Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hallertau Brewery

1171 Coatesville-Riverhead Highway
New Zealand

The Hallertau Brewery was the site for the final lunch of lunch on our trip to New Zealand, a short dive out of Auckland, but it felt like we could have been much further away. The interior has some German references, which also where the name comes from. There is a fair amount of focus on the beer, but also lunch and dinner menu's.

The paddle gives the opportunity of  trying out 5 of the different beers brewed.

The fish and chips looked great and was a generous serving.

The club sandwich was almost impractically large, with smoked chicken, avocado mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. It proved easier to consume after being disassembled!

I had the venison burger which came with onion jam, red cabbage coleslaw, leaves and mayo in a bun that could just about be eaten! It was probably my first venison burger and the first time I'd eaten the meat for a good while. It was overly strong in flavour, and a little on the dry side, perhaps slightly overdone. At least it was a good way to get a burger fix whilst being relatively healthy...

The fish of the day was presented with more panache than the other dishes and was apparently very good, it came with a lentil and cranberry salad.

We were able to enjoy a relaxed Sunday lunch and catch up with friends before our departure without being hurried out, and it was a great spot to spend our last few hours before jumping on the plane. The beer wasn't bad either.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Haru no Yume Japanese Cuisine, Freemans Bay

3 Vernon Street
Freemans Bay

On a quiet side street in Freeman's Bay Haru no Yume restaurant aims to "provide a real touch of Japan". The name means Dream of Spring and their "dream is for our customers to fall in love with our food."

It was fairly quiet when arrived on a Saturday evening, but a few other tables filled up while ate. The decor was modern with plenty of Japanese touches and lots of fairy lights.

We shared a very large can of Asahi and small jug of saki, personally I prefer the beer.

The Edamame, boiled green beans in flaky sea salt were frustrating fun to consume whilst we perused the menu.

We shared the rainbow roll sushi, which seemed to be a big inside-out California roll with fresh sashimi on top which all combined well.

The Miso soup came with the welcome addition or a shitake mushroom.

The beef tataki, very rare sliced scotch fillet resembled carpaccio.

I had the seafood salad featuring fresh salmon, teriyaki teppan scallops and prawns with leaves and seaweed salad. The greens complimented the excellent seafood.

The Chicken teriyaki looked good.

The service was friendly and the bill came to around $100, it was easy to see why it was a popular spot for our hosts.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Canton Cafe, Kingsland

477 New North Rd
Auckland 1021

Some local friends suggested Canton Cafe as a good place to get together for dinner for seven of us. We arrived and secured our large round table in the already busy establishment and arranged our BYO drinks, apparently this is less common in NZ than "Aussie" as the locals call it. The decor was fairly basic and the table cloths were plastic - a very practical choice! We ordered several dishes to share between the table, after being warned each portion would be on the large size.

The first to arrive was the (half) Peking Duck which was still a good size to share between us all, and came along with plenty of pancakes, which seemed to be more like mini tortillas but good all the same. The duck as tender and flavoursome and it disappeared quickly as we all tucked in.

The chicken with ginger and spring onion filled the hot plate and contained generous amounts of well prepared poultry.

The locals insisted on ordering the special black chilli king prawns and they were black and also tasty, spicy, without destroying the prawn flavour.

Salt and pepper squid featured big pieces of pieces of crisply coated cephalopod.

I only tried a bit of the pork and prawn fried rice, but it was very popular.

The Chinese vegetables with garlic contained a mix of bok choy, choy sum,beans, snow peas and broccoli and provided a slightly healthier component to the meal.

The service was efficient and to the point, not too much fussing around with pleasantries, but focused on delivering food to the many busy tables! The bill came to $25 each and it's a great spot to get together with a group of diners for a lively meal.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Copthorne Hotel, Hokianga

State Highway 12
New Zealand
+64 9 405 8737
The Copthorne Hotel in Omapere overlooking Hokianga harbour was recommended to us by the manager of our accommodation in Opononi, so we decided to give it a try. It is a mid-sized modern hotel on the harbour side of the road with the restaurant and bar opening on to a terrace with lawns running down to the water. We got a table on the edge of the terrace with fantastic views across the water and towards the Tasman sea and the dipping sun. The menu included a few dishes with native ingredients, and plenty of local produce.

Continuing a trend the Calamari entrée we shared was huge, plenty for both of us to enjoy. The squid was tender and the coating complimented it well.

I decided to go for the healthy option of quinoa with native pepper, tzatziki, tomato marmalade (or was it jam) and pita bread. The combination of textures and flavours combined pleasantly, and it certainly felt like a wholesome dish while still being great to eat.

The prawn and chorizo linguine with native asparagus, which more closely resembled spinach was also well produced although it was slightly on the oily side.

The side dish of green beans with garlic butter was perfectly prepared and was a good compliment to both dishes, and as you can just about see it was mostly garlic and very little butter!

As we at the sun followed it's arc to the horizon, putting on an awesome show. In fact plenty of other diners walked out to snap shots of it. The service was great, friendly informative and well paced. We were even brought a second candle as it got dark. The meals were reasonably priced with mains from $22 up to $40, and the location and quality certainly mark it out as a place to visit if you are in the area.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Duke of Marlborough Hotel

35 The Strand,
Bay of Islands, NZ
+64 9 403 7829

The Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell has been "Refreshing Rascals and Reprobates since 1827"  and was apparently New Zealand’s first licensed hotel. The strand runs along the foreshore and the Hotel is across the road from the pebble beach, as Russell faces west the sunsets over Paihai can be beautiful. The building is fairly traditional and reasonably grand, we booked a table on the restaurant deck. It was a little more formal than the bar area next door.

The menu featured plenty of locally sourced food, including plenty of fish and seafood. We shared the Te Ika Mata to start, which contained marinated white fish with coconut, lime and coriander served on
pickled cucumber ribbons, this was quite rich, and the portion was large, the snap only shows a small piece on my plate. It was good to share but may be a bit much for one person on its own.

I went for the 'Bay of Islands Bouillabaisse' for my main, this arrived in a cast iron pot and was packed with huge local green lip mussels, cockles and prawns which had been steamed in a tomato and saffron broth with two different local fish and served with warm bread. Everything was perfectly cooked and the produce was clearly very fresh, the flavours in the combined really well.

The Northland Fish of the Day was local snapper and came with lime and coriander prawns, a spinach-potato crush and fresh herbed pesto. Again this was great dish!

The service was very efficient and friendly almost a little too omnipresent at first. The food and view make a visit worthwhile if you are in the area.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Helena Bay Hill Cafe

1392 Old Russell Road,
Northland 0184
New Zealand

Friends recommended a visit to the Gallery & Café Helena Bay Hill on our way towards the Bay of Islands and as we drove past and spied the view, we decided to give it a go. We were greeted in the car park by two huge friendly dogs.

The cafe deck area was light and airy and made the most of the surrounding trees and plants as well as the view.

The menu was fairly brief, but had more on it than the snippet below.

We both ended up choosing the seafood chowder, which was packed with fish and decent sized mussels, and was topped with a prawn. The lemon gave the soup some extra zing and worked really well. We ended up having a couple more chowders over our stay, but this one was the best.

The spectacular views and great soup made for a good stop, we had a little wait for our food, as a largish group had arrived not long before us, but that wasn't too much of a problem, and the service was friendly.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bolliwood, Ponsonby

110 Ponsonby Road
Ponsonby 1011,
New Zealand
It's hard to miss Bolliwood on Ponsonby Road with its blue star like lights illuminating the awning and a large bright sign.

Inside the decor was modern and appropriately a large screen showed bollywood clips. We were visiting on a Monday evening and the offer of curry dishes for $10 including rice had tempted in quite a crowd.

We shared the prawn pakoras cooked in chick pea batter which were crunchy and well cooked.

The Pappadums with Indian dips were perhaps the best presented I've ever had, they did the job, although a super spicy dip was missing from my ideal selection.

We shared several mains the kadhai chicken cooked with capsicum, onion, ginger and garlic, with a touch of coriander, herbs and spices was probably the favourite. The beef vindaloo wasn't quite as red hot as advertised on the menu or we had expected. The mild vegetable korma was pleasant and the Chana Masala, which arrived with a mini salad on top contained a tasty mix of chick peas in a blend of spices.

The service was efficient but fell into the slightly pushy territory trying to get us to order extra's. Other than that though it was a good meal and worth a try if you like your Indian restaurants on the more bling end of the spectrum!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brew on Quay, Auckland

102 Quay Street,

Brew on Quay occupies an impressive old building on Quay Street opposite the Auckland docks.

Inside it reminded me of an English style pub, and had many different beers on offer, both on tap and in bottles.

We shared a few dishes with our drinks, the grilled halloumi disappeared quickly!

The salt and pepper squidwas tender and had a slightly crunchy coating.

The Thai fish cakes were more of a fusion of a British style breadcrumbed cake with thai flavours, which after the initial surprise turned out to work well.

The service was very friendly and it's certainly not a bad option.

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