Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The first of my New Cafe A Day places was Zekka, on King Street in the city centre.

I had heard, from a couple of people who recommended it, that it was very cool and hip, so I prepared myself with due care. I practiced my expression of aloof ennui, checking it in the reflections in shop windows as I walked up the street to see if I needed to add more sneer. Even though I'd been told exactly where it was it took a moment to find, as it's tucked up a narrow ramp in the depths of an anonymous building.

In order to further fit in, I wore the coolest outfit I could dig up: my new Industrie jeans, a brown 70s vintage leather jacket and a retro checked blue shirt. But as I entered I immediately saw that this was unacceptable. Everyone else was wearing black, except for the occasional glimpses of white that made the black blacker.

I'd forgotten that it's late autumn, and as every fashionista knows in the winter season one wears black. Never mind that the day was as bright, hot and sunny as the most glaringly vulgar spring morning – it's late May, and one doesn't wear colour after Easter.

Oh well. The other patrons pointedly ignored the comparative harlequin that had appeared in their midst, and at least it was fairly dim in there, making me look like less of a neon billboard for gaucherie. The rear of the cafe is open to the air, via a large lightwell, but the surrounding skyscrapers create so much shadow that that only a diffuse light gets in. There are a few blocky, squared minimalist tables, a cubist wall mural, severely architectural zamias growing in simple black containers and some zeitgeisty art.

The baristas, slim scruffily bearded young men wearing skinny black jeans and wan smiles, took pity on me and brought me a flat white. As my friends had promised it was very good. It was slightly smoky but not by any means burnt, giving it a dense flavour without any bitterness. The fruit toast I had was also top quality – almost cakelike in texture and rich with fruit and oats.

Unfortunately I couldn't spend too long there. I had to get back to my car before my parking expired, and the effort of not broadcasting my lack of cool to all of the black-clad hipsters was taking its toll. I plan to go there again, however. I jut need to get my black skivvy out of storage.


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