Sunday, March 30, 2014

Naturally Fiordland, Te Anau

62 Town Centre
Te Anau,
Southland 9600

Naturally Fiordland is on the main street of Te Anau, known logically as Town Centre.

Both inside and out the feel was relaxed and cafe style, with a net over the ceiling and some great photo's hanging on the walls.

It was pretty quiet when we visited with only a few tables occupied.

We perused the menu, which offered Italian style pizza and pasta dishes, and then ordered at the counter, despite how quiet it was there was a reasonable wait before we got our meals.

The penne pasta was served with olives, roasted red peppers, pine nuts, pesto and parmesan. The small sliced olives were the only disappointing aspect of an otherwise good dish.

I had the funghi pizza, which was wood fired but had a very crispy base, which seemed to use a different dough to the more authentic Italian style pizzerias. There was also just a bit too much cheese in the topping mix for my preferences.

While the waitresses were both friendly, they didn't seem particularly focused, with tables left uncleared and a general feel of slight disorganisation. The vibe was relaxed and it was a pleasant place to dine in. Naturally Fiordland is a fair spot to have a casual meal if you are in town.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Moose Bar & Restaurant, Te Anau

84 Lakefront Drive
Te Anau
Southland 9600

We decided to eat at the Moose Bar because of its location across the street from the lake with views across to the sun setting over the mountains. It seemed to be the only restaurant in town with these views, and we found ourselves a table outside to enjoy the views. The menu was filled with pub style food options, including a range of $20 meals, orders are taken at the bar.

We both chose the oven baked fish from the $20 selection. It was served in a light white sauce with carrots, spinach and rice. There was plenty of fish which was fresh and cooked perfectly, the carrots perched on top of the dish were dry, but the spinach and rice were fine.

The service was friendly and casual as you'd expect at pub, it's not fine dining, but you don't need that when the views are so special.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Etrusco At The Savoy, Dunedin

8 Moray Place
Otago 9016

Up on the first floor of the ornate Victorian style Savoy building in central Dunedin, Etrusco seems to be a bit of a local institution.

The interior was as traditional as the exterior, in an almost kitsch way, with stained glass in the windows and chandelier style lighting. It was busy and humming on the Tuesday we visited.

The menu offered plenty of familiar pizza and pasta fayre. We ended up going for the plate of 3 pasta dishes for $45. The penne al verde was tossed in spinach and toasted pinenuts with a dash of cream and fresh parmesan and was the clear winner with the better half. The spaghetti alla marinara combined mussels, and shrimps with tomatoes, garlic and parsley and worked well. We had the puttanesca with penne rather than the standard spaghetti. The black olive, tomato and anchovy sauce was pleasant but didn't have quite the salty punch we'd expected.

The service from our Italian waitress was exuberant and helpful, but our meal did take well over half an hour to arrive and we were definitely ready for it when it arrived. The old school feel including a waiter taking a turn on the piano to provide live accompaniment to our meal made it a memorable experience and Etrusco is certainly worth checking out.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Plato, Dunedin

2 Birch Street
Otago 9016

Our journey, on foot to Plato was a bit of an adventure, as it is near the waterfront, across the railway lines from the centre of town, and there aren't many ways to cross. We eventually found it by a circuitous route, the return journey was a bit more straightforward, although did involve using a pedestrian part of a freeway style overpass.

The restaurant occupies the ground floor of a concrete seafarers centre.

Inside there was a lot of kitsch decoration livening up the space, despite being a Monday night it was packed when we visited.

The menu can vary daily and we found plenty of tempting items on offer.

The rib-eye fillet with garlic and tarragon mushrooms, on creamy mustard mashed potatoes with a rich beef jus looked great, and went down well. The side of roasted courgettes topped with dukkah was also a winner.

I had the elephant fish curry with okra, eggplant and potatoes. There was lots of great fish, the veggies were great, but the curry was a little heavy on the turmeric and light on spice.

The dish came with a curious set of accompaniments, including a great spicy lime pickle, chopped mango, tasty chopped cucumber and cumin seed, cucumber slices, and banana in desiccated coconut, which I left as a pseudo-desert.

The service was really friendly and despite the number of diners nicely paced. The meal came to $108 with a couple of glasses of wine and a beer. Plato is definitely worth seeking out!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thai Container, Christchurch

151 Bealey Avenue
St Albans
Christchurch 8013
021 139 4881

On the corner of busy Bealey Avenue and Caledonian Road the Thai Container is one of a number of fairly permanent food truck style eateries around Christchurch that seem to be filling some gaps in the food scene post earthquake.

The container itself is brightly decorated and forms one side of the establishment, containing the kitchen. An old school caravan houses the counter for orders and several tables provide an area for people to wait for their order and/or eat.

The menu covers most of what you'd expect and a little more.

We made our selections and sat down to wait, and eventually after checking once and a false start, our number was called and we picked up our dishes. It was just a bit to cold and the traffic a bit to heavy to be an ideal spot to loiter and enjoy our food, so we headed back to our motel to eat.

The prawn pad thai was nicely flavoured and well cooked.

I had a great chicken massaman, which balanced the sweat, spicy and nutty combination perfectly.

While it wouldn't be an ideal location for a date, the Thai Container certainly offers some tasty food for reasonable prices.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Akaroa Fish & Chip Shop

59 Beach Rd,

The fish and chip shop in Akaroa seemed pretty popular and claimed to be world renown, so we decided to give it a go while we were in town. It is on the main street along the foreshore straight across from the harbour.

The guy who took our order was fairly grumpy and didn't give us a great first impression. We didn't have to wait too long until our number was called out and then we headed across the road to enjoy the view and our meal. The grilled fish came carefully wrapped in a foil parcel with onion and tomato, and was the best takeaway grilled fish the better half had tried.

My fish of the day was perfect, just enough crisp batter covering the moist and succulent fresh fish, and the chips were great too. The only let down were the scallops, which are always added to the order!

It's been a while since we'd had fish and chips this good, so it's fair to say their claims are backed up. I doubt I'll be back in Akaroa anytime soom, but I know where I'll be headed for lunch if I am...

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Fomo Thai

171 Bourke Street
VIC 3000

I first visited Fomo Thai with some colleagues from work, it is housed in a former Fletcher Jones store on Bourke street, close to the junction with Russell. A few weeks later I returned with a different group, and I've updated this post since.

Inside the fit out was modern and stylish and it was pretty busy downstairs on the first visited, and a bit quieter at the end of the second visit.

At the back heading towards the stairs, you can glance into the kitchen.

Our table was upstairs, which was a little more laid back, but was still nicely furnished.

The serviette featured a cool design that continued the funky feel. The lunch menu was pretty extensive, with plenty of Thai standards and some less familiar options.

On the first occasion, I had the 'classic chilli basil' chicken Fomo lunch box, which for $12.50 contained minced chicken stir-fried with chilli and basil with rice topped with fried egg and small salad of fried tofu and leaves with sweet chilli sauce. The chicken was nicely spicy and all the flavours worked well together.

Second time around the lunch menu had shrunk a fair bit. I went for the old favourite of a veggie green curry,  which also contained tofu and was good without being great.

At both lunches the dishes the group ordered started appearing what seemed like seconds after the final order was taken, maybe that is a result of a prompt 12:30 start for lunch and computerised wireless ordering! The speed didn't seem to effect the quality of the food and all the diners seemed happy. The second time around the meals did arrive over a fair period of time, which with a smaller group was more noticeable and slightly frustrating. I've already returned once and would happily head back at some stage to try some of the other dishes.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

La Tortilleria

72 Stubbs Street
Victoria 3031

Tucked away from the main street through Flemington La Tortilleria is none the less easy to spot with a brightly coloured exterior amongst the surrounding offices and industrial units.

The side of the building sports a large mural too.

Inside the space is pretty small with the front section squeezed between a counter/bar area and windows into the tortilla production area, as this is not only a restaurant, but a maker of authentic Mexican tortillas, rather than the imitations more normally available. The tortillas can be purchased here as well.

When we first arrived there was a gas flame roaring beneath this huge mixing pot, later I missed the chance to snap the contents being stirred with what looked more like a spade than a spoon!

The entire establishment had what felt like a genuine Mexican feel to it, even if it was a little kitsch at times, including the salt and pepper pots...

A set of shelves were packed with Mexican groceries and topped with a skull.

We ordered some drinks, a Tecate beer which I hadn't tried before and enjoyed  and Margarita, which apparently didn't taste very strong, but appeared from its effects to be pretty potent.

We were brought a few tortillas some chilli sauce and salsa with our drinks which was a great introduction of what was to come.

We ended up selecting a set menu of 6 dishes for $30 a head, and I went for the vegetarian version. First to arrive was the guacamole totopos, homemade tortillas chips with guacamole and the same two dips we'd had earlier, all of which we devoured rapidly.

Next up were the empanadas, stone ground corn dough parcels in this case filled with cactus with cheese, a surprisingly tasty combination.

The third plate featured both a frijoles quesadilla stuffed wuth white cheese and beans and a tostadita de tinga re-fried black beans, chicken for the carnivores,  lettuce and 'crema', both of which were both simple, satisfying and full of flavour.

Finally we received a couple of tacos, beef and pork for the meat eater, with small chunks of meat rather than mince.

The veggie tacos had a melange of vegetables in a tomato based sauce which tasted better than it photographed.

We enjoyed all the dishes we tried, they felt wholesome as well being packed with flavour. The vibe was very friendly despite being pretty packed, we were glad we'd booked a table. The bill came to around $80 with a few drinks and this is another reason for us to cross the Maribyrnong to sample some of the excellent authentic dining options in Flemmington.

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