L'assiette Cafe & Bistro, Auckland CBD
I am amazed that the pastries are flown in frozen from the French Republic to this delightful gathering place ( a bistro, cafe and bakery all in one) located in Brittomart beside Auckland Harbour. Ah, the wonders and marvels of air travel - and regular flight connections. "Bonjour" - my niece and I were greeted when we sat down for a quick pick me up at the L'assiette before 8am. The dining room is not big but reminds me of an Euro rustic setting with a modern Pacific twist. Perhaps it is the design of the chairs. This is not Tahiti nor Paris but the closest Kiwiland gets to such settings.
Once I bit into the crust of my pastry, I felt the crunchiness, light buttery and aroma on my palate. There is an extra feeling of specialness. Coupled with the nippy air outside, it is a moment to relish. It is not just the ingredients, it must be the baking and the ambiance too. French speaking staff walk around. Our coffee orders come so fast, good for the morning rush hour and they set a high level of blended bean quality. And then there is a Hersheys kiss anointing each cup. All very good when it is cold but fresh outside on an early Auckland winter's morning!
Highly talked about are the Gallettes Bretton available at this lovely hideaway and yet accessible to business world professionals, families, couples and tourists alike. I understand these are its signature offerings - the round shaped buckwheat savoury crepes are served here with options like sausage, bacon, salmon Gravlax, mushroom or ham. And of course they are garnished with egg, Gruyere, Creme Fraiche, mustard or Tartiflette. Tartiflette, interesting enough, originated from ski stations in France and is a gratin made with lardons, Reblochon cheese, onions and of course, potatoes.
I saw the delicate and colourful macaroons waiting in their display - oh yes, it is too early for such more sugary delights. Always something for high tea rather than breakfast. There is a rush of customers enjoying the offerings of the place when we sat down, but later in mid-morning, when I happened to walk past the place, they did have a quiet moment, after office business has settled in for the day in the nearby buildings.
Adelyn and I had chose the apple crumble and croissant pastries, one with gratifying chocolate filling. They are not over the top rich and provided more taste than sweet. Our coffee orders came a bientot - despite the crowd. L'assiette - plate, the course of a meal, roughly translated. In this L'assiette in Auckland, the experience means more - a warm serving, a place like home, the course of an enjoyable experience. I understand that breakfast is more Kiwi and lunch or dinner is more classic French.
Baguettes accompany two loved iconic dishes at lunch or dinner time - the Pot-au-Feu and the Beef Bourguignon, both beef based creations. If you are having dinner there, check out the Asian pork belly served with potato puree.
My current breakfast weakness, Eggs Benedict, is made here with either Akaroa Salmon or bacon or for the vegetarians, mushrooms. The lovely outpost of Akaroa, just outside Christchurch, is a time capsule with roads referred to as Rue and the hint of maritime adventure round the next corner as you walk its rustic seaside lanes. True to its French inspiration, there is no problem in having the Croque Madame or the Croque Monsieur! This Croque - grilled ham and cheese sandwiches - come with an option for Béchamel sauce and are labelled Madame once you add a poached egg or omelette on top.
What I hope to try though the next time there is the Le Grand breakfast, with Provencal tomato, sausage, bacon, Pommes Dauphines, mushroom, eggs and sourdough.
L'assiette Cafe & Bistro is located at the Atrium on Takutal at No. 9 Britomart Place, Auckland Harbour with the nearest cross road being Scene Lane.
Telephone: 659 3090961
Opening hours: 7am till late every day.