Black Frog Cafe, Kingsland

Black Frog Cafe, Kingsland

Black Frog Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Anyone who knows me well, knows that my favourite meal of the day is breakfast. Eggs and bacon make my heart explode with joy.. I kid you not! I make a mean fry-up – if I do say so myself – and so we most often eat breakfast at home in our free time. Occasionally though, to spare my husband doing dishes, we venture out in search of the best eggs around.

Black Frog Cafe is situated in the lovely suburb of Kingsland, on the ever expanding New North Road. It has a rather inconspicuous entrance that you would miss if you weren’t paying attention, as there is not much space to sit out on the sidewalk. Look out for the French flag and head on inside as it has an awesomely lit sun room at the back of the shop overlooking the train station and Sandringham road.

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The cafe boasts french cuisine with a hint of Kiwi and is run by owner Guillaume and his team. It is in many ways authentically french as most of the pastries, croissants and breads are actually regularly imported from France. Guillaume is not only a good cook but clearly has green fingers too as there are a number of beautiful plants spread around the room.

We kicked the morning off with some orange juice and delicious coffee, then settled on Eggs Benedict (NZD 23) and a Kiwi breakfast in a Galettes (NZD 19.5). Our waiter was really friendly and the dishes we received were as pretty as a picture. Best of all though, it was all delicious with perfectly poached, soft eggs! Eggs Benedict is always a surprise, as no one chef makes it taste the same and so I am happy to report that this one got my full nod of approval!  The Galettes was an interesting twist on a regular breakfast and was really filling – definitely worth a try.

And then in case we hadn’t stuffed ourselves enough.. We settled on a french pudding made of blended croissants and a dollop of cream, just to try out something new. Yum!

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They are open for breakfast and lunch every day of the week and serve dinner Thursday through to Sunday. A lovely spot to just hang out and enjoy good food!

  • food – 4/5
  • price – 3.5/5
  • service – 4/5
  • atmosphere – 3.5/5

 

Cotto, Karangahape Road

Cotto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

There is something so exciting about the infamous K Road. It’s reputation is rather controversial but I don’t think anyone can deny the buzz that accompanies it.

I stumbled onto Cotto and was looking forward to trying it out as it is quite highly reviewed by the Zomato community. They don’t take phone bookings and it is certainly popular, so we were squeezed in and offered an hour time limit. The tables are mostly shared like many restaurants in Auckland, but we didn’t feel cramped or that we were invading our neighbour’s space.

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Most dishes are NZD 20 or less and the idea is to order a few plates and share food. We started with Chickpea smoked mozzarella chips with almond aioli (NZD 15) and quickly realized we would never get to eating other dishes if we finished them all. I was hoping the little deep-fried sticks would be more cheesy but they are closer to polenta in texture. They were lathered in salt on the outside and I found that to be rather overpowering.

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Next up we tried the Lamb ribs with honey balsamic glaze (NZD 15). The meat was tender and they were nice and crispy but they were quite fatty and really lacked seasoning.

Our favourite savoury dish for the evening was the Spinach, goats cheese and sage ‘dumplings’ (NZD 15). I was expecting something more in-line with stereotypical dumplings but I suppose being Italian, that was maybe not the best assumption to make. High quality ingredients and subtle flavours – the combination was delicious.

For the main meal we had the Rotolo beef cheek served on porcini béchamel (NZD 20). Having grown up on a farm covered in Oak Trees where freshly picked porcini mushrooms are a regular occurence I was looking forward to the rich, earthy flavours that I am familiar with. Unfortunately there was barely a hint of that goodness in the béchamel. Certainly the most eye-catching dish of them all and one I was looking most forward to, but it was also totally under-salted with a tiny piece of meat in each roll engulfed in too many layers of spinach.

We ended off the evening with the Burnt orange panna cotta served with roasted rhubarb (NZD 10). I would have to say of all the dishes, the dessert is one I would go back for. Silky smooth texture, bold rhubarb flavour and the hint of burnt orange – YUM!

So overall a rather mixed experience. The atmosphere was lively, the plates were beautifully presented and while certain dishes were spot on I felt that if I was completely honest, I was left feeling rather disappointed.

  • food – 3/5
  • price – 3.5/5
  • service – 3.5/5
  • atmosphere – 4/5

Chinoiserie, Mt Albert

Chinoiserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I am telling everyone I know in Auckland about this delicious food. What a fantastic recommendation for dinner (they are only open in the evenings every day of the week)!

Do not let its rather quiet location, next to a filling station fool you. It was packed by 7pm and they don’t take bookings, so we got ourselves a drink and settled in for a 15 minute wait. It was totally worth it!

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Their specialty is bao’s – Chinese steamed buns. The menu is small and inexpensive with the majority of dishes priced at NZD 10 or less (absolute bargain for Auckland). The atmosphere is cool and far from fancy with décor that is rather out there – luminescent lighting and a large dragon across the back of the service bar.

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We tried 4 dishes and they were all delicious. Coconut crusted squid rings (NZD 14) which was great to share as the portion size was really generous. Then for mains we ordered a Pork Belly with crushed peanuts bao (NZD 8) and Japanese Karaage Chicken (Deep-fried chicken) with sesame mayo, ginger and cabbage bao (NZD 9). The bao’s were not short of fillings and left us feeling very satisfied.

I am a huge fan of pork belly bao’s but in saying that I think the chicken bao is inspired as the combination of flavours was mouth-wateringly amazing! The pork was tender and really tasty but to get a 5/5 from me I would have liked crispier crackling.

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For dessert we had to go with our second choice of deep-fried, black sesame ice-cream bao (NZD 8) as they had sold out of their matcha ice-cream, condensed milk bao (NZD 8). Carbs and sugar overload but a rather tasty ice-cream sandwich!

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  • food – 4.5/5
  • price – 5/5
  • service – 3.5/5
  • atmosphere – 3.5/5

 

Kura (倉), Auckland

Kura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

倉 meaning ‘Cellar’.
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The one cuisine I am falling in love with in Auckland is Japanese food. I have had my fair share of sushi and only sushi, venturing no further into Japanese territory. Kura is an underground sake bar located in the CBD. Sake is a reasonably low alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. I’ve tasted it once and was not a fan but we were recommended to drink it warm instead and it was far more pleasant than memory serves. We ordered the large ‘pot’ (NZD 26) for the four of us, which was not all that large and would probably be better suited to 2 people.

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Well of Kaga Sake (15.5%) – Medium

The restaurant was packed and the atmosphere was great! We unfortunately booked far too late and ended up being moved around quite a bit in an attempt to move us from the bar area to a table. It was a bit of a disappointment and I definitely recommend that if you want to go in a group, get a proper table booking in advance (they did give us 10% off the bill for the inconvenience which we really appreciated).

There are a variety of dishes to choose from – small plates, tempura, sashimi, sushi, noodles, donburi and grilled meats. Most of the dishes were delicious, in fact too difficult to place one above the other. The Teriyaki style salmon (NZD 22) was definitely the most interesting tasting dish but we loved the crunch of the chicken (NZD 15) and the twist on the beef sushi (NZD 19).  The dish I would not re-order was the sautéed scallops and prawns (NZD 24) – the broth was bland and the seafood lacked flavor.

Teriyaki style grilled salmon fillets

The first friends we made in Auckland, who love and appreciate good quality food, suggested we try Kura and it nailed the brief – Interesting, tasty and affordable! We will definitely be back!

  • food – 4/5
  • service – 2.5/5
  • atmosphere – 4/5
  • price – 4/5

Casita Miro, Waiheke

Casita Miro, Waiheke

Casita Miro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Getting across to Waiheke is an absolute treat and there are loads of places and wineries to choose from to eat. I was recommended Casita Miro and it was hands down the best part of our day on the island! We were really lucky to manage to get a booking 2 days before but if you’re planning a trip to the island, I wouldn’t recommend leaving it that late.

You access the restaurant on a small section of dirt road and pass by the grapes you may well drink. The main restaurant boasts high ceilings and beautiful glass windows that look out over the vineyard. The first thing I noticed was the mosaics on all the walls. It’s colourful and vibrant and definitely adds a unique touch to the décor.

We kicked off the afternoon with a seated wine tasting. The waitress was friendly and knowledgeable and the wines were pretty good too. It’s a nice way to extend lunch and really make the most of what the place has to offer. I’d recommend trying a glass of their bubbles if you enjoy sparkling wine.

The menu isn’t huge but I prefer it that way as more effort can be put into each dish. The overarching idea is tapas although there are a few options for mains as well. So we opted to share a starter and a main as there were two dishes that really caught our attention. The Goats Cheese Croquetas to start (NZD15) were mouth-wateringly delicious and all over far too soon. Topped with lightly toasted almonds and drizzled with some honey – it’s a must taste dish for sure.

Before leaving South Africa I tried to find the perfect pork-belly with little luck. So on having the waitress reassure me that it would definitely be crispy crackling and tender meat, we dived right in (NZD32). The belly is served on a tomato and chickpea broth that is smoky in flavor as they incorporate some ham hock into the dish too. Hands down the best pork belly I have had in years! And to top it off… we also ordered some freshly baked bread, crusty and delicious to mop up the broth.

There is a buzzing atmosphere and if the weather is good then you can choose to move to one of their picnic spots on the lawns surrounding the restaurant, which we did as soon as lunch was over.

I usually do some research before heading out to eat but ran out of time before going on this trip. What I have since learnt is that it won its place in Top 50 Best Restaurants in Auckland, which it well deserves after trying it with no bias in mind at all.

Chuffed, CBD

Chuffed, CBD

Chuffed Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tucked away from street view, we were really chuffed to have found this little ‘back alley’ hangout.

The atmosphere is laid back and was perfect for a Sunday outing and quick bite to eat. This café is only open during the day making it a good option for breakfast or lunch. The menu isn’t huge but has a wide enough variety for breakfast (starting from $11) and a few interesting options for lunch with a number of pre-made foods, if time isn’t on your side.

We opted for a toasted, Poached Chicken sandwich to share ($11) which was a generous portion size and absolutely delicious. The smoked feta and a hint of chilly which I wasn’t expecting, gave it just the kick it needed.

The house chardonnay ($8) was full of flavor and the Pale Ale ($10) was spot on! They also have a range of sodas, brews, tonics and coffees to choose from too. I liked that the jug of complimentary water brought to the table was sparkling, it is a small detail but it didn’t go unnoticed.

It was pretty full and is clearly quite popular. The only downside was that the service was pretty average. The staff were friendly but our food arrived before our drinks which is never ideal.

 

The Obliteration Room, Auckland

Welcome to the Obliteration Room. An artistic concept by Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama presented at the Auckland Art Gallery until the 2nd of April 2018. The story behind it is that as a young girl the artist started seeing the world through a screen of dots which covered everything she looked at. For the last 40 years she has made sculptures, paintings and photographs using dots to cover surfaces and fill rooms.

Entering into the Obliteration Room made me feel like I was somehow Alice in Wonderland. A concept that had me intrigued from the get go, as there is something just magical about colour.

The display started off as a blank canvas in December 2017, a totally white room. Then slowly but surely it has transformed itself into this. On entry every person is given a sheet of colourful stickers to add to the room.

As you can imagine there are quite a few children who join in on the action. There are couches, a dining room table and chairs and even a piano for them to play on, so definitely worth a visit if you have little ones. 

And as for us adults…. “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”