A new cafe at Mount Maunganui doesn’t have to look far for customers – with hundreds of locals living ‘vertically’ a stone’s throw away.
Number 8, on the ground floor of The Pacific Apartments in Maunganui Road, is flanked by other high rise buildings with the many residents providing a ready clientele. But the fully licensed cafe offers much to draw diners from further afield, starting with surroundings that are simple, modern and spacious - with both indoor and outdoor dining (in a flagged courtyard that catches the sun).
The operators, who came to Tauranga from Whangarei, are maitre’ d Ashleigh Gardner and partner Levi Stanbridge - whose chef skills have been honed in restaurants like Vivace in downtown Auckland. The pair aim to serve ‘real food,’ as Ashleigh terms it, pointing to all the ‘frills and fancy pieces’ you can be served up in some restaurants, without necessarily getting value for money.
Number 8 - connected to the lobby - is more restaurant than cafe, when it comes to a menu that offers loads of choice – including hot and cold tapas priced from $7. The evening menu which starts from 5 pm, features Pacific Rim-type dishes (for want of a better term, says Ashleigh) like Levi’s noted ‘quick smoked then pan seared’ venison. It comes on kumara rounds with creamed leak and red onion confit.
Popular dishes drawing patrons back include the Number 8 Real Big Breakfast ($24), with lamb cutlets, breakfast sausage, bacon and eggs, potato, mushrooms...and more! Another favourite is a somewhat nostalgic-sounding burger – which features bacon and beef, beetroot, egg, iceberg lettuce and ‘Nana’s condensed milk mayo.’
Ashleigh and Levi say when the opportunity to open in The Pacific Apartments came up from owner Philip Lindsey, they didn’t have to think twice.
But although the cafe can seat over 60, they aim for fewer to avoid what Ashleigh calls the sardine effect, and loss of personal contact that comes with big numbers. ‘You don’t get to talk to people – things get too rushed. We like to have a bit of fun,’ she adds.
Number 8, not surprisingly, is already drawing some customers from the Mount’s buzzing waterfront, that can draw big crowds on sunny weekends. One or two patrons taking refuge have remarked on the ‘subway’ crowds of Marine Parade. And apartment dwellers are spoiled; Ashleigh and Levi will serve food and drinks to them upstairs, even ‘spag boll’ for the kids.
The cafe’s wine list runs from a selection of Mills Reef wines, to around other 20 well chosen labels from around the country. And wine is sold by the glass from $7.50.
Number 8 is open from 3 pm Tuesday, 10.30 am Wednesday to Friday, and from 7.30 am over the weekends, serving breakfasts. It stays open until at least 10 pm, and as late as midnight for guests who are lingering.
‘Number 8’ is located at 8 Maunganui Road, ground Floor of The Pacific Apartments, tel 07-9297419.