Taking café fare to a new level, the team at G&R is undoubtedly cooking up the best breakfasts and casual lunches on the entire peninsula, unexpectedly served in a gorgeous yet simple space within a large industrial shed at Whangamatā.


In the same way that Michelin guided diners to rural spots with its ‘Worth a Detour’ designation, a trip to this one-year-old venture of former French Café owners Simon Wright and Creghan Molloy Wright is almost a compulsory pit stop for any foodie on the road. Expect fresh seasonal fare, a buzzy atmosphere that welcomes young and old alike, and the chance to indulge in Simon’s great tasting food again. And again.


Anyone who had the privilege of the French Café whitebait sandwich will be in heaven. A little taste of luxury is served in a fritter within two crunchy slices of toast and a simple garnish of crisp cos leaves and unctuous lemon mayo. The seasonal bowl of tasty goodness – a great bacon sando, an intriguing Mexican ‘French’ toast, and lovely folded eggs with spanner crab, ricotta, creamed sweetcorn and fresh basil. And it would be a real challenge to find a greater smoothie to outdo Gather & Roam’s jar of green goodness, with its notes of mango, coconut water, yoghurt and maple to camouflage the kale that’s central to the drink.


Simon Wright worked his way to the very pinnacle of the industry before semi-retiring to the Coromandel. A protégé of Marco Pierre White in the UK and Martin Bosley at Brasserie Flipp before working in kitchens of the Auckland dining scene, he has always produced disciplined and delicious food that is daring in its execution. Fine dining was his forte at the French Café, so it’s interesting to review his thoughtful approach to café food. He now works from a large food truck right in full view in the ‘shed’, although this is a pretty fancy truck fitted with all the imaginable equipment a chef needs to play with.


Overseeing this large, busy team is Creghan’s job, and there are few front-of-house folk more passionate about their work than she is. The Wrights’ move to Whangamatā after the sale of the French Café over three years ago was to enable and enjoy more family time. So it’s terrific to see their young son Miller and his cousin Korban on the floor, every bit second-generation professionals in the making when they’re not surfing, golfing or studying. Service is quick, caring and tuned perfectly to both locals and the visitors that stream through this popular seaside town.


A sideline of the Wright’s business is to cater for small, boutique events. Who wouldn’t want Simon Wright in their own kitchen, cooking his scrumptious, carefully constructed dishes?

121 Lindsay Rd, Whangamatā
Check website for opening hours
BREAKFAST: $12 – $24
LUNCH:  $20 – $26