Words: Catherine McGregor. Photos: Ken Downie.
A few months ago, David Lee had no intention of opening a café in Herne Bay. His Milford café, Little King, was doing a roaring trade, and the commute was easy from the Castor Bay home he shares with his wife and two young sons. But then he walked down Jervois Rd and saw that the old Buenos Aires restaurant site was for lease. “I knew straightaway that this would make a great café,” he says.
David, builder Nic Wike and joiner James McNaughton (the man behind the recent Good One refit) set to work demolishing fittings, pulling Gib board from the walls, and creating a stylish, stripped-back fitout in its place. David says they thought of the room as three separate spaces: a “grungy” counter area with rough plasterwork and industrial shelving, a more modern main dining room, and a bright, sky-lit garden conservatory at the rear. This area he plans to fill with plants of all descriptions – in fact, there are growing things all over Dear Jervois, a mix of pots (the work of David's wife Sue) and terrariums created by botanical stylist Annie Oxborough.
As for food, David says he started with the Little King menu, then added more vegan-friendly and dairy and gluten-free options. The bacon in the rich, rosemary-flecked mushrooms on toast is free-range, as is the chicken and eggs. Both the vegan tofu croquette and Be Good Vegan, a super-food-packed dish of quinoa, brown rice, beetroot, pumpkin and cashew aioli, are spiced up with kimchi, reflecting David’s Korean heritage.
But it’s not all spirulina and kale (though there’s plenty of that). The menu and cabinet are full of opportunities to indulge, including fat beef burgers and fish finger sandwiches, drool-worthy sweet waffles, and muffins, scones and loaves, fresh from the oven from 7.30am on. Suppliers include Best Ugly bagels, Six Barrel Soda and vegan bakery The Raw Kitchen. Coffee is Supreme.
It’s been open for just over a week, but Dear Jervois is already Herne Bay’s darling. Ponsonby’s sleepier cousin just got a whole lot more exciting.
Open 7 days.
234 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay. Facebook.com/DearJervois