Auckland, there’s something you should know. A hot new food trend is shaking up the city’s café scene and it’s abso-friggen-lutely delicious.
We’re talking about Russian food, people! It’s a thing—and a very delicious thing indeed. Yep, that’s right. Meadowbank newcomer Moloko (translation: milk) is putting a Russian twist on café fare and the result is incredible. Allow us to explain.
Tucked away in the friendly East Auckland suburb, Moloko is on the fast-track to becoming your new favourite café. Firstly, there’s an abundance of parking available (something of paramount importance in Auckland!). Secondly, the décor, service and food are all second to none.
Outside, you’ll find wooden seating for al fresco dining—and yes, dogs are welcome. Bouquets of fresh flowers sit pretty next to the front door and are the perfect gift for your brunch date (hint, hint).
The light, bright and beautiful theme continues inside. There’s wood in every direction: the tables, chairs, counter and floor. Cushioned seating runs down the length of the café, pendant lights hang from the high ceiling and a wall-mounted roll of paper showcases the bevvy menu.
At the helm of the café, you’ll find Kiwi chef Lee Mason and his Russian partner Lina Vanifatova. They’ve combined their powers to create one of the most mouth-watering menus in Auckland. And they certainly know their stuff—Lee’s background includes a whopping 15 years as a private chef and seven years living and working in Russia.
Lee goes above and beyond to serve irresistible food. No shortcuts are made with all sauces, pastries, breads and salads handcrafted from scratch by Lee and his team. Better yet, the seasonal menu changes every six to eight weeks so you’ve got an excuse to visit on the regular!
Moloko prides itself on a well-balanced menu of both traditional Kiwi brekkies and those a little more Russian-esque. Yep, all bases covered with granola, Best Ugly Bagels, eggs bene (served on crispy polenta, might we add) and an all-important avo feta smash up for grabs.
Those with a sweet tooth will relish at Moloko’s Russian-inspired pancakes. The secret ingredients of ricotta and tvorog Russian cheese creates plump delights that are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside—pancake perfection, right? They’re served with grilled banana, seasonal fruit, sour cream and a generous dollop of lemon honey. This is pancakes at their finest.
If you’ve got a hearty appetite, the bolshoy breakfast (aka big breakfast) is a must-try. This bad boy stars all the usual suspects: pork and fennel sausages, bacon, eggs, bread, tomato and mushrooms. However, what makes it unique is the addition of succulent beef shashlik (kebabs), sauerkraut and house-made chutney—yum!
The parsnip and potato hash is also a crowd-favourite starring beetroot salad, baba ganoush, grilled halloumi and a perfectly poached egg. Personally, we can’t go past the tortilla omelette (yes, this dish combines two of the best foods) served with caramelised onions, crispy potato skins and flavoursome Romesco sauce.
If you’re feeling adventurous, the pelmeni (Russian lamb dumplings) with mushrooms, garlic yoghurt and herb salad has got your name written all over it. Alternatively, go for borsch—a vibrant Russian beet soup that will warm you from the inside out on chilly winter days.
Wash it all down with an expertly brewed Eighthirty coffee—seriously, their brews are caffeinated perfection! There are also refreshing smoothies, matcha and turmeric lattes and award-winning kvas (a popular fermented drink in Russia similar to kombucha).
Better yet, Moloko is a hop, step and a jump from the Meadowbank train station—making it the ideal spot to grab coffee and lunch on the go. The cabinet is brimming with mouth-watering goodies—many of which are gluten-free—also handmade daily. Think pies, frittata, scones, banana bread and decadent chocolate brownie.
Thanks for giving Aucklanders a taste of Russia, Moloko! You’re on to a very good—and delicious—thing. We’ll be eating our way through your menu again and again and again…
Image credit: Kellie Blizard