Kokako Café, 537 Great North Road, Grey Lynn
I’ve spent a fair amount of time fantasising about starting up my own café. Countless hours have been invested in picturing the perfect decor – solid wood tables adorned with potted hydrangeas and herbs, hip industrial lamps provided for the magazine browsers, walls accentuated with salvage yard finds and gorgeous relics. It would have a friendly neighbourhood vibe, the room light-bathed and unpretentious. The food would make produce the star while offering some exciting and unorthodox dishes.
I’m sure many people have spent this amount of energy imagining their dream café and I would wager that Mike Murphy is one of them. His new home of Kokako is situated in the refurbished Post Office building in Grey Lynn and it is every bit the aforementioned café of my dreams. I hardly got through the front door before my heart squeezed up with joy.
The heart of Kokako’s roasting business is to the left of the hydrangeas, in front of the recycled auto-parts crate and behind the row of locally produced aluminium stools. Patrons can drink in the smell of fresh organic beans as they wait for their flat white, bathing in the light of ceiling-high windows. Reclaimed French-style shutters open out to the street front and give passers-by a peek inside. This is my café heaven.
If you think this is all a bit gushing, I dare you to challenge my judgement after sampling their menu. With such heart-throbs as whole organic egg pasta with mushroom ragout, ricotta hotcakes with fig compote and maple syrup – or my favourite, the organic pumpkin fritters, served with pickled beetroot and goat’s curd. I’ve asked Mike and Head Chef Adam Van Schravendyk to tell me a little more about this dish, so that you don’t just have to take my word for it.
Can you tell me a little about the suppliers for the ingredients?
Our goats’ cheese comes from Epicurean Dairy. The beetroot is certified organic and comes from a grower in Dargaville, whilst the certified organic pumpkin is grown by Whitfield Growers in the central North Island. The crisp bread comes from artisan bakers Pukeko in Auckland.
How do you prepare the dish?
We pickle the beetroot ourselves. We incorporate buttermilk with the goats’ cheese to obtain the right texture for the curd (we’re still looking for the right supplier to keep up with our demands). The fritter is quite simple – it contains pumpkin, organic chickpea flour and organic free range eggs and a little basil combined to get the right texture.
Why do you think these ingredients work so well together?
The flavours are really a classic combo with earthiness along with the sweet and sour of the pickled beetroot to round things off. As all of these ingredients are in season at the moment, we are able to obtain the best that we can from what we are using.
Grey Lynn coffee lovers can follow their nose to the café and roastery from 7am, Monday to Saturday, with Sunday openings in the pipeline. Serving a range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free drinks and treats, the staff are happy to offer something for your little ones too. I’m sure it is soon to become everyone’s local.