Words LIZ FRENCH | Images BRYDIE THOMPSON
Let there be light. Let there be sunshine. Let there be an eatery that does the basics beautifully, that leans towards local. Farm Street Larder is all this and more!
Farm Street Larder, outside the north entrance to Bayfair, must be one of the lightest, brightest cafes in the Bay. Expansive windows draw sun right across the interior and huge umbrellas provide shade outside where you face an oasis of green space by the car park on the Farm Street side of the shopping centre.
Getting the location right is only part of the equation. A pleasing mix of indoor and outdoor seating, intimate and communal tables, and the beachy décor, are appealing aspects. Getting the food formula right is the vital ingredient. Owners Colleen Heath and Michael Smith know this well. Mount Maunganui locals may recognise them as former proprietors of the popular Bach Cafe in the main Mount shopping street.
Colleen’s strong catering and hospitality experience and Michael’s solid business background make then a successful partnership with complementary skills. When Bayfair was being upgraded, the centre owners, AMP, approached the couple to run a cafe in this space. Delays due to COVID saw Farm Street Larder open a little later than planned, in August, 2020, and they have been busy ever since. A few of their Bach staff followed them to Farm Street, some clocking up an amazing five years with the same employer in an industry known for being fickle.
While Colleen and Michael appreciate the business they derive from Bayfair shoppers and visitors to the region, their main focus is on their loyal locals, both customers and suppliers. This puts the focus firmly on providing excellent coffee and consistent cuisine.
The coffee was a foregone conclusion. Atomic has proven itself over many years, and the skill of baristas Cofé and Sophie do it full justice. This writer can attest to that! As soon as I heard about Farm Street Larder, I diverted my morning cycling group there for coffee. We were very happy with our lattes, just the right size and served in a glass. Later I applied a tougher test, taking my coffee connoisseur partner to Farm Street for lunch. “Good coffee,” he freely admitted.
Good food too. Good traditional Kiwi cuisine done well was the mantra in creating Farm Street’s all-day breakfast, lunch and cabinet menu. Paddock to plate is the aim wherever possible, and their commitment to sourcing local is such that they will trade a coffee or cake for produce grown by their customers. Their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint and not creating waste is genuine and demonstrable.
After the coffee, which sees regulars popping in daily on the way to work, or as a reward for their morning exercise, the most popular item on the menu is the ‘Breakfast Special’—eggs on toast and coffee for just $12 for the first two hours from 7.30 am opening. Eggs Bene is not far behind, the hollandaise sauce made on the premises of course. Preserves and jam are genuinely home-made, all meals and cabinet food prepared from scratch in the kitchen, with the exception of bread supplied by Volare. In putting a modern twist to Kiwi recipes from the past, Farm Street serves good old mince on toast. “Something we’ve had to explain to our non-New Zealand customers, but they love it once they try it,” laughs Colleen.
As the days get cooler, pasta will be popular and home-made soups added to the lunchtime menu. As the days get shorter, the winter rays will get lower and continue to flood Farm Street Larder in light and sunshine, enhancing the feel-good factor of an eatery that keeps it simple, fresh and friendly.
Farm Street Larder
Outside Bayfair off Farm Street