Sunday, 2 August 2009

Surprisingly good cafe on the North Shore - Solstice

We have had so many 'average' cafe experiences on the North Shore that we have all but given up on brunching in this area and tend to end up in Grey Lynn, Ponsonby or Herne Bay. Today we wanted to swing by the ice-breaker outlet store and as I had wasted the morning recovering from a hateful migraine that graced my head upon waking, we figured we'd risk somewhere new on the shore.

So we headed to Solstice - 30 Kell drive, Albany - little alley way right in the village, beside the library. I knew about it as I was on the mailing list from Mosaik - I'm not entirely sure about the history here, but I believe Solstice was set up by the owner (ex?) of Mosaik.

The setting was lovely, the service friendly and there was definitely some consistent staff training evident.

We both had trim lattes (and I then also had a long black). Coffee was strong and good quality.

Simon had the Tuscan beef stack - this was nicely presented, had a gorgeous char-grilled flavour, the salad was nice, overall a great dish. (Personally I thought the beef a little too cold, but Simon thought it was fine, although he did comment it was closer to blue than the requested rare).
I had the Seafood Chowder. This was really nice, appropriately rich, without being unpleasantly so, full of good size chunks of seafood. My only comment on this though, I would have liked to have seen it served with a piece of ciabatta or similar - this would have taken it from being a lovely chowder to being a great lunch. It just seemed a little incomplete - and I do find chowder benefits from having a piece of bread to break up the creamy richness.
We kind of shared an Apple Tarte Tatin - this was quite sweet (mostly due to the butterscotch sauce I think), but very nice, and the vanilla bean ice cream with it was delicious.

We would order all of these dishes again.

Other observations
Attention to detail was pretty good - we had lovely stemmed water glasses, and we wondered whether these would get refilled, and yes they did, with a small, but excusable delay. The menu was laid out beautifully, and unlike so many places we seem to visit on the shore, it was clean! Prices were also very reasonable.

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