All posts tagged: Restaurant

Cocktails and dumplings

This week I tried First Table, a booking website which gives users an early-bird special. Each booking gives the first table of diners (groups of two to four) a generous 50% off their food bill. Food includes dessert and there is no maximum spend. That’s right, no maximum spend. Whether you order $50 or $500 worth of food, you pay half price. While drinks are not included in the special, it’s good to note that your visit may happen to coincide with happy hour at some establishments. First Table currently have about 40 Auckland restaurants to choose from (including The Commons, Pilkingtons, Everybody’s) and covers 16 other regions in New Zealand. The website is easy to use and bookings cost $10 each and can be made up to 6 days prior. Spaces are very limited as there is only 1 first table per day, per restaurant. If you are flexible with dining times or like to eat early and love a great deal, then First Table is perfect for you. After browsing their list of Auckland restaurants, …

Hiakai means “hungry”

Māori cuisine is curiously uncommon in our culinary landscape. Growing up in the Māori wonderland of Rotorua, I enjoyed many hangi as a kid. I just didn’t appreciate or understand how special it was until we moved to Auckland and there were no more hangi. For those not from around here, hangi is a traditional Māori technique of cooking food underground, using heated rocks and covered baskets. It involves a lot of digging and a lot of time and is thus reserved for special occasions on marae (Māori meeting houses) such as weddings and funerals. For most New Zealanders, Māori cuisine is not an everyday occurrence and even tourists visiting our country will struggle to find Māori cuisine. Searching “hangi” on Zomato comes up with one result and both “boil up” and “Māori” yield no results. None. I know of one cafe in Auckland serving Rewena bread as part of their menu, but it’s not like I can just go out and enjoy Māori food whenever I want. The industry just doesn’t look like that. Yet. In contrast, searching “sushi”, “butter …

Zomato Bloggers Meet Up: Le Chef

The premise It’s been over a year since my last Zomato Meet Up and this week, I attended my first Zomato Blogger’s Meet Up at Le Chef on Vulcan Lane. We dined as guests of Zomato and Le Chef though all opinions are my own. The setting was romantic, the company was delightful, and other bloggers present were: Carli from The Enthusiastic Cook, Laura from Laura Laura, Maddy from Madicattt, and Georgie from Georgieats – all of who I’ve eaten with several times. I interviewed Le Chef owner Edouard Le Goff for my Auckland Restaurant Month series last year when they had their other branch (you can read it here) and it was great to put a name to a face (and a food to a belly). Edouard was exactly as I imagined, very French, very enthusiastic and answered all our questions with ease. The restaurant Le Chef is located in quiet spot on a charming, cobbled pedestrian-only lane in the city. Tucked away from the bustle of Queen Street, Le Chef channels rustic and romantic French charm. I’ve never been to France but it’s on …

Crispy fried chicken skins and sweet drinks at PappaRich Auckland

PappaRich is a franchise serving up Malaysian classics across Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and very recently, Auckland. The first New Zealand store was promised for months on social media (I know because I was waiting patiently) and their loyal expat fans were insistent, verging on enraged that their beloved store opening was delayed. I think some people would have rammed the doors down if they thought it would get them a PappaRich meal earlier. Set on Level 1 of the SkyCity Metro complex (aka “IMAX”) on Queen Street in the city, this is a full size restaurant with all the furnishings and bright lighting you might expect from an international franchise. After soft opening for a couple of weeks, I was invited to the official opening a few weeks back where my sister and I, and others including bloggers Cecilia from Ultimate OmNoms and Sheena from As Told By Sheena. I was born in Hong Kong but grew up in New Zealand and I grew up eating Chinese/Malaysian food. So much to the point that I assumed it was Cantonese food …

Fiercely seasonal in the Bombay Hills

A regular contender at Taste of Auckland, Bracu’s elegant dishes are celebration of quality local produce. Bracu has always been foodie destination on my “one day” list. They also do weddings and even though we visited on a wet spring day, it’s easy to picture a glorious sunny day in the micro-climate of the Bombay Hills. Bracu (pronounced brah-KOO) is set within the 96 hectares of Simunovich Olive Estate who produce olive oils and olive-based beauty products. You can enjoy claybird shooting, archery or even knife throwing if you prefer, before relaxing over food and wine in the idyllic setting of Bracu. Think rolling hills, thousands of olive trees, and country luxury.   Last week, I was invited to sample from the new spring menu at Bracu. Spring must be a dream for chefs, especially when there are items that are so fiercely seasonal. You get to play with these bright and delicate flavours for just a short period of time and if you’re lucky, you get suppliers that have all sorts of weird and …

Auckland Eats for Bastille Day

Tuesday 14 July is Bastille Day. In France, it is called La Fête Nationale or Le quatorze juillet (fourteenth of July). This marks the start of the French Reveloution in 1789 and the first anniversary in 1790 a year later. In France there will be fireworks and parades. Here is a list of Auckland restaurants and their Bastille Day celebrations. >> Click on the restaurant names to visit their websites. La Cigale 69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell Bastille Day celebration $75pp for 3 courses. Expect dishes such as beef Tartare, snails, duck a l’orange. Prize for most French looking table Touquet 23 O’Connelll Street, CBD. Tourquet have a 3 course set menu for Bastille Day: A flute of French sparkling wine, pork and venison terrine, blanquette de veu (veal casserole), creme brulee and madeleine. $58pp. Cheese course for an extra $25. Their regular menu will also be available. La Fourchette 8C Turua Street, St Heliers 3 course set menu with Veuve Clicquot champagne. $70pp. Salmon Tartare or Greek Artichokes or Escargots s/ in Garlic and Tomato Ragout. Pavé de Boeuf, château potatoes, spinach …

Monday Bunday: The White Rabbit

Monday Bunday went on holiday last week, I don’t know if anyone noticed but today I present a double whammy Monday Bunday rolled into a restaurant review. I recently joined the NZ-based bloggers group #brunchclub. Here, bloggers can network, share tips and advice on all things blog related and of course, meet regularly for brunch. On Saturday, I attended my very first#brunchclub meetup. I was super excited not only to meet local bloggers (some who I have followed for a while) but also because it was at a newish cafe/bar/restaurant called The White Rabbit. This week’s Monday Bunday is a review this visit. History of the space The White Rabbit is in downtown Auckland on the corner of Customs Street and Gore Street, where the slightly dingy pub Rose & Crown and later Britomart Brewery used to be. The building, originally known as Hotel Britomart was established in 1864, just a year before Lewis Carroll published Alice in Wonderland. Painted white and fitted out in Scandinavian inspired light fittings, the space is light, bright and very white. …

31. Welcome Eatery

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. The atmosphere is… A big space with business customers and very cheery staff. Their mantra is “Fast, Fresh & Friendly”. Some nice graphic elements (hand painted lettering) if you are into that sort of thing (I am). Come here for… Big smiles and a big feed. A good place to take clients to for a bite, coffee and a little work. The most interesting thing on the menu… Polenta with bean ragu and goats cheese Unexpectedly wonderful… Braised beef cheek sandwich, juicy and tender. I would come back to try… Some of the nice looking cabinet food. Client meetings with good food. Catering to… Breakfast and lunch office workers. The menu is short but evolving. Healthy and raw options. Heaps of cabinet food. Plenty of vegetarian options. Expect to spend… $10-$20 per person The service is… Overwhelmingly friendly. Very attentive. Avoid if… Friendly strangers frighten you. Welcome Eatery Orion Building, 181 Grafton …

30. Ortolana

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.   The atmosphere is… An airy, light-filled conservatory space with a bistro/cafe inside. Beautifully designed, the space reflects the food. Ortolana is your cool cousin who went away for a year to study in Italy and came back with big words and designer clothes that made people either roll their eyes or immediately worship her. Come here for… Fancy European style food using fresh ingredients. They claim their food is simple I feel it’s verging on pretentious. The food has a lightness to it that will appeal to clean eaters. A menu worthy of it’s own Google Search or culinary dictionary. Some words feel like they’re made up. Best to close your eyes, point at something and hope it’s a good one. Could be a good place to impress someone. The most interesting thing on the menu… Things I cannot pronounce such as: Nooch Escabeche Stracciatella Gnudi Olio nuovo Fazzoletti Pillus Cotoletta Pangritata Unexpectedly wonderful… …

29. Besos Latinos

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. The atmosphere is… Latin American art and motifs set the scene: flowers, candles, a water fountain and religious motifs. A big space with exposed brick walls and high ceilings. A hacienda courtyard comes to mind. Mexican artist Cecilia Mijangos, partner Executive Chef Luis Cabrera and their crew bring a uniquely authentic Latin American experience. The music is spot on. A lot fancier than your average taqueria (taco shop). Come here for… South American inspired food. Traditional dishes from Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Cuba, Uruguay, Jamaica , as well as Latin American cocktails, wines and beers. Great for both groups and intimate dinners. The most interesting thing on the menu… Foot long tacos Palitos de Queso – Fried Blue cheese sticks wrapped in pastry stuffed with dried cranberries Venezuelan Arepa – Venezuelan corncake stuffed with cheese and beef or chicken Unexpectedly wonderful… Their classic margaritas Flan Frida Kahlo (creme caramel) …

28. Cafe People

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. The atmosphere is… Gorgeous artwork by local artist Flox at the entrance. The cafe decor itself is all clean lines and white chairs. Pretty minimal.  Mostly families having brunch when we visited. Come here for… Brunch or lunch. The most interesting thing on the menu… Breakfast salad Croque Monsier Unexpectedly wonderful… Coffee Their baked beans I would come back to try… Moroccan lamb Catering to… Omnis and vegies. Vegetarian and gluten free options available but unmarked. Business lunch crowd, they have a boardroom that can be hired out. Expect to spend… $20-30 per person The service is… Friendly. Avoid if… You have another favourite brunch spot. This place won’t scratch that. Cafe People 38 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby Open 7 days http://www.cafepeople.co.nz  

27. Antoine’s

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. The atmosphere is… Hushed but homely…if your home is an expensive house in Parnell. Feels posh but comfortable. Music playing at an almost inaudible level. On the evening we visited, there was more staff than diners. Come here for… Nostalgic (1970’s) fine dining with table service. We came to find out why Antoine’s has been in business for over 40 years. The most interesting thing on the menu… Sautéed lamb brains with leek tartare, black pudding, tempura snails and teriyaki vinaigrette Antoine’s tripe served in a cream, sherry, onion and green peppercorn sauce The specials of the day included a dish with a beef tendon spring roll Unexpectedly wonderful… The complimentary bread roll. The hushed, attentive service. Huge portions of meat which were very tender. I would come back to try… Their Chicken, leek and wild mushroom pie…if someone else was paying. I love pies so I’m just curious what a …

26. Maldito Mendez

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. The atmosphere is… Strangely European for a South American/Latin spot. Come here for… Lots of small tasty snacks to be shared. Fresh food with bright flavours. The most interesting thing on the menu… Confit duck mole Unexpectedly wonderful… Tacos – they are not your average taco I would come back to try… Their ceviche Catering to… The Ponsonby crowd. Omnis and vegetarians. Vegetarian options unmarked. Vegan options available on request. Gluten free status unknown. Expect to spend… $30-$50 per person The service is… Good. Well oiled. Avoid if… You are on a budget. The dishes are small and you’ll probably want 2 or 3 dishes per person. Maldito Mendez Ponsonby Central, 4 Brown Street, Ponsonby, Auckland Open 7 days http://www.mendez.co.nz

25. Ironique

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. The atmosphere is… Busy with unique decor to the Ironique theme. Lots of ambience. The small front opens up to a seating out back and even more seating outside. Come here for… Breakfast, brunch or lunch. All the usual suspects. They also serve dinner. The most interesting thing on the menu… Fried porridge Marinated squid salad Unexpectedly wonderful… Good coffee I would come back to try… Vegetarian big breakfast Catering to… Everyone. Gluten free and vegetarian options available. Eggs are free range. Expect to spend… $20-$30 per person. The service is… At the counter only. Avoid if… You want something a bit more unusual. Ironique Open 7 days http://ironique.freeiz.com/

24. Masu

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. The atmosphere is… A warm, honey interior with interesting architecture, several open kitchen areas and bar. Gets busy fast. There has been a lot of hype about Masu so understandably the place is humming. Come here for… 2014 Metro Magazine Restaurant of the Year Supreme Winner 2014 Metro Magazine Best New Restaurant 2014 Metro Magazine Best Smart Dining 2014 Metro Magazine Best Drinks List Finalist 2014 Metro Magazine Best Chef Finalist The most interesting thing on the menu… o-toro (fatty tuna) ise ebi no taco (crayfish, spicy miso taco) 100% japanese black wagyu beef sirloin – $100 per 150 grams Unexpectedly wonderful… Master stock baby back pork ribs, cashew nut, sancho salt. Tiger Tanaka – ginger-infused shochu, salted lychee and fresh ruby grapefruit, softened with sparkling sake. I would come back to try… More cocktails. Catering to… Japanese food lovers. Find diners. There is a dedicated gluten-free menu. Not many …

23. Lot23

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.   The atmosphere is… Light and airy, though in a “hard to find, you’ll never find it if you didn’t know it was there” spot. A small covered outdoor area out front. Come here for… Amazing coffee and unusual cafe food. The most interesting thing on the menu… Island style raw fish with kumara crisps Unexpectedly wonderful… Mushroom Ragout I would come back to try… Island style raw fish with kumara crisps Catering to… Creatives mostly due to the other businesses in the building. Vegetarian options abound. Gluten free options might be available but not marked on menu. Expect to spend… $20-30 per person The service is… Friendly. At the counter. Avoid if… You need to be seen when you go out. Lot23 23 Minnie Street, Eden Terrace Open Monday to Saturday http://www.lot23.co.nz     

22. The Fridge

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. The atmosphere is… A busy neighbourhood cafe. Small in front, walk down the stairs, through their humming kitchen to more seating downstairs and outside. Come here for… Pies. Really good pies in a range of flavours. Some lovely cabinet food and sweet treats. The most interesting thing on the menu… Beef & Guinness pie Moroccan lamb pie Steak & mozzarella pie Unexpectedly wonderful… Pies of course! I am also addicted to their Chicken and bacon caesar wrap. The anchovy mayo is amazing. I would come back to try… All the pies. Catering to… Ominis and veges. Not much for gluten free diners but gluten free toast available on request. Expect to spend… $15-$30 per person The service is… At the counter, friendly and efficient. Kitchen and coffees a bit slow when they are busy. Best to stick to pies and cabinet food if you are hungry or in a hurry. Avoid if… …

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. 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 …