Built in 1938, the historic building where Catalina now stands was once used by the Hobsonville Airbase for avionic repairs and communications. Nowadays, the building operates under a different guise tending less to mechanics and more to people's appetites, and I'm glad they do.
Catalina is wildly popular. On any given day, you could walk into the cafe at around lunchtime and find only one or two tables free. Although it might be quite a usual thing for a place in the city, Catalina's remote location on Hobsonville Point means that most customers are commited enough to make at least a fifteen minute drive to get there, regularly. So you know this place is good.
The building itself has nice light and open air feel about it, and for some reason every time I visit Catalina the sun shines. I'm not a meteoroligist or superstitious, I'm just telling you the way it is. Anyhow, the fresh country decor is almost enough of a warrant for the drive over. It just feels nice being at Catalina.
Obviously however there is more to Catalina than its building. For one, the staff are the #1 nicest cafe workers I have ever met in Auckland. When it's less busy they like having a chat, and the way they sincerely ask you how your meal was lets you know that they really do care.
The other and probably most important feature of this cafe is its food and coffee. The coffee is always faultless and served in quirky mismatched cup and saucers which add a nice touch. The food is incredible. This time round I had the deglazed roast chicken salad ($16.50) which comes with leaves, carrot, tomato, slaw, peppers and house dressing. My partner had a basil pesto sandwich ($8.00) with field mushroom, tomato and feta, olive oil. Top marks for both. The chicken was perfect, and all the salad ingredients had the type of freshness that made you imagine that they could've possibly picked from the local veggie patch that very morning. The basil pesto gave a tasty and surprising zing to the mushroom and feta combo. All in all we were very well fed.
This was not my first visit to Catalina nor will it be my last.