycomb and sesame crumble was divine. Honeycomb is always fun to eat – the hexagons are so perfect and the waxy texture of the comb with the sweetness of the honey is a winning combination.

So keep up the good work team… I hope Wharf Road can be my ‘regular’ for a long time to come.

PS By the way, this is an independent blog – I don’t take money from any of the cafés or restaurants I review :o)

Next time you're in Coromandel, I think you'll find a warm welcome at Wharf Road