Locals I Love: Manawat?’s best coffee, doughnuts and vegan kai

Locals I Love: Manawat?’s best coffee, doughnuts and vegan kai

Jono Galuszka is a senior reporter based in Stuff’s Manawat? office. He previously worked in multiple cafes, bars and restaurants, wrote cafe reviews for student media and won awards as a barista and for writing about the country’s beer industry.

Manawat? may not be the first pick for many food lovers, especially with Wellington only a couple of hours away by train.

But those living in and around Manawat? know their home is full of excellent spots to eat and drink, much of it made with the vast array of produce grown in the region.

Here is my list of top spots to visit if you want to spend a day gorging yourself on the finest Manawat? – and some places in nearby Horowhneua – has to offer.

COFFEE – single origin filter

At Mouthwater Coffee Company, 159 Main St and 828 Tremaine Ave, Palmerston North

It is not often you pull up to a coffee cart and expect to be served by arguably one of the country’s best baristas.

But drag your undercaffeinated body in front of one of Mouthwater’s bright red carts and chances are you will be served by owner Andrew Feldon.

Andrew Feldon is dishing up some of Manawatu’s best coffee from his Mouthwater Coffee Company carts.

Warwick Smith/Stuff

Andrew Feldon is dishing up some of Manawatu’s best coffee from his Mouthwater Coffee Company carts.

Feldon started teaching himself how to extract decent espresso by watching videos on YouTube, but has since forged a career which led to him being certified to judge international coffee competitions.

He also tells a cracking dad joke, which you can find scrawled on signs at either of his carts.

The Main St location is my go-to, with Feldon often having a batch of single origin filter coffee ready to pour, beans for sale and a new joke to make you either laugh or groan.

BREAKFAST – chilli cheddar pretzel

At BABCO, 95 Albert St, Palmerston North

BABCO’s social media accounts should come with content warnings, informing viewers they will be struck with the untameable urge to empty their wallet in exchange for bags of perfectly baked goods.

What started as a pop-up pizza and sourdough bread outfit has evolved into arguably the finest bakery in Manawat?.

The sourdough is delicious, the vegan sandwiches good enough to turn the heads of even the most ardent of carnivores and the croissants supremely scoffable.

But I have always been a fan of the chilli cheddar pretzel, with its chewy baked dough topped with sharp cheese and enough chilli to get your day off to a spicy start.

Pair it with whatever themed sweet treat they have concocted for the season – their hot cross buns are some of the finest around – for an especially good start to the day.

LUNCH – spring roll and tofu noodle salad

At Saigon Corner, 54 Princess St, Palmerston North

Manawat? may be surrounded by milk, beef, sheep and chicken farms, but vegans have more than enough ways to keep their bellies full.

Wholegrain Organics? serves up nutritious and delicious soups and pizza using vegetables from their own farm, Sinergy’s? food cart is perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast burrito or decadent Oreo hotcakes, and Whispers Cafe? (yes, I know, it’s in Levin, which is in Horowhenua) has a brilliant rage of quick vegan bites.

But my pick for some cruelty-free kai is Saigon Corner’s? spring roll and tofu noodle salad.

What started as little more than a hole in the wall has turned into a restaurant serving some of Manawat?’s finest Vietnamese food, with the pho and banh mi always on point.

But the spring roll and tofu noodle salad, available with vegan sauce if requested, hits the perfect spot between nutritious and delicious.

SNACK- Sandy doughnut

At The Little White Rabbit 106 Seabury Ave, Foxton Beach

The Little White Rabbit is one of three spots in Foxton and Foxton Beach owned and run by Anita? and Nigel Lynn?, who previously had Village Inn Kitchen? in Palmerston North.

Foxton Beach may be slightly outside Manawat? – even if Foxton is home to Manawat? College – but the doughnuts the Lynns serve up are too good to ignore.

The Little White Rabbit? is a compulsory stop for me when I’m on my way to the beach, with brilliant coffee and food to match.

A Sandy doughnut is always on the order, with the pillow-like interior shielded with a crust created by frying the dough, while the ‘sandy’ sugar gives the perfect sweet kick.

They are closer to the New Orleans-style beignet than a cream-filled doughnut – although you can get a flavoured Sandy – and are best eaten the same way: quickly, while warm, with a coffee.

DRINK – King St Bohemian pilsner

At Brew Union Brewing Company, 39-41 Broadway Ave, Palmerston North

For a pre-dinner drink, Brew Union Brewing Company is a favourite for many.

In five years it has quickly become the region’s go-to for delicious in-house beer, cracking cocktails and moreish pizza.

Get there during April to try their Turbo Juice? hazy IPA, a seasonal brew made with freshly picked hops.

The hop variety used, Nectaron, is responsible for the waves of peach and nectarine which wash across your tastebuds.

But any other time of the year, their King St Bohemian pilsner is a perfect example of a New Zealand pilsner.

It is plenty flavoursome for the craft beer lovers, with the use of NZ-grown Taiheke and Riwaka hops giving the brew a citrus hit and floral hum.

But with a lean malt profile and 5 per cent alcohol level, it is also crushable enough to be a perfect lawnmower beer.

DINNER – Chateaubriand Tataki

At Provenance, 159 Broadway Ave, Palmerston North

There has never been a better time to dine out in Manawat? than now.

The options for brilliant meals include the Cuisine-hatted Amayjen, long-standing Nero Restaurant, small-plates specialist The Fat Farmer, steakhouse Aberdeen, Feilding’s The Strong Room and Little Savanna with its African influence.

Then there is the large range of ethnic restaurants, featuring the izakaya-inspired Yatai?, the Middle Eastern cuisine of Afghan Darbar?, the south Indian on offer at Arranged Marriage? and the cook-it-yourself Korean barbecue at GAON.

But my pick is newcomer Provenance, opened by businessman Harry Faas? during the Covid-19 pandemic with Aaron Freeman? of My Kitchen Rules fame as executive chef.

Executive chef Aaron Freeman and owner Harry Faas are using as much Manawat? produce as possible at Provenance.


Executive chef Aaron Freeman and owner Harry Faas are using as much Manawat? produce as possible at Provenance.

Provenance takes its name from its mission – feeding diners excellent meals using as much product grown or made in and around Manawat? as possible.

The menu tells you where your ingredients come from: chicken from Foxton’s Turk’s Poultry? located 40 kilometres to the west, garlic from ?piti Road Garlic? 50km north and Cartwheel Creamery? cheese 40km north-east.

The star of the show is the chateaubriand tataki – Angus beef from Totaranui Angus Pure Stud? (35km south-east) cooked perfectly rare over coals, served with a sesame ponzu dressing.

The acidity of ponzu cuts the richness of the beef, while the meat is the epitome of melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.

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