Scarecrow Mount Eden Feels like a Well-Stocked Country Grocer

. October 02, 2020
Photography by Alex Blackwood.
Scarecrow Mount Eden Feels like a Well-Stocked Country Grocer

You might have been to Scarecrow cafe in the city - they've been there since 2014. There, they have a few of the same artisanal goodies, plus a counter bursting with baked goods and a humming coffee machine churning out orders on the corner of Victoria Street East and Kitchener Street.

Here on Mt Eden Road, the new branch is a quieter affair, but the shelves are heaving with brands that owners Alison (pictured) and Paul (a little camera-shy) Dyson are proud of. At the front of the shop, local, free-range Durham Farm eggs from Waipu sit next to the asparagus that Bill Cummings dropped off from Cambridge this morning. They have fresh, biodynamically-farmed produce including potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, lemons, celery fennel and lettuce as well as the nostalgic addition of full cream milk (the kind with cream at the top) milk. If you return the bottle, you get $3 back... That's from Durham farms too. Not to be missed is their cabinet of chocolate from Honest Chocolate, She, and Cara Telle and her father Helmut. The chocolate dates are a particularly addictive little treat. Closer to Christmas they'll have stollen and other seasonal treats too.

Wander through the shop and you'll find no space between the ample jars and packets - brands you know and brands you won't - some are household names (like Duck Island or Bonne Maman), some that I've heard foodie friends sing the praises of, such as Jenny's Kitchen Tamarind Chutney. And there are also some names I hadn't heard of. For instance, The Waiheke Honey Co. are Alison and Paul's neighbours on Waiheke Island, and the bees that make the honey buzz through an area that the Dysons are reforesting. Paul says they work with around 200 producers - and they are proud of each and every one.

They’re also immensely proud of their cosy little cellar at the back of the shop - full of predominantly Waiheke wines, but also a few from elsewhere in New Zealand. For Paul, picking a favourite is like It's like choosing a favourite child, but near the top of his list you'll find The Obsidian 2013 (a Bordeaux-style blend of the Waiheke winery's cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot) and Passage Rock's Method Traditionelle - as close as you'll get to a Champagne grown on Waiheke.

They have a short but local and sweet selection of beer from Urbanaut, Garage Project, Brothers Beer and Waiheke Island Brewery (they are big fans of Waiheke).

Though they are excited about all their produces, they are also pretty handy themselves. The selection of pies, soups, chicken legs, lamb shank, muesli and pickled mushrooms are all made in Scarecrow's tiny Victoria Street kitchen.

Even further out the back, past the cellar and into the backyard, the Dysons have a bit of a treat for flower fans. A classic little green shed houses a colourful sea of blooms. There were roses, proteas, chrysanthemums, lavender and statis ready to be taken home when I was there, but there are more on the way, and we hear locals are already loving them.

The idea for a well-stocked artisanal grocer began when Alison and Paul were living in Paris. They didn't have a car and didn’t need one because in such a big, well-stocked, food-mad city everything was within walking distance. They could buy gorgeously fresh produce direct from the producer. They are hoping to give Mt Eden the same easy, convenient connection to local produce, and with their shelves already brimming with Kiwi products they are proud of, the Dysons might just have achieved their mission.

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811 Mount Eden Road, Mount Eden, Auckland