Nestled on a quiet suburban street in Milford, the adorable Tiny Food Store is not quite a cafe; more like a gourmet food grocery/deli, the brick-and-mortar version of boutique catering company Sauce Catering.
Owner Kim, who started cooking and baking for a swarm of siblings at a young age and never stopped, monetised her hobby around seven years ago when she launched Sauce. While Sauce mainly caters for weddings, high teas and corporate events, Tiny Food Store targets a different kind of punter - the local foodie, the java head, the busy parent that wants homestyle cooking to grab and go, the sweet tooth, the Paleo enthusiast (the range of Paleo meals, snacks and treats Tiny offers is probably the best - and most varied - in Auckland).
Tiny's design is both cosy and clean - it's small, but light and airy thanks to liberal use of white paint and some carefully selected ceramics, knick knacks and cookbooks. There's an eclectic assortment of tables, chairs and fresh flowers outside on the little stoop.
A cabinet with a rotating range of salads, sandwiches, and baked goods and a freezer stocked with take-home meals ("Dinner is Served") fills up most of the interior. To keep up to date with daily cabinet offerings, soups and dinner menus, Like Tiny Food Store on Facebook (it's worth noting that you can get your meals delivered).
Jade and I sat outside in the sunshine and chomped our way through a bacon and egg 'tulip' with housemade feijoa chutney, an Asian slaw with salmon and crushed peanuts, and a classic chicken and leek pie. The food was excellent, as was the flat white - Tiny is one of only two places on the Shore serving Eighthirty coffee.
Kim kindly selected two frozen dinners for us to take home: a vegetarian lasagna and a Paleo-friendly chicken and mushroom casserole topped with pumpkin and beetroot mash. The portions are generous, and both meals were delicious, and, importantly, wholesome - you could eat from Tiny every night of the week and feel better for it.
Everyone needs a place like this in their neighbourhood, I think - we all love to eat at home (in bed) in winter instead of going out, and the idea of affordable and diet-friendly meals is really appealing when you don't want to cook. I'll be back for more frozen delights and the date and orange scones and brioches, which both looked amazing.
With Tiny Food Store, Kim has created an inviting space for people to come say hi, hang out and enjoy some great, lovingly made food: it gives Sauce a tangible presence and personality, which never hurts; but it's also a destination in its own right.