Have you been to Howick lately? As a long time West Aucklander, I hadn't and was shocked to see how it's come along in the last 5 or so years - a culinary destination worthy of inclusion in Auckland's continually improving hospitality scene.
Now it even has a raw food cafe, just like Ponsonby, Parnell and every other cashed up suburb in the city. Raw HQ sits just off Howick's main street, sporting cabinet food and takeaway goodies developed by clinical nutritionist Debbie Buddie. A little unassuming from the outside, the space is more interesting once you enter, with cabinets and shelves stuffed with cakes and bags of raw treats as well as a massive greenhouse-esque device along its back wall.
Debbie tells me this is her wheatgrass grower, which allows her to cultivate her own grass year round inside the cafe. Nifty. Next to it, sits another contraption of contorted glass vases and tubes, which is apparently a cold brew coffee apparatus. So she's got all the gears, but what's her cooking like? In short, rather delightful.
We had the tahini zucchini salad, featuring a medley of vegetables, zucchini noodles and a slightly sweet dressing ($12); the vegetarian pad Thai, featuring more zucchini noodles, mushrooms, carrots and a lemony pad Thai-ish sauce ($15). It was all served in brown takeaway boxes with plastic forks. The tahini salad was reasonably tasty, but needed something else to liven it up a bit, while the vege pad Thai was delicious, covered in a thick, tasty sauce and laced with delicious raw mushrooms. While I'm not sure she's swayed me from a regular pad-Thai, Debbie's certainly created an interesting and delicious variation. Afterwards we washed it all down with two flat whites, which were perfectly made and plenty strong. If you're not in the mood for a coffee there's also a range of cold pressed juices available.
Next was dessert, a chocolate swirl cheesecake made with coconut oil, cacao and raw unadulterated happiness. This thing was one of the tastiest raw treats I've ever eaten, measuring up to the delights served up at the Raw Kitchen on Ponsonby Road, who've set the raw-bar high.
While it may not be worth the massive drive from West Auckland, Raw HQ is a tasty, healthy option if you're in the area and have a craving for cold brew coffee, and phenomenal raw baking.