22 Melrose St
(09) 378 9416
Monday - Friday
7.30am - 3.30pm
8am - 3pm
It’s down the very end of Melrose, set back from the street, and only the golden doors hint at what’s inside. This is L’affare’s first Auckland cafe, which is a surprise considering the company has been around for 26 years. Aucklanders are generally more familiar with the supermarket side of the brand, and so L’affare Melrose has arrived to show us its classier, artisan side.
The fit-out, a collaboration between Nott Architects and Gas Project, breaks up the giant warehouse space beautifully. It has a mid-century modernist feel, with deep green leather banquettes and wood paneling, round booths and brass details. There is a roaster on-site – used for specialty coffee only – and tall shelves filled with brewing equipment, next to a long bar with a built in cabinet filled with sandwiches and pastries, made fresh on-site each day.
My favourite thing about L’affare Melrose is the menu from chef Luke Adams. A few weeks ago I had a craving for eggs benedict and couldn’t think where to go. Auckland cafes are doing a wonderful job of offering unique and exotic breakfast options, but it seems the old favourites have been forgotten. Adam’s menu has all of my favourite things: scrambled eggs, mince on toast, omelettes, eggs benedict served on english muffins… Each dish with a subtle twist or addition that makes the old seem new. The scrambled eggs are truffled, the benedict is served with house-cured salmon, the omelette is filled with spanner crab, or wild mushroom and gorgonzola. It’s a joy to see a menu like this, with the kind of dishes I could come back for every Saturday, and never get tired of.
The cafe is open for lunch, too, and there are larger dishes including a coffee-rubbed cheeseburger with provolone and fries, and stuffed duck confit with chorizo and potato mash. My stomach rumbles at the thought. I only wish it were open for dinner, I’d love to see what Luke Adams would do with that.
As you’d expect, being coffee specialists, the coffee at L’affare is exceptional: fruity, smooth long blacks and rich flat whites, bottomless filter coffee and cold brew – it’s all here and it’s all very well done. There are also chef’s special smoothies, cold pressed juices, a short, lovely wine list and a handful of craft beer options.
L’affare Melrose is just the kind of cafe I’ve been dreaming of lately. It has an effortlessness to it that makes sitting here, meeting here, eating here, a pleasure. It’s a cafe for people who like to see low key and high quality in the same sentence – the kind of place that becomes your everyday local.