Ti Kouka is my favourite cafe. It's the best. It's like my second family. And they have great food.
When I was working in corporate land my office was just a few doors away, and so I would make a regular morning pilgrimage to get a hot chocolate and a scone (I don't drink coffee).
Their hot chocolates are magnificent - they feature some kind of magical spice blend which takes it far beyond what you expect from a cafe hot chocolate. Every time I get one of these delicious beverages the first sip is like coming home and sinking into a comfy sofa.
Their scones are always good, too, buttery and light. They usually have three or four flavours including a couple of cheese variants, but my pick is the date and caramel one. You have to be in early for them, though!
If a lunch date is more your thing a side of chips is pretty much required. You probably won't need the extra food but you do need to try these triple-cooked beauties. They come with ketchup, harissa and aioli so your sauce preferences should be covered, and they are impossibly fluffy inside while being crunchy and perfect outside. I have been know to skip the main menu and just have chips (in fact, Little Monkey is probably about 50% made of these chips, considering how many of them he made me eat before he was born).
Last time I was there for lunch I had the TK platter, which varies from day to day but is a generous array of all sorts of pickles and morsels along with plenty of Leeds St Bakery bread to schmear and dip.
These days my best shot at getting to TK is if I convince Mr Cake we're in need of a weekend family brunch outing. It's not a hard sell - usually I suggest it and he vehemently agrees. Or he suggests it and I vehemently agree. Either way, it's our go to.
They're pretty good at looking after (and doting on) the Little Monkey - they don't have a kids menu as such but are very happy to adapt to suit, so we usually just ask for a piece of bread and some jam for him. And for the grown-ups - well, there are heaps of delicious options on the brunch menu, but if pancakes are available I'm having pancakes! The specimens above are from our most recent brunch a week or so back, and featured candied mandarin, marscapone and a side of maple syrup (because all good cafes serve the maple syrup on the side so you can decide how much to pour). Mr Cake opted for the scaled up version, which added mandarin marmalade and bacon for a couple of dollars extra.
I reckon these guys do the best pancakes in Wellington (happy to test that assertion but I'm yet to find any that come close) and they change up the menu pretty regularly. Honorable mentions of the past go to the gingerbread pancakes (glory!) and the caramelised banana pancakes which came with chocolate pouring sauce and praline.
So basically, an all round rave review. I struggle to find anything bad to say about them - probably the worst thing is that their awesomeness is the worst-kept secret in Wellington so they tend to be pretty busy, so it pays to book if you're going at a peak time.
Do you have a favourite cafe that's like a second home to you?
Ti Kouka Cafe is located upstairs at 76 Willis Street, Wellington, phone 04 472 7682, www.tikouka-cafe.co.nz.