The name comes from the Maori name for their country: Aotearoa, ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, and generally suggests something more beautiful than a café on Hackney Road. The owners have done their best with the long white premises, but the place still looks slightly cold, with the decorative touches (plants, walls used as exhibition space) and second-hand furniture not managing to tip the balance towards homely. Happily, the quality of the food is lure enough.
A full English breakfast was a proper reviver – flavour-packed and fresh-tasting, while scrambled eggs with green chilli was cooked just so, and had a delightful kick. Coffee (Monmouth) is good, too. One of the owners is a Kiwi, and there are a few nods to NZ (kumara – sweet potato – chips, for example, and a few packaged goods). As well as breakfast items, there are simple dishes such as frittata with salads, sandwiches, and a small range of cakes. A limited evening menu runs Monday to Friday: all-you-can-eat pasta on Monday and Tuesday, pie on Wednesday, Mexican on Thursday, and burgers on Friday. Efficient service comes with a smile – this is no scenester hangout.