We all have our favorite haunts to meet friends or dine out – mine are scattered about in numerous places, magnets that draw me back time and again. My current number one is The Hungry Elephant vegan/vegetarian cafe in Matakana, a leisurely one hour’s drive up north of Auckland in Rodney – it offers that full spectrum immersion in all of the essentials: great food; the company of friends; uniquely peaceful atmosphere; beaming staff. The latter are like family and their heartfelt greeting and warmth are always going to be the foundation for a great meal.
I usually order the burger option plus garden salad, most predictable customer ever, maybe an almond tecchino chaser. I quickly succumb when dessert is mentioned, a landslide of indulgence, opt for the raw blackberry cheesecake and sample the vegan ice-cream. OK, a small chai tea also.
Come summertime and there is a beautiful outdoors seating space, persimmon trees laden with their beautiful orange orbs of fruit, even a waterfall down in the nearby stream. You can sprawl about on your choice of those oaken chairs while the staff fuss about, pander to your eccentricities. Head chef Shouri’s lunchtime hotpots are also perennial favorites and I’ve been known to shamelessly queue jump to secure a last portion.
On a trial breakfast there recently I was steered by a staff member towards a newly launched in-house cereal, all my hesitations overwhelmed by a salvo of irresistible affirmatives: ‘vegan’, ‘gluten-free,’ nutrient dense’, ‘ organic’, ‘prana rich’, ‘super food’, ‘colon cleanse’, then jokingly, peering at this customers thinning locks….’hair restorative’ (that won me over). I poked about for a while, scrutinizing chia seeds, goji berries, soaked muscatels, ground flax seed, almond milk – delicious!
There’s a shop as well and you can potter about and update your knowledge of nutrition, explore a range of genuine superfoods, summon your intentions to live to 100 years! It’s totally different from anything in the usual cafes and restaurants in Auckland – but you come away feeling really peaceful without even knowing why. I rate the Hungry Elephant right up there – a five star.
Take a peek here: http://hungryelephant.nz/