In an early recollection of a walk about Auckland, I wrote into the itinerary a mention of two wonderful cafés; the kind that make people’s to-do lists when they travel. I’m not a big fan of writing Top 10 lists, even as I do like reading them for quick tips. That’s what it is, a quick tip of ten things, and I somehow couldn’t quite fit that into my writing – not after having been a writer for a few years in a magazine, where top 10 things become your everyday go-to and become quite tiresome to think about after awhile.
So I’m letting go of that, you’d have to pardon me, while I recollect what it is I love so much about Shed 5: recollecting memories and feelings to properly put them into words; to think about the Britomart Country Club: its “Longest Drink In Town” milkshake, and shivering slightly in the sparsely heated outdoor seating in quite possibly 10 degree weather while being absolutely happy.
This is an absolute cliché to write if ever, and unashamedly so: Shed 5 is a really cool place. I don’t say it like I’m one of the cool kids, in fact, quite the opposite. I’m the geek who got a peek (wordplay alert!) at where the cool kids hang out, who got invited to the party, where they didn’t know anybody and certainly not the hip hop songs on the stereo. Shed 5 is like that place for me.
For one thing, it’s full of motorcycles. Secondly, it’s full of vintage, collectible motorcycles. I couldn’t describe to you two things about a motorbike other than wheels and – well, so it’s just the one thing. So that leaves me nothing else but its very solid café to talk about.
While my partner, a motorcycle buff, spent his time looking at all the wonderful things the shed had to offer, I took pictures of our breakfast, and our coffee, served by a kind, apologetic, wonderful man who told me to put my camera away. The owner had an auction coming up and couldn’t risk pictures being leaked, and I always get embarrassed for getting told not to take pictures, like getting a back-of-the-hand spank – embarrassing; not like a bold slap or a good beating you deserve, something you take in with pride for a lesson endured and learnt. No – this is embarrassing, without the blushing, and I meekly oblige, thinking how on earth I could’ve ever been so daring as to take pictures in somebody else’s place!
Ah, but Shed 5 is so cool. You just can’t help it. They do serve a mean cup of coffee, and that’s good enough to soothe the embarrassment, and a jolly breakfast to fill you up for the ride out ahead into your day, right as rain.
Then of course right in the middle of your October afternoon it does rain a little. This is, after all, Auckland. You’re shopping in Britomart and thinking of a place to stop in, and if it’s also a Monday then the stars are all aligned for you to check in at the Britomart Country Club. My partner and I, shivering and hungry, took one look at the $10 light bites and pizza special, and I think this really happened, telekinetically high-fived each other. He might disagree, because nobody high-fives anymore and everybody does fist-bumps now.
In any case, the club took us in, sat us down, and fed us well. We had the margarita chilli crust squid with coriander, mint and palm sugar and lime dipping sauce (NZ$14) – better than any I’ve tasted in awhile. The fried batter is heavenly, not greasy at all, and clung to the squid ever so gently, whilst the lime dipping sauce sharply complimented the dish like a ball gown to a tuxedo.
The grilled lamb loin served with rustic tapenade and avocado salsa (NZ$18) was a forkful of pleasure, so good it should have its own rules on how to eat it. One: patch a slice of lamb to your fork. Two: dab some avocado salsa onto the lamb. Three: slide the combo through the tapenade. Four: fit the fork into your mouth, exit, and chew. Swallow, enjoy.
And finally, the Flamboro Downs (a horse-racing reference which I don’t get): venison with caramelised onion, haloumi, mushrooms and cranberry sauce (NZ$32). Now you can have this every Monday at ten dollars and be very happy, or you can have this every day of the week and be absolutely overjoyed. For a person who doesn’t like the sweet-savoury mix, I dig this like Eminem digs Dr. Dre. I just really love it. It’s a winning combination that marries really rich flavours perfectly without overpowering each one. Bliss.
BCC, if you’re lucky and live in Auckland, has plenty more on its menu to offer, which is kinda unfair because when we do go back, there’s also Velvet Burger to return to, and the Northern Steamship Co., and just not enough space in the tummy. But I think, as we always do, we’ll find a way.