There are few more relaxing ways to spend a weekend morning than by enjoying a scone and coffee while poring over the paper or a good book. That might explain the popularity of cafes tucked away in libraries, and Johnsonville's Common Ground is one of the nicest you'll find in town.
Sam Huy and Andy Little are the men behind the cafe in the shiny Waitohi hub, which opened in December 2019. And having run the popular Clark's Cafe in the central library before the building closed, the duo know exactly what it takes to make a library cafe click.
In tune with the rest of the Waitohi complex, Common Ground is fresh, slick and incredibly inviting. The fit-out exudes Scandinavian vibes and spotless white surfaces add to the refreshing sense of light and space. It's both wide open and intimate, and on this Sunday morning visit the place was humming with life.
The food, as expected, proved to be worthy of such an eatery. The Big Brekkie ($21) is very reasonably priced, the portions are generous and it's packed with a strong mix of flavours. Highlights include the rashers of crispy bacon, the pesto mushrooms, and Common Ground's housemade spicy potato cake. You also get grilled tomatoes, cheese kranskies and eggs your way on beautifully toasted ciabatta, all accompanied by a zesty tomato relish.
We would have loved to have tried all the other dishes in one sitting but had to settle on adding only the creamy garlic mushrooms on toast ($14.50) to our order. As with the Big Brekkie, these mushrooms are done to a beautifully creamy consistency, carrying a nice garlicky punch and topped with slivers of spring onion for a pretty neat contrast of flavours.
Common Ground's partnership with Flight Coffee means you're guaranteed an excellent brew to go with your brunch, and we've made a note to properly try the cabinet food next time. We sampled some of the sweet slices on offer and 'heavenly' is an apt descriptor. Common Ground is already proving to be one of the most popular spots in the Waitohi hub — don't be surprised if it becomes one of Johnsonville's biggest drawcards this year.