Licensed Cafe & Restaurant

174 Whitaker Street ~ Te Aroha
Phone (07) 884 7574
Email Us



NZ Listener (Steve Braunias - Personal Best - December 2003
Best Restaurant - "Hard to choose between Terrior in Havelock North, Sgt Pepper's Steak House in Christchurch ... Main Line Station in Domett, near Cheviot, SPQR in Auckland, Pipi in Greytown, Banco in Te Aroha ..."
Best Town - Te Aroha
Waikato Times - August 2003
People's Choice - Best Regional Cafe
Cuisine Magazine - July 2003 - Vic Williams
New Zealander's have a penchant for creating restaurants from former banks ... Banco owner Jane Anderson has well and truly shrugged off the former staid image of the building by painting it bright red.
Chef Grant Allen, whom many readers will remember from either Wellington's Pierre's or Coromandel's Peppertree, is making good use of ingredients from the nearby regions.  The dinner menu is compact but reasonably wide-ranging.  One of the two tasting platters ($14) usually adds house-smoked salmon to tuna, gurnard, mussels, roe and other seasonal finds from an inventive Coromandel smokehouse.  Faintly sweet horseradish cream makes a refreshing accompaniment.
There is seafood chowder, as well as a daily changing soup, a terrine of port and chicken livers, and a salad of pear, nashi and blue cheese completes the entree options.  The five mains cover the usual options of pasta, fish, chicken breast, lamb and scotch fillet - they are all priced at $26.50.
The kitchen shows good skills and a sensible attitude to nutritional balance ...
A nice touch amongst the desserts is affogato - vanilla bean ice-cream with liqueur, a dipping biscuit and a short black - which is rarely seen on menus.
A lunch time innovation is a list of 16 possible toppings for panini ($9) or pasta ($14).  The first three are included in the price and additions are charged at 50c each.
Banco is fun to visit - the room is decorated with quirky souvenirs from Jane Anderson's overseas adventures, and her service style is super-friendly, cheeky when appropriate, as well as confident and knowledgeable.
The wine list offers only nine whites and six reds, with five by the glass, but a few of the labels are seldom seen elsewhere.
Helen Perry
Bancos ~ dining bright spot
Yes, it was bright.  This former bank building is cherry red and offers an equally brilliant dining experience.  Our guests wasted no time telling us that this restaurant had "the best" toilet in the world.  I had to see for myself and was impressed.  Superbly appointed, it exuded old world charm with books and dolls, towels and pot pourri mixing with the fragrant aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg.  There was more to admire in the restaurant before we settled to order from an array of exciting choices that came beautifully presented, expertly prepared and disappeared in a flash.  We indulged in old fashioned desserts before it was time to hit the road for Auckland and home.  It has been a wonderful day.
Stir It Up - Jeff Howell
... inside is an eclectic mix of pre-loved artefacts, a dozen style of tables and chairs, piles of magazines and books, couches, cushions, daises in Asian vases, original art, even a Salvador Dali book on the counter.  Part neo-bohemian, part Somerset Maugham, it is an environment crafted with eccentricity and good taste.
Down the back by the espresso machine owner Jane Anderson is discussing books with a regular.  Fetching a bucketload of toys for Oskar, she introduces herself and takes our orders.
... Choosing a couch by the counter, we settled into people watching ... by 11am the place with filling ... our order arrived, the lattes made from Allpress beans in brimless conical glasses, tasting French and milky.
The brunches had a chef's touch.  Rustic bacon, rough grained, pink and tasting home cured.  Slivers of pan-fried mushrooms, parsleyed scrambled eggs, a rich tomato, slices of refried new potatoes, home baked focaccia toast with garlic butter.  Plus a dollop or two of pesto.  Uncompromisingly fresh, quirky, homely yet sophisticated.  Like a Saturday breakfast prepared by a well heeled, well travelled friend.
Clearly not your average cafe ...
North & South - Eating Out
Banco ~ Between courses, a wonderful collection of curios and art demand inspection inside this converted bank.  Once the meal arrives, we have to flag the distractions and concentrate on getting through generous servings of great-looking, gorgeous-tasting food.  The seafood laksa is supposedly an entree but is could have been a meal in itself and, when we opt to share it, it's kindly delivered in two bowls.  There are loads of fresh, seasonal veges with my eggplant and roasted vegetable stack and his tender scotch filet.  Young diners get special seats, a toy box and their own blackboard menu before being taken to visit the resident dogs ...
Waikato Times
Capping ~ So it's graduation week, your proud folks are in town and they need a feed.  Here's what our restaurant reviewer Jeff Howell says you can do:
... Best out of town:  Cruise to Te Aroha in the family Beemer for dinner at Cafe Banco (great good, convivial hostess, phone ahead).
F & B - May 2003 - Vic Williams
Te Aroha in the Waikato was once a thriving tourist centre thanks to a collection of natural spa pools ... may soon regain its former international reputation.  That's good news for Jane Anderson.  The former advertising executive has made a great job of converting a former bank into a quirkily decorated restaurant.  She hasn't painted the whole town red, but she's made an eye-catching start with the formerly grey exterior of her new enterprise.
Chef Grant Allen established a good reputation at Coromandel's Peppertree and continues to make good use of many of his former suppliers.  If it's reasonably local and preferably organic, it's likely to make an appearance in one of his dishes.
The hand-written Banco menu has some interesting touches.  At lunchtime, 16 possible toppings are offered for panini ($9).  Any three are included in the price and additions cost 50c apiece.
Price uniformity is a feature of the dinner menu.  Two tasting platters, one featuring a selection of seafood from a Coromandel smokehouse are $14 apiece, soup is $9.50 and the remaining three items are all $12.50.  Four of the five main courses are $26.50 - a $22.50 dish of penne pasta with lemon, olives and courgette is the only exception.  Two of the three desserts are $9.50 each, and the rarely seen affogata (vanilla ice cream topped with an espresso coffee) is $12.
Ingredients are well detailed, and Jane and her team are knowledgeable enough to be able to answer any queries about their contribution to each dish.
Those in a hurry are warned that the kitchen serves 'good' food not 'fast' food.  It seems a reasonable precaution for an establishment where the chef often works alone, but one wonders what sort of local reaction sparked its addition to the menu.
There are nine white and six reds on the wine list, and five of those are offered by the glass.  A few of the labels are relative rarities.