If you walk past this sign in Cuba Mall’s Left Bank, you might be forgiven for thinking Offbeat Originals was just another one of Cuba St’s funky shops, selling (as the sign says) “artglass, ceramics & collectables”. But as you go further into the Left Bank* it’s soon apparent that , whilst Offbeats does have a funky collection of the aforementioned curios, its main attraction is (for me anyway) its no-frills-but-damn-good burgers, sandwiches, shakes and smoothies.
I loved the chocolate peanut butter milkshake ($5). Offbeats has a myriad of milkshake flavours, with extras like peanut butter a dollar extra. Of course, as a fan of all things peanut butter, I couldn’t pass it up. Nothing pretentious about this shake; it’s served in a Longest Drink in Town cup, not too thick (they also do thickshakes for those so inclined), but with a bit of extra body from the peanut butter. It’s pretty filling; it could be a (rather unhealthy but so so good!) meal in itself.
The tamarillo smoothie ($6**) was pretty tamarillo-y. I ordered this mainly because of the sheer comprehensiveness of the smoothie list, and the novelty of seeing it on the menu. It made me remember the fact that tamarillo’s not my favourite fruit… something about the flavour, I guess. Still, it was a refreshing drink, definitely not too sweet, as some smoothies can get.
Offbeats does a number of burgers, toasties and sandwiches. I usually get a baked bean and cheese toastie (although it’s something I could easily make at home, I still find myself drawn to their version) but this time I opted for a tofu burger ($7.50). It was such a good choice, I’m not sure I can go back to the old baked bean and cheese. The tofu was fried enough that it was bordering on crispy, but still juicy from the marinade. A generous portion of salad and a smear of mayo rounded off the whole thing nicely. And the soft, yet substantial bun might possibly have been the best burger bun I’ve had of late.
My friend C had a chicken, tomato and cheese panini ($6**). With customisable fillings, the number of panini permutations you can have is endless, and the olive-flecked bread is a nice addition.
The slices at Offbeats come in these long, thin bar-shapes. They’re a force to be reckoned with – maybe because of their length, they seem really huge, and are pretty sweet and rich at first bite (I can say that about the caramel slice and ginger slice, anyway). I was unsure if C and I could finish this, but I was wrong… despite our full bellies, it disappeared pretty quickly. The ginger slice ($3) had a thick, muesli-bar-like base which was chewy and gingery. There was just the perfect amount of icing; though it was thin, it was sweet and rich with a strong flavour of ginger. Just the way I like it, though if there had been more icing it would have overpowered the slice.
Offbeat Originals is a good choice for a quick, cheap feed when you don’t want to compromise on quality. In addition to tofu burgers and paninis, they also do non-vegetarian burgers, toasties and sandwiches and soup which all seem like popular choices. Although their menu is pretty basic, the sheer number of choices in terms of panini and toastie fillings as well as shakes and smoothies means that you could quite easily go there and never have to eat the same thing twice (although I usually end up getting the same things every time anyway!).
Left Bank Arcade
(04) 801 8318
*Speaking of Left Bank, it’s full of gems. While Satay Kingdom is a favourite of many, I’m partial to Oriental Kingdom on the other side… they do a tasty chicken rice as well as the usual roti dishes. Plus I’ve been told that there’s a pretty good empanada place there, which I’m super excited to check out!
** If these prices are somewhat inaccurate, I apologise: I’m at the airport*** and mistakenly left my little notebook in my checked luggage. So I’m working off memory. But I think I’m right. I’ll double check and correct any errors upon landing!
***Yes, I’m on my way back to Wellington! (Via a 12 hour stopover in Brisbane) So, so excited. It’s been a good trip, though!