'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Try out the Punnet Cafe

A week or so ago my daughter and I dropped in for lunch at the Punnet Cafe, on the outskirts of Hamilton.
This is a newly opened cafe.   It is in the style of the urban trendy corrugated-iron, hard-edged, black-decor type, but softened and made very inviting with chunky wooden tables and lots of windows.  But with a difference: this one sits in an area of new lifestyle blocks of land, right in the middle of a strawberry farm.  A delightful country setting and, on the day we visited, a good number of people were also enjoying the brilliant and warm August sunshine slanting in through the windows.

My daughter had eggs benedict which she assured me was very nice indeed and not too tangy as they can be. There were two softly poached eggs on a bed of spinach with salmon, bacon and the addition of New Zealand watercress green garnish  added a pleasant peppery bite. 

I had a salmon egg scramble.  A generous serving of smoked salmon with scrambled egg, capers and feta and some herbs, and again some small delicate watercress leaves.  Very tasty and a nice balance of flavours, although perhaps I would have enjoyed a little more of the herbal tones coming through.

The décor was inviting and themed around the strawberry red / black and green.  I noticed attention had been paid to a common problem with high ceilings - echo and noisiness of chairs on floors.  Black baffles had been discretely added to some parts of the ceiling between the rafters.  There was certainly no excess noise and combining the space and airiness, the cafe has a warm and cosy atmosphere.

An outside courtyard will be a great place to eat once the seasons turn and the temperatures rise.  It will be good to see the large wooden herb planters full and overflowing with culinary herbs for use in the kitchen.  A pleasing, unpretentious touch.  

The prices reflected the boutique nature of this cafe. (Eggs benedict $17, salmon scramble $16).  

The wait staff were approachable and obliging without being over-familiar.   All in all, a fine lunch in most agreeable surroundings.  

Punnet Cafe comes with a story.  It has arisen from the 'ashes' of a disaster, but is worth regular visits in its own right and should prove to be just the right thing for owner Gary McMahon to have done, despite the initial urgent incentive.
Tamahere Forum article


  1. How much did Gary McMahon give you to write this post? ...Mind you, the food looked great and the atmosphere sounded delightful. If McMahon gives me a 25% discount we will certainly drop in some time in January 2012. No autographs though.

  2. Oh YP, you are a one. We, on the other hand, would be delighted to take you there when you come over. I want to try out the rack of lamb.

  3. Elizabeth31.8.10

    This all looks very nice, Katherine, but its a bit worrying that this gentleman could make such a mistake and then go on to have charge of a cafe kitchen. I hope he's not so careless there! x

  4. Anonymous1.9.10

    Hi K, Sue S here, you used to live not that far from me :) I called in but you weren't home a month or so ago! I remembered this blog and thought I would make contact! By the way, that cafe is not far from where my sis lives :)

  5. Elizabeth - It would be out of the question to have sprays kept on the cafe premises. Mr McMahon employs excellent chefs and wait staff.

    Sue - I'm so sorry to have missed you! Was just thinking about you the other day, too! We must have a catch-up soon. Please would you email me on Katherine dot Dechevalle at gmail.com?

  6. Hamilton is not a place to which I venture but I would be tempted to make the detour on the way North for a visit. I love eateries like that.

  7. You're up early Geeb! What's on the agenda for you today I wonder? Croissants to begin, praps? Just don't inhale, like I did with my last one.

  8. Elizabeth3.9.10

    That wasn't quite what I meant, Katherine. I apologise if I upset you with my comment. I have no doubts, whatsoever, that this is an excellent, well-run establishment.

  9. Oh Elizabeth, no problem. I was not in the least upset. But I just wanted to emphasise to any potential customers that Gary's mistake in spraying his strawberries was the reason for him starting up the cafe, and he was light-years away from making a similar mistake in the kitchen.

    I've had a number of emails from people wanting to know more about the cafe.