CARRIE STEELE finds a Far North café that’s just the thing for vegans.
If you find yourself in Paihia and needing a little sustenance, I suggest you stop by the Orange Frog and see what’s on offer. The café promotes vegetarian/vegan friendly options, with a focus on organic where possible. There appear to be a good selection of juices and smoothies available as well.
We searched this place out specially, wanting to make sure we’d find somewhere for a leisurely lunch before taking the car ferry across to ‘not-vegan-friendly Russell’ (though we do love Russell, we just take our own food!)
The Orange Frog is an unassuming establishment, simply decorated with a really nice outdoor connection through a big bifold window at the front.
Hubby ordered a vegan burger, which he enjoyed at the time, but can’t recall now what was in it. Umm, not a great advertisement, but I’m probably to blame for that for taking a couple of months to get around to writing this. I can certainly recall my salad bowl, which was excellent. In fact, I’d venture to say it was one of the best ‘salads’ I’ve had in any café, the only rival that comes to mind being one I had under the colonnade of Hotel Du Lac in Bellagio, gazing out to Lake Como.
So, in fairness, the salad at the Orange Frog in a street one back from the waterfront in Paihia does very well to be a rival. One of the stand-out elements of the Orange Frog’s salad was the cracker – I’m pretty sure it was a dehydrated/raw cracker, nearly identical to one I make that uses sprouted buckwheat and flax seeds. How I love those crackers, but they’re quite a lot of fuss to make from scratch and so it was a real treat to have one dished up to me.
The bowl included some potato salad, made with lovely little red-skin potatoes, a good selection of greens, spiralled carrot, chickpeas, and I may have missed some other bits and pieces, so forgive me. If I had only one negative thing to say, it would be that hubby queried whether it was a good idea serving the salad in a terracotta plant saucer, as he wondered how it would be cleaned. I hadn’t thought of that, and was actually quite taken by the presentation in the plant saucer. But that objection could easily be remedied by sourcing some cheerful ‘vintage’ bowls from an op shop, which would be equally attractive.
There wasn’t much cabinet food when we called in that day. Perhaps we were just after the lunch crowd? But that wasn’t a problem as we ordered off the menu. I did think that perhaps the café should have a big sign on the cabinet pointing out that there was a menu on the wall to order from, as a few people wandered in while we were there, peered into the cabinet, and left again.
We finished with chocolate cake from the cabinet. It was a baked rather than a raw cake, but vegan and gluten free. We probably should have shared one piece as it was much denser and more filling than a lighter/raw cake, but I still enjoyed it, as it’s always a big treat to have the opportunity to have cake at all. I’m glad we stopped in for lunch, and I would do so again when I’m next in Paihia, but I came away with the feeling that this café could make more of itself. The location is really pretty good, and there’s not much (if any) competition in the vegetarian/vegan café scene up that way. I do recommend you stop in and try it out if you’re looking for lunch in Paihia. We certainly enjoyed ours. CARRIE STEELE
Orange Frog. Open Mon-Fri 8:30am-3:00pm. Hours change seasonally.
11 Selwyn Rd, Paihia