Escape Auckland…which is what most people choose to do this time of year. However, a group of us decided not to break Friday morning tradition and headed out for breakfast. Even though it was the holiday season, five of us; two unlucky enough to still be working, two non-natives who did not know any better, and one who was partnerless for the first time over the holiday and just did not know what else to do, headed out.
Because of the holidays time was both for us and against us. For us because most of us did not have to rush off to work; against us because it could be quite difficult to find an open café let alone one that opens by 7 am. For these reasons we strayed from our normal Waterfront/Parnell/Newmarket selections and ventured all the way to Mount Eden and Escape Café.
Escape is located at 401 Mount Eden Road. We were the first customers of the morning, and although the staff did not look particularly thrilled, I believe it had to do with working over the holidays rather than the fact we were cyclists. There were a couple of tables out front, a few inside and a large courtyard in the back. We choose the sunny front tables, but I am sure the courtyard provides a nice setting in the not-so-great winter months. Although most of the group have been to Escape for coffee, breakfast was a new experience. The menu was not huge but presented some alternatives to the standard Auckland café offerings. Each person had a different item, which shows that more than just a handful of items looked appetizing.
Around the table were the standard bagel and cream cheese and poached eggs on toast, and the not so standard potato pancake with mushrooms and hollandaise sauce, blueberry pancakes, and an omelette with spinach cheese and pesto. It was obvious that some attention goes into food presentation as sauces and colours were used well. Regarding taste, reactions were mostly positive except for a slightly too sweet pancake and a slightly underpowered pesto. As for coffee, it seemed to be lattes all around this morning. The lattes were good enough for everyone to have a second. Good enough are probably the key words since my personal opinion is that they were not hot enough - but that seems to be a problem for all Auckland cafés, not just Escape.
Prices were standard Auckland prices; food items from $8 - $15 and $3 - $3.50 for coffee. Overall, Escape is solid and a worthy destination for pre or post-ride coffee and breakfast.
By Ben Miller