Sunday, March 30, 2014

Geraldine Johns reviews RAD

WHAT ARE ALL these people doing here? Do they not have a job to go to? Or classes to attend? Or friends to visit?
   At 10.45 on a Friday morning – a reasonable hour, you would think, to be able to grab a perch between the thrust of breakfast and the throng of lunch, RAD is positively chocka. By the looks of the lucky lot who have secured a seat they are conducting the activities outlined above on these very premises.
   It will soon be easy to understand why. RAD is the kind of place which attracts them all: the suits, the students, the parents with prams, the ladies who clearly don’t want to wait any longer for lunch. We feel lucky to find ourselves a place at which to park among them.
   RAD has been many restaurant guises before. It is difficult to think of one that wears it as well as this. That has something to do with the snappy fit-out. But moreso, it’s something to do with the pedigree it brings. It’s a family affair, with many years of restaurant experience behind them. The handsome brothers Duke and Hugh Tran do a splendid job out front; Mum Trinny is in the kitchen. 
   Why, we ask them, the name. “Because we wanted to make something of a radical shift,” explains Duke. And indeed they have. Consider the menu. It’s got a zest-filled Vietnamese touch, but not to the exclusion of more regular café offerings. Which is why you’ll be dithering over their version of eggs benedict (eggs benny), which is competing with the Vietnamese sandwich. 
   And then there’s the touches like the Lego table identifiers, which, surprisingly, fit without seeming twee.
   So what do we get at table 16? A red and white quinoa salad of gorgeous proportions and flavour for my sponsor; Grandma’s pork bánh mì for me. Oh, we are so very pleased with all that is before us. We like the little touches, like the rosewater-flavoured water too.
   There is room for a thunderously good ginger crunch. A perfect partner to the First Flight coffee.
   RAD has a vivacity and a grooviness to it that is not often enjoyed in a place so young. It manages to keep a very delicate balance by merging the traditional with the, er, more radical.
   It is, clearly, a place that does breakfast as beautifully as it does lunch  as well as the bit in between. And it has staff who make you feel like you are welcome. You can’t get much of a better mix.  

397 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland.
Phone (09) 631 5218
Open seven days

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