Mar 3, 2016 Cafes
Want to fit in on K’Rd? Take a lesson from Emma Lyell and Tane Williams and their awaited cafe, Bestie.
The marble floor has been laid in St Kevins Arcade (the fancy Italian tiles I told you about in January) and it seems like another place entirely. It’s still not quite finished, and neither are some of the empty spaces at its rough edges, meaning the entire former Alleluya atrium feels spacious and just the right amount of polished. Corporate and soulless are two words I’m glad I can’t use to describe the new cafe that has replaced Peter Hawkesby’s K’Rd institution.
Former Coco’s Cantina employee Emma Lyell and Metro illustrator Tane Williams have modeled the cafe on their favourite place in London, the Tow Path Cafe in De Beauvoir Town. They initially described it to me by way of one of its signature dishes: a simple bruschetta made magical with exceptional tomatoes and the best olive oil you’d ever tasted.
Despite never having visited, it’s easy to understand the vibe: canal-side, bunting, a pavement blackboard menu inviting parents and toddlers, runners and professionals to stay for a cheese toastie. A version of that toastie – good cheese, spring onions, quince jelly – can be found at Bestie, alongside a menu of classy comfort food: creamed butter beans with egg, sourdough and crispy bacon; crushed spice lentils with labne, flatbread and herbs; slow cooked beef brisket and fresh cream corn. I had one of the lighter dishes on my visit, house smoked salmon with endive, which came with translucent slithers of apple, horseradish, labne and walnut pieces. It was subtly bitter, sour and creamy all at once. A good old fashioned gooey-in-the-middle, crispy-on-the-outside-brownie baked that morning by head chef Nicole Standage ensured I left on the greedy-side of satisfied.
To drink there’s Metro‘s People’s Choice 2015 coffee favourite eighthirty in the grinder, Master Milkshake syrups on the shelf and the Karma Cola range in the fridge – all “friendly” brands that make perfect sense in this sunny, welcoming cafe. The decor is understated and charming, with deep green foliage dotted about the cafe floor and fresh flowers popping against exposed concrete walls and strawberry milkshake-pink paint. The service is so friendly, and the atmosphere somehow just right, a relief when there was for a while a fear that St Kevs would lose its approachable spirit. Alleluya!
St Kevins Arcade
179/183 Karangahape Rd