Dear Jervois, Herne Bay

Dear Jervois, Herne Bay

Dear Jervois Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

If you are looking for a laid back cafe to make the most of your weekend (or week day), then Dear Jervois should be at the top of your list.

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It spreads out onto the sidewalk and is the perfect location for breakfast or lunch on a sunny day.. If however the weather is not holding up, like it can in Auckland, then head on inside as is just as inviting. There is a cute little back room that gives you an outdoor feel, whilst you’re snug and warm inside.

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The food is unpretentious and wholesome and whether you are a fuss-free eater like me or a gluten-free/vegan/dairy-free fairy, there is something for everyone’s taste. They serve an all-day menu up to closing time at 4pm and prices are mid-range, mostly in the early $20’s.

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Donkatsu chicken poke bowl

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Smashed avo on swedish-rye with poached eggs and dukkah

I love feeling emerged in my suburb, watching as people doing their thing. It buzzes with families, singles and everyone in-between and is a true gem in the heart of Herne Bay!

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

FishSmith, Herne Bay

FishSmith, Herne Bay

Fish Smith Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Our very first meal in New Zealand was good old Fish and Chips or should I say ‘Fush and Chups’ like the Kiwis do. Auckland is surrounded by water, in-between and all around so you can literally find fresh fish anywhere and at any time. Being on a tight budget during our first month here, this fishy takeaway became a bit of a staple so we’ve sampled a number of places.

The first reason for the this review is just to brag about our little local gem that makes a killer fish and chips which is consistently good. For a while I was a snob and stuck to only Snapper but I’ve started branching out and now I usually just grab the fish of the day. FishSmith is a thriving little business that never lacks clientele – you may have to order inside the shop or online as they may not answer their phone during peak periods! The shop is inviting and clean and the staff are friendly. If you’re lucky you can grab a spot in the window or at their one table outside but it is not a sit-down restaurant unfortunately.

The second reason for this post is because we veered off from our staple meal yesterday and opted for the fish tacos – one of the most simple but absolutely delicious meals I’ve had all year! Battered fish, soft shell taco, coleslaw and hot sauce (NZD 13 – for two of them).

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If you haven’t tried them, just do yourself (not your hips) a favour!

Orleans, Britomart

Orleans, Britomart

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

I’ve been wanting to try Orleans because I’ve heard about their fried chicken waffles but only recently discovered they showcase live music on weekends as well. So it was a rather easy choice when having to choose a location for a friend’s birthday dinner.

From first impressions I was pleasantly surprised at how cool the interior is. The music drifts through from the back of the restaurant, it is dimly lit with high standing tables and it has an air of sophistication to it. We were seated near the small stage and got to enjoy live jazz soul music by Lou’ana Whitney on vocals and a very enthusiastic drummer that accompanied her for the evening.

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The menu is a one pager and is made up of quite simple but unique dishes with all meals for one under NZD 20. If you like waffles in all different forms then you will be spoilt for choice! They also have quite an impressive list of cocktails for those interested.

To start we ordered a spinach and artichoke dip with tortilla chips (NZD 10) and the buttermilk fried chicken (NZD 14). The dip comes with a layer of melted cheese on top and its just perfect to dunk a chip into. Our waitress very sweetly brought us extra chips as there was far more dip than chips on the plate – absolutely delicious! The chicken was juicy and crispy just like fried chicken should be.

For mains we went with their signature dish Orleans fried chicken waffle (NZD 18) – drizzled with a maple chipotle, the twice cooked pork belly with sweet potato puree (NZD 18) and friends of ours chose to share the the waffle stack (NZD 38).

The chicken waffle delivered as promised with a perfectly cooked waffle – crispy and light – fried chicken and a marvellous maple syrup with a kick of chilli infused into it! The pork belly, although not my number 1 in Auckland, did have crispy crackling and proved to be a good dish. The waffle stack is best described as a gluttonous dish that lacks finesse as you literally have to hold it in place. There’s far to much going on as it has bits of bacon, pork belly, fried chicken, stacked between waffles and comes with curly fries, onion rings and slaw. Tasty no doubt, but I would stick to the smaller more refined dishes!

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We were too full to try desserts but our neighbouring table ordered the brownie stack which looked very impressive! In terms of service our waitress was helpful, made suggestions, topped up our water glasses and checked how up on how the food was.

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Thank you Orleans for a great night out, we will most definitely be back!

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