The extra mile in hospitality
It has been a fine year of eating and drinking, says Denise Irvine, who offers her top picks.
I went to the movies the other night with a few friends and we walked across to Italian eatery Caffé Centrale in Alma St for dinner afterwards.
It was busy and we had not booked, but we were warmly greeted. A party had just departed and the table was quickly reset for us. We enjoyed bruschetta, handmade pasta, delicious made-on-site gelato, limoncello to finish and pleasant conversation with hosts Marco and Alessandro.
It was well after 10pm by the time we made noises about leaving and staff began packing up. just at that moment, a few people appeared in the doorway. A man said hopefully.
"Any chance of a meal? Are you still open?"
Marco and Alessandro barely hesitated, a quick glance, a nod, yes, they could do dinner. One minute chef Marco had been winding down, chatting with his last guests, next thing he was back firing up the oven.
Alessandro rearranged the tables, the group came in and said there may be a few others on their way. There may have been 12 or more people; they looked like out-of-towners and would gain a good impression of Hamilton hospitality from this late dinner.
We commented as we left that there would be few kitchens in the city (maybe apart from some bars) prepared to cook meals at 10.30pm.
Alessandro smiled. "In Italy there would never be a problem," he said.
Anyway these guys are top of my unofficial awards from a year of observation, eating out and writing about food.
Best Hospitality = Caffé CentraleDenise Irvine, Waikato Times