We came here because we were staying in Mangawhai for Easter - along with several thousand other people; the coastal tourist spot was packed.
Parking was right outside in the carpark, which is laid with white stone chips and bordered by mini olive trees. Nice. There is more parking on the road.
We walked in and immediately thought wow. This Mediterranean-style building houses the famous Bennetts of Mangawhai chocolate factory and a gelato shop as well as the cafe. All three face on to an internal cobblestoned courtyard and entrance. Inside, the cafe is light and spacious with lots of tables as well as a large one for communal dining or big groups. There is courtyard seating out the back too.
The most unusual thing on the menu was, at a pinch, the omelette with raclette cheese and onion jam with salad ($17). It's a short menu with fairly standard options and lots of side dishes.
We ordered French toast with figs, maple syrup and creme fraiche ($17), scrambled eggs on toast ($13) and eggs benedict with bacon ($18). All were terrific.
The service was very prompt. We didn't wait long for our meals and the waitress was happy to clear the tables quickly so we could bring out the 2-year-old's birthday cake.
The coffee was strong but oh so good. They do a roaring trade in takeout coffee.
We recommend if you come here you have a chocolate overdose - try the cafe's signature hot chocolate (watch the slab of Bennetts chocolate melt in the glass of steamed milk) before heading next door to the chocolate shop. It's the best we've been to.
Overall we thought lucky Mangawhai. We wish Bennetts was closer to home, but it makes us want to visit Mangawhai again - very soon.
Article written by Michele Crawshaw for the NZ Herald, April 17 2012