The mimosa flower is a delicate, fragrant pink bloom that heralds spring’s movement into summer. Different cultures ascribe different meanings to the mimosa – delicacy, sensitivity, calming – and in Chinese medicine it’s described as the ‘happiness herb’ because of its ability to open a person’s heart to happiness.
Cafe Mimosa has been on Lake Rd, Takapuna for some time but became wholly vegetarian and mainly vegan just a few months ago. The cafe is also committed to providing gluten free, organic and Fair Trade options.
So – how does Cafe Mimosa rate on the happiness scale?
Matt and I wandered in for a visit on a sunny late spring day. The cafe is bright and busy with a light rustic decor. There’s a blackboard menu which is adapted for summer and winter and a cabinet with snacks and vegan and gluten free cakes made on the premises.
I ordered the Crispy Tofu and Vege Bowl with brown rice, eggplant, vegetables and miso soup ($18). Matt selected the Breakfast Mushrooms with cashew cream and sourdough bread ($17).
There’s a Japanese flavour to the serving style at the table and this is reflected in some of the menu. The Crispy Tofu was quite a charming dish, and to my delight turned out to be a true macrobiotic meal (macrobiotics originated from traditional Japanese cooking). It was served in a wide glazed pottery bowl and came with a mug of white (shiro) miso soup; this is a light miso appropriate for summertime.
The short grain brown rice is my favourite and, when cooked well as this was, releases its slightly nutty flavour as you chew. The tofu and veges – eggplant, asparagus, mushrooms – had a light sauce to bind them, but not so much as to drown the flavour of the rice – in face my only wish is that there was a little more of the sauce. There was even a sprinkling of fine nori seaweed strips and saffron for garnish. The miso soup, garnished with watercress, added a welcome sweet/salty balance to the meal.
Matt’s mushrooms looked attractive but he found them to be a little overwhelmed by the sage, as was the cashew cream.
The main meals all looked to be nutrient dense, which is a pleasure to see in a vegetarian cafe and suggests a real understanding of sound vegan nutrition. Even the mushrooms were served with a protein, the cashew cream. That suggests a real understanding of nutritional principles, as so often mushrooms are served just with toast and there’s no substance in that at all.
In January I returned for a quick lunch from the cabinet.
Falafel rolls are frequently strongly flavoured and quite dry, needing more sauce than is usually provided; happily, Cafe Mimosa’s version ($7) is light, gently flavoured and definitely not dry – most enjoyable on a very warm summer day. I followed this with a slice of vegan, gluten free chocolate orange tart. The combination of rich dark chocolate and orange flavour with almonds, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds was packed with flavour, and was every bit as rich as you’d expect.
In February Matt and I found ourselves at Takapuna Beach again for lunch. This time Matt had the Crispy Tofu and Vege Bowl, which he enjoyed, though he also would have liked more of the sauce. I ordered the slightly smaller Mimosa Bowl of brown rice, mixed herby beans, olives, avo, coriander, mustard and sour cream ($14). (There would have been cheddar cheese but the staff were unable to confirm that it was a vegetarian cheese i.e. that it had vegetable rather than animal rennet.) It was well seasoned and satisfying.
The staff have always been most friendly and helpful. Cafe Mimosa is a welcome and distinctive addition to the region’s vegetarian cafes. I’ll be more than happy to return any time I’m in the area.