There are a lot of good cafés in Auckland, but after a while, they all seem very similar. Not so Garnet Station, which is packed with quirky curios and customers who seem more like relaxed house guests in the homey interior.
A slave to fashion?
I visited Garnet Station with someone who works in hospitality (as a chocolatier in fact – more exciting news about that in a blog post next week!). We chatted about the nature of trends in restaurants and how the top echelon of world restaurants work incredibly hard to stay ahead of the crowd in terms of food fashion. Innovations are invented by the very best chefs in the world, and quickly implemented by the best restaurants, followed by the most innovative of the ‘normal’ restaurants – at which point the top restaurants have already moved on to something newer. Eventually the trend is (often poorly) reproduced in the mass market.
But what does the drive to innovate do to the range and quality of what you and I dine on in New Zealand? Does it really give us interesting or better food? Or should we sometimes say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’? I can think of examples of both innovations which brought us great new flavours and experiences (how about Epic beer’s coffee stout?) and innovations which should have been left on the drawing board (instant coffee fits in this category!).
I get exhausted looking at restaurant menus which try to mix too many incoherent flavours from around the globe. Chefs – if it’s never been done before, stop and ask yourself if there’s a reason for that.
Garnet Station seems to have picked a happy medium with some popular NZ classics and some house specialities which are not so common – like the halva torte for example. They also get brownie points for looking carefully at the provenance of their ingredients.
Definitely worth taking a wander out of Ponsonby for.