Born in Yorkshire, raised in Shropshire, travelled the world. Lived in Adelaide and currently in UK. Love travel, ancient history, horses, cello playing, the unusual and obscure, and pottering in my own back yard. Visit my website www.wadders.co.uk
Published December 21st 2015
An elegant eco-friendly makeover for iconic cafe
The iconic Joan's Pantry on Watahuna Avenue, Hawthorndene has undergone a tasteful, massive makeover since I wrote about it back in 2014.
It's still got its cosy corners tucked away in the trees and tables for two and more inside, and it's still got its lovely rustic appeal. Plus you're still met with welcoming smiles and friendly, good service.
However, diners can now enjoy a Devonshire Tea or other delectable delights on the decking at the front, while inside patrons can relax in a light, airy and spacious dining area, complete with ducted air-conditioning.
Some may argue the best improvement is the state-of-the-art toilet facilities, including a toilet for the disabled and baby changing area for mums. No more running over to the public conveniences in the nearby Apex Park when you get caught short.
The building was desperately run down and needed renovating," owner Lisa Down explained. "As well as being more comfortable for customers, the building is also more eco-friendly, with skylights, LED lighting and whirlie winds."
The Joan's Pantry menu continues to focus on home-made food, using fresh and seasonal produce – some of which has been grown in the 'kitchen garden' at the rear of the café.
There is still plenty to choose from on the menu too. Lisa has kept many of the regular old favourites including freshly made baguettes and Turkish bread rolls, a breakfast menu, Devonshire Teas and a wide selection of homemade cakes including gluten free options.
Plus there's freshly squeezed juice, Fairtrade tea & coffee and Bonsoy for the soy drinkers. There are a few added extras now on the menu to tantalise your taste buds; these change from week to week, but when we were there, tasty turkey meatballs, fried squid with an Asian salad and the BLAT burger – bacon, lettuce, aioli and tomato – were on the specials menu.
Another addition to the kitchen is third generation chef Matt Bickerton, who has spent 10 years training in the French hospitality industry. His enviable experience includes being head chef at Grimaldi's on Greenhill Road and the Scenic Hotel.
After your feed or leisurely drink, enjoy a stroll around the delightful community garden, where volunteers lovingly tend the organic vegetables, fruit and herbs. This also has expanded and you can access this garden via the gently sloping stairs at the back; Lisa is keen to install a disabled access in the future.
And if you're after a bit of nostalgia, you can still see a bit of the old Joan's Pantry. The old frontage and sign are on show in the garden to remind you of its 1920s heritage.