Making a meal of it at Plume Café Matakana

By: Jill Malcolm, Photography by: Jill Malcolm


NZMCD recently visited the charming Plume Café overlooking the Matakana River. We have a high tea experience to give away so be sure to enter our competition below!

In 2004, Farida and Clyde Cooper came from India to live in New Zealand with the intent of finding a less complex way of life for their children. Not only have they achieved that aim they also own a vineyard, a restaurant, and a cafe, and I suspect that’s not the end of it.

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The cafe’s restful summer setting

"When we arrived here, the only thing we knew about wine was how to drink it," laughed Farida as we sat at the table in Plume Café, "and I’d always loved cooking for family and friends but nothing more."

As she talked, I was busy forking up the delectable creamy garlicky mushrooms and bacon that I had ordered for breakfast.

Plume Café, which is set in a charming house overlooking the Matakana River, is just one of the places the Coopers now own and run. A lot has happened in the 14 years the couple has been in New Zealand and it all began with a chance encounter.

Soon after they settled in Auckland, they set off one fortuitous day to show some visiting friends around the countryside north of the city. Not far from Matakana village, their attention was drawn to a splendid villa set among three hectares of flourishing grape vines. It was for sale.

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As fresh as it gets­ — bread straight from the on-site bakery 

"We’d thought of farming in New Zealand," Farida said, "but our children didn’t like the idea of us being involved in killing animals, so farming grapes seemed like a good option."

They bought the property more for their love of the house than for the vineyard. Nonetheless, Clyde studied viticulture for the next two years and their interest in wine production began to grow. 

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 Runner Duck wine barrels

"Our aim was, and still is, to produce small quantities of premium wine," Clyde said. "Our first vintage was in 2007, and we called our label Runner Duck."

After brunch at the cafe, I called in to the Runner Duck Cellar Door that I found adjacent to Plume Restaurant. There are 10 Runner Duck wine styles and it goes without saying that I didn’t taste them all but their reputation is a testament to the couple’s relentless drive for perfection.

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Bill’s breakfast and our take-home loaf of sourdough bread

The same goes for the restaurant next door, which is well-known for the high standard of its lunches and for the superb dinners that are served on Friday and Saturday nights.

You would think that a vineyard and a high-end restaurant would be enough, but in 2012, the Coopers also bought the old teahouse in Matakana and refurbished it to become Plume Café.

The decor is fresh and friendly. A large stone fireplace dominates the room and makes it cosy and inviting in winter. In summer, the glass doors open out to include tables and umbrellas set in an old-world garden.

The cafe’s kitchen hums with activity and just outside the back door is a purpose-built bakery turning out bread and pastries for the cafe menu and for visitors to buy and take away.

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Fresh from the baker’s oven

"The cafe food is all made here," Farida said. "The wonderful produce is mostly sourced locally. Our chef is highly experienced. I think he makes the best eggs Benedict sauce I’ve ever tasted. It’s many people’s favourite."

I can also attest to the sauce on the mushrooms, which was memorably delicious. Bill chose French brioche toast, bacon, banana, and maple syrup and I could see by the smug look on his face that he felt he’d made the better choice.

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Farida and Clyde Cooper 

Call in on an afternoon and you could well be tempted by a Plume high tea— three tiers of taste sensations such as Kalamata olive and feta scones or roast beef with red onion marmalade sandwiches, and on the top tier, dark chocolate pave and grape juice mousse. The cafe’s setting, the décor, and the cheerful ambience are all part of the popularity of Plume, but it’s the food that takes the cake.

As I said, I didn’t think that the cafe would be the end of it, and I was right. In July this year, the Coopers opened 12 luxury villas on the restaurant property. Maybe there is more to come.

Find out more at plumecollection.co.nz.

Win a high tea experience at Plume Café, valued at $65

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Enjoy a high tea at Plume Café, valued at $65.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE COMPETITION

Competition ends 19 October 2018.

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