Charlie & George
An American dineresque cafe which delivers thoughtful interpretations of all the usual cafe classics.
Charlie & George is a surprisingly charming cafe out in the newly developed landscape of Stonefields. Lovingly named after the owners' two sons, this cafe hits a wonderful combination of what is 'on-trend' in Auckland cafes, with a slight influence of American diner decor and cuisine, and a homey vibe.
The menu consists of thoughtful interpretations of all the usual cafe classics. Our pick of the brunch menu was the eggs benedict ($18), which was presented as a large stack with two english muffins, a layer of home made hash-browns, sheets of tasty herb-cured salmon, two poached eggs and a generous coat of hollandaise sauce. This meal is both well constructed - the stack makes it easy to get a satisfying mouthful of everything at once - and well balanced - the addition of hash brown into this dish provides an earthy balance to the richness of the rest of the dish. While the hollandaise did not knock my socks off, the salmon tasted fresh and the eggs were perfectly placed for the yolk to spread over and infuse deliciously with the rest of the meal.
There are a number of americana-inspired dishes on the menu including: corn and chicken waffles ($19.50), which is a stack of three savoury corn waffles with spicy chicken, rocket salad, Crème fraîche and tomato relish, and the New York hot dog ($16), with sauerkraut chopped onion, pickle relish, mustard and ketchup and a side of fries (although they do no specify whether they are french fries or freedom fries). As you would expect in an American diner, the serving sizes are generous. They have a decent range of vegetarian and gluten-free options, and meat supplied by Freedom Farms. In the cabinet they have a bunch of hearty $9 sandwiches in panini bread, salads ($10 for small, $14 for large), cakes and sweet treats that are all available to take away.
The majority of drinks on offer at Charlie & George are organic, including Kokako coffee, the Karma Cola range ($4.50), and the Somage teas ($4). They do espresso-based and cold brew coffee using the tasty but delicate Aotea blend from Kokako, which makes coffee with soft, light flavours.
The decor is both trendy and eclectic, with mismatched wooden chairs, a neon sign in one corner and a cosy bench seat in the other. The atmosphere is a good blend of homey and cool thanks also to the awesome staff and a sweet soundtrack that plays quietly in the background (while we were there we heard Strawberry Letter 23, Wonderful World and a bit of early Michael Jackson). Charlie & George is a car ride away from central city Aucklanders, but there is plenty of free parking available, even on a weekday.