In the former home of burger and bun invention kitchen, Burger Lab, now lies a cafe that kicks it back to good, simple fare with a lineup of cabinet treats and classic baked goods. The latter take up an entire side of the Herne Bay eatery, with "sensibly-sized" afghans, Russian fudge, peanut brownies and lemon loaf on display against an exposed brick wall.
The accessible and comforting eats are the bread and butter of the owners Logan Harris and Dee Grant. In their spare time the pair also run the Bacio catering company, servicing private and corporate functions with club sandwiches and cheese scones. The permanent space, which can be found at 212 Jervois Road in the heart of Herne Bay's brunching scene, is an extension of that.
Despite only popping up last November, the cafe feels like it's been around for a while. During this particular visit one regular could be heard raving about yesterday's salad. Logan's extensive front of house experience (Prego, Cafe Hanoi, and Ostro) is immediately apparent, welcoming customers into the space with projection and making small talk when not stuck behind the coffee machine with his milk jug, "Juggalo". The kitchen staff have an equal measure of experience, coming from Mary's up the road and Dee's previous venture, Casetta.
As well as the cabinet goods and an oven full of pies, there is an a la carte menu of salads and lunch fare. The list currently presents all-day items like a grilled haloumi and dukkah salad with mushrooms, broccolini and poached egg, and the comforting homemade baked beans with bacon lardons, poached egg and shaved pecorino.
Tipping their hat to the former owners, there are two burgers on the menu: fried chicken and a classic cheeseburger. The cheeseburger is a fresh take on the classic using extraordinarily crisp ingredients. Gladstone Butchery provides the majority of the meat including house-cured bacon, while former Auckland Council member Greg Moyle often provides fresh greens straight from his garden. Elsewhere, the kitchen makes everything fresh, including pickles, chutneys, pastries, you name it.
To wash it all down there's coffee from Supreme, Six Barrel Soda, smoothies and your usual cafe classics.