Travel Bites: Elixir Cafe’s hash on toast helped me overcome my bread loathing



Natural wonders, man-made monuments and cultural experiences are usually the main points of interest when venturing beyond borders and leaping over oceans. For some, it’s the local specialties that pop up like Michelangelo’s David and that are worth it.

France has its fries, Belgium has its cookies, and Australia has its dark brown yeast spread, but in this series we will be highlighting foods that are worth traveling to New Zealand. Stamp these culinary delights on your passport – don’t expect pineapple-flavored chunks.

I have no stomach for bread. Not due to dietary requirements; my crunchy dilemma comes down to the texture of the fabric. My hell is biting into a white bread and the chewy filling adhering to the palate of my mouth. The best guess is that this is from family members pouring vinegar on top of tomato sandwiches.

Ridiculously, I have no problem with the crust or the toast, and the baps, bagels, and croissants are all great too. It’s not your ordinary party trick, but my one-off bread situation is one that has entertained friends and strangers for years.

Elixir Cafe's famous hash on toast.

Coffee Elixir

Elixir Cafe’s famous hash on toast.

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On a pre-containment trip to New Plymouth, I was told I couldn’t leave without trying Elixir Café’s signature hash on toast. The sloppy dish is so famous at Devon Street East restaurant that brunch lovers can even step out with their own chopped-on-toast souvenir t-shirt – in black or burgundy.

With some hesitation over the soggy bread, I succumbed to the pressure and ordered the famous dish. The Elixir version sees two thick slices of white sandwich bread absolutely smothered with minced meat in gravy. At the top of the bread tower is a poached farmhouse egg, then the whole thing is covered with a generous drizzle of aioli.

Sue Nathan, owner of Elixir Café.

Grant Matthew / Tips

Sue Nathan, owner of Elixir Café.

The cafe was originally started by New Plymouth hospitality personalities Craig MacFarlane and couple Lara Toyne and Cohen Baird, in 2006. Current Elixir Café owner Sue Nathan says the dish is a classic since she remembered it.

“It’s one of those dishes that we have on the menu that we can never change, modify, or God forbid to take off the menu.”

She attributes her success to the sweet and savory Angus beef mince, which comes from Green Meadows farm in Waiwhakaiho. Elsewhere, char bread comes from a local bakery down the road.

For a while, immersing myself in the humble dish helped me overcome my aversion to bread. I even considered buying the t-shirt to celebrate. Together, the rich brown hash and thick pan bread work in perfect harmony to create a beef-flavored delight.

It’s puffy and crisp at the same time, and while the egg helps it count as a breakfast dish, it’s a heavy plate that will keep you satisfied well beyond the morning.

Information sheet

Where to eat: Elixir Café’s popular hash on toast costs $ 22 per serving. Find the cafe at 117 Devon Street East, New Plymouth. See:

Do you have a favorite snack or meal that is worth traveling for? Email us at [email protected] or let us know in the comments.

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