21. Thirty Nine Cafe

In celebration of Auckland Restaurant Month, I will be posting 31 quick-fire reviews on 31 restaurants and cafes in the Auckland CBD and city fringe.

thirtynine

The atmosphere is…
Front, typical cafe, out back in their outdoor area, it is bit more arty and funky. Could do with a reno though.

Come here for…
We have been coming here for a decade just for the bacon hash. I’ve tried a few other things on their menu but their bacon hash is just wonderful. When I go with friends, we order a table’s worth of bacon hash.

The most interesting thing on the menu…
The bacon hash.

Unexpectedly wonderful…
The bacon hash.

I would come back to try…
The bacon hash…again.

Catering to…
People who love honey bacon, roasted portabello mushrooms, a big hash brown, and shit-tons of hollandaise.

Vegetarian options and gluten free options available. I dare you to swap the honey bacon for eggs to create a vege version of the bacon hash.

Expect to spend…
$20 per person

The service is…
At the counter. Friendly most of the time.

Avoid if…
You are unwilling to try the bacon hash.

Thirty Nine Cafe
39 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
Open 7 days
http://www.zomato.com/auckland/thirty-nine-cafe-ponsonby

20. Mamak Malaysian Restaurant

In celebration of Auckland Restaurant Month, I will be posting 31 quick-fire reviews on 31 restaurants and cafes in the Auckland CBD and city fringe.

mamak

The atmosphere is…
Chancery Chic meets Malaysian street food. If you haven’t been to the Chancery, when it first opened, the cobble-stoned centre was very fancy. Now most of the stores have changed hands though the architecture remains. Very limited space inside so most of the seating is outdoors, they have heaters and big umbrellas for cold, wet nights.

Come here for…
Home made style Malaysian street food. A small selection of Malaysian main courses, drinks and appetisers. All at a food hall prices. Lots of tasty appetisers which are great for sharing.

The most interesting thing on the menu…

  • Nasi Lemak with ikan bilis (fried anchovies)
  • Spicy soft shell crab

Unexpectedly wonderful…

  • Roti – made on site
  • Beef Rendang
  • Satay Chicken

I would come back to try…
Their laksa – These steaming bowls of spiced noodles are are huge and popular. I must see what the fuss is about.

Catering to…
Omni, vegetarians and vegan. Many of the appetisers are vegetarian. Chilli lovers and not. Vegetarian and spice ratings marked on every menu item. Mamak is Halal.

Expect to spend…
$15-$25 per person

The service is…
Very good. Friendly and if you are unsure they can guide you through ordering.

Avoid if…
You don’t like Malaysian or Asian food. Some dishes are spicy but if you do not like spice, there are a few dishes you can eat.

Mamak Malaysian Restaurant
Chancery Square, 50 Kitchener Street, Auckland CBD
Open every day except Monday
https://www.facebook.com/mamak.nz

mamak2

19. DeBretts Kitchen

In celebration of Auckland Restaurant Month, I will be posting 31 quick-fire reviews on 31 restaurants and cafes in the Auckland CBD and city fringe.

hotel-debrett-02

The atmosphere is…debretts
An expansive atrium that is brightly lit and surprisingly warm. A bit posh with bright coloured furniture and arty decor. What you might expect for an upmarket hotel restaurant.

Come here for…
Date night, special occasions, fine food and drink.

The most interesting thing on the menu…

  • Welsh rarebit souffle with quail egg, caramelised onion, rye
  • Roasted hapuka, spiced pumpkin, wild rice, yoghurt
  • Roasted quail with butter milk, baby beetroot, puff grain, sour cherry

Unexpectedly wonderful…

  • The artistic, thoughtful desserts
  • Both pink breast and tender confit in their duck dish

I would come back to try…

  • The pre-show dinner ($45 for 2 courses and a glass of wine).
  • The $35 lunch special which includes an entree, main and dessert served in one course and a glass of wine.

Catering to…
Limited menu catering to most appetites. No allergy info marked on menu.  Only one vegetarian starter and one vegetarian main on offer. There are no vegetarian options on their special menus.

Expect to spend…
$45-$80 per person

The service is…
Wonderful. We spent a good 2 hours dining and never felt rushed. Water was topped up regularly and the pacing was excellent.

Avoid if…
On a tight budget or you just want food to refuel.

Auckland Restaurant Month special:
$55 FOR TWO COURSES
Options include roasted quail with buttermilk, baby beetroot, puffed grains and sour cherries and roasted hapuka with spiced pumpkin, yogurt, wild rice and winter leaves.

DeBretts Kitchen
Hotel DeBrett, 2 High Street, Auckland CBD
Open 7 days
www.hoteldebrett.com/kitchen

hotel-debrett-01  hotel-debrett-03 hotel-debrett-04 hotel-debrett-05 hotel-debrett-06 hotel-debrett-outside01 hotel-debrett-outside02 hotel-debrett-07

Anticipating Street Eats 2014

streeteats
Photos from our Street Eats visit last year.

A highlight of Auckland Restaurant Month is Street Eats this Saturday. Once again in the covered Shed 10 on Queens Wharf, this is a free, family-friendly event. See my review of the first Street Eats last year here.

Last year, my friend Coco and I sampled five different $5 dishes between us for $25 plus a $6 beer each making it less than $20 per person. Staying pretty true to street food, we ate deep fried food, food on sticks and pizza.

This year I might splash out with $30 or $40 so I can try a few more dishes and perhaps another tipple.

I hope they have the deep fried milk again (pictured top row, middle). It’s been a year since I had it and I’m hoping I can eat it again. If you have never tried deep fried milk, you are missing out. It’s like eating the silkiest deep fried custard. It’s magic. Worth burning your mouth for.

Tips for Street Eats

  • Bring an appetite
  • Bring a friend to share dishes with
  • Bring cash (the EFTPOS line is 9652 miles long)
  • Go early, before noon, as many places sell out early
  • Park in the Viaduct $6 all day carpark or take public transport

Restaurants you’ll find at Street Eats include Bellota​, Besos LatinosFISHImaCuisineIVillageL’AssietteLe Garde-MangerMerchants of Venice, MexicoMonsoon PoonOrleansThai StreetThe Food TruckThe Grill, Toto PizzaUrban Turban and Y Not.

For information on Auckland Restaurant Month, visit the event website here: www.heartofthecity.co.nz/restaurant-month

5785_650_200

 

18. Ima Cuisine

In celebration of Auckland Restaurant Month, I will be posting 31 quick-fire reviews on 31 restaurants and cafes in the Auckland CBD and city fringe.

IMA-01

The atmosphere is…ima
Warm and cozy. Bookshelves full of books, a welcoming mural, beautifully patterned lit ceiling and low light make for lovely ambience. On the quiet end of Fort Street, once you are inside you feel like you’ve stepped into another world. The smallish dining area can feel a bit noisy and full though so be prepared if you’re looking for a quiet night out.

Come here for…
Middle Eastern, Israeli and North African inspired healthy and hearty food. Ima means mother in Hebrew and family-style dining is celebrated here. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The most interesting thing on the menu…

  • Brik – North African delicacy. A crisp fried parcel with fresh tuna preserved lemon and a soft cooked egg
  • The range of vegetarian sides

Unexpectedly wonderful…

  • Mezze – especially the spice roasted cauliflower
  • Arab rice – lentil pine nuts almonds pistachios and caramelized onions

I would come back to try…

  • A main course all to myself (we shared our meal as a large group which was a fun way to try a few dishes)
  • Knafeh – an Arabic dessert of mozzarella, pastry and sugar syrup.

Catering to…
Everyone. Plenty of vegetarian options, vegan options available on request. All the sides and mezze vegetarian. All the sides and mains are gluten-free. Gluten-free bread available. Dietary/allergen options are unmarked on menu so discuss your requirements with your waiter.

Expect to spend…
$30-45 per person

The service is…
Casual, friendly and accommodating.

Avoid if…
You love meat and dislike vegetables. The meat portions are small here and it is the vegetable dishes that really shine.

Auckland Restaurant Month special:
$40 PER PERSON FOR TWO SHARED COURSES, SIDES AND A GLASS OF WINE
Includes a shared mezze to start, with your choices of lamb, chicken, haloumi or sabich and sides for two. Served with a glass of pinot gris or syrah.

Ima Cuisine
57 Fort Street, Auckland CBD
Open every day except Sunday
www.imacuisine.co.nz

*please excuse the photos, the lighting is rather dim and I refuse to use flash.

IMA-03 IMA-05 IMA-08 IMA-09 IMA-10

IMA-02

The Cult of Foodies

LATE-01

On Monday I went to Late at The Museum. It is the first in the series for this year and this month’s edition was The Cult of Food in conjunction with Auckland Restaurant Month.

Located in Auckland Museum’s events centre on top of the museum, the space has 360° night views of the city and harbour. The night was hosted by Aucklander Jesse Mulligan who you might know from TV or radio or Metro magazine or his food blog which is generically cleverly named the Auckland Food Blog. Providing both comic relief and a relaxed tone for his guests and panelists: Professors Rod Jackson and Grant Schofield provided insightful academic banter while celebrity chefs Al Brown and Anne Thorp provided the foodie perspective.

LATE-02

The panelists nominated 4 dishes to be voted on for New Zealand’s national dish. Each panelist gave their reasoning for their nomination.

Nominations for New Zealand’s national dish:

  • Al Brown: Fritters
  • Grant Schofield: Lamb roast
  • Anne Thorp: Fish and spuds
  • Rod Jackson: Chicken and bread

I found Rod Jackson’s reasoning very interesting. Of the meat and carbs available to us today (and every other day), New Zealanders are mostly eating chicken and bread. Unfortunately, ubiquity doesn’t equate national or iconic. For something to be iconic, it needs to represent our values as a nation. It needs to be what we think of when we think of the national dish.

Therefore, Grant Schofield’s nominated Lamb Roast won. We might only eat a lamb roast half a dozen times a year, but that is where our values are.

#Hangry

Boy was I hungry! Speaking to a sold out event, it was clear that Aucklanders are passionate about food. As the event was ran 6pm until 9.30pm, we were hungry for dinner and ready to order from the menu posted online. Unfortunately, the event was severely under-catered. Twitter was alive with hashtags like #Hangry and #WhereIsMyDinner and some left at half time break in search of dinner. It was torture having to endure the food talk on a growling stomach but I persevered.

LATE-03

Raw

After the break, Megan May from Little Bird Unbakery showed us how to make 2 raw food dishes that we got to sample. It was interesting, entertaining and delicious. Just enough to tie me over until I ate dinner afterwards. I liked Megan’s approach to raw food and how anyone could introduce a little raw food into their diet. It is not a strict all or nothing diet, do what feels good to you.

LATE-05 LATE-06

An enjoyable evening and a great way to spend $20. I hope they do more food related events at The Museum!

Tips for Late at The Museum:

  • There is no value in being extra early, on time is fine
  • Get in the food line early
  • …or bring snacks “just in case”
  • …or eat before the event
  • There are 2 sets of elevators on the far side that no one seems to know about

Other interesting tidbits:

  • Bluff oysters are the darling of New Zealand foodies.
  • The number one selling item in New Zealand supermarkets is Coca Cola 1.5L.
  • In the ’60s chicken was exotic and served only at Christmas. Lamb and beef were our everyday meats. Today lamb is a special occasion meat and chicken is most common.
  • Margarine once required a doctor’s prescription.
  • New Zealanders are getting fatter but very slowly and we are eating better food.
  • All the panelists seemed to agree that as a nation, we were eating too much bread. It was also agreed that whole foods were important and processed foods should be avoided where possible.
  • The verdict on butter was undecided.

For information on Auckland Restaurant Month, visit the event website here: www.heartofthecity.co.nz/restaurant-month

For more information on the Auckland Museum, visit their website here: http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/whats-on/evenings/late/season-seven/the-cult-of-food

LATE-04

17. Cereal Killa

In celebration of Auckland Restaurant Month, I will be posting 31 quick-fire reviews on 31 restaurants and cafes in the Auckland CBD and city fringe.

cereal-killa-1

cereal-killa-logo

The atmosphere is…
Busy, airy and light but located in a crappy part of Dominion Road.

Come here for…
Not your average brunch. Eating on the way to/from weekend morning errands.

The most interesting thing on the menu…

  • Coconut porridge with pear, ginger and rhubarb.

Unexpectedly wonderful…

  • Their coffee.

I would come back to try…

  • Pancakes with bacon, banana, vanilla mascarpone & blueberry caramel
  • Creamy herbed mushrooms on sour dough

Catering to…
Everyone. Plenty of vegetarian options and gluten free bread available on request. Kid friendly: there are 6 items on their kids menu.

Expect to spend…
$20-$30 per person

The service is…
Friendly and efficient. We had a few different servers but we were watered, coffees and fed in quick succession.

Avoid if…
You don’t like people experimenting with your breakfast.

Cereal Killa
360 Dominion Road, Mt Eden
Open 7 days
www.cerealkilla.co.nz

cereal-killa-2