Monday, May 5, 2014

Nineteen - cafe at Fairview Golf and Country Club, Katikati

Tea for one and a gluten free toastie!

This club has had a major makeover after various owners have tried to make it a success.  The old dark Scottish lodge style interior with red carpet and deep red velvet curtains has been replaced by a lovely new modern decor with crisp white walls and fresh new carpet.  The large black lattice worked light shades are a smart feature and break the huge space in the high ceilings.  

The cafe has gone through a few changes over these years but seems to be coming together now.  The usual foods are on offer at the counter and in the cabinet.  The display is not large but I guess relevant for a small rural area.

The Tea:

Ive had a cuppa here quite a few times recently and its okay.  Sometimes I have felt like the tea wasnt fresh.  You know that taste when you are at the end of your packet of tea, as compared to the taste of that first tea out of a freshly opened packet, but this day it was okay.  The pot arrived with one silk bag in it, and the cups were nice and thin and easy to hold.  All pretty standard really.

The Food:

I ordered a toasted sandwich with gluten free bread.  The woman ordering ahead of me wanted a gluten free snack as well but ended up not ordering any food as there was really only one gf option in the cabinet.  I didnt want the big vege frittata either and almost didnt order anything until I realised they had gluten free bread and ordered a toastie.  They really do need to add more gluten free small things that go with a coffee or tea, something like a gf choc brownie or biscuit.  It was 10.30am and really the sandwich was too much and I didnt eat it all. One of the guests in my group was also gluten free, so out of 4 people standing at the counter, 3 were wanting gluten free food.

FFL Rating:

Venue:   VERY GOOD
Tea:    GOOD
Food:  Not enough to judge this time around, but definitely more gluten free offerings needed.

Grindz cafe, Tauranga

Oops, I was so hungry I was half way through before realising I hadnt taken a photo.

Tea for two and eggs benedict with spinach and mushrooms, on gluten free toast - $15.50

I have seen this cafe so many times over the years but never gone in.  I think its because its in an out of the way place on first avenue, although Alimentos is just down the road and Ive been there heaps.  Ive looked across at Grindz as Ive parked and gone into Farmers and thought that it looked small and the outside tables looked jammed in on a narrow footpath not really meant for them.
I realised as I walked in that I was completely wrong about the size.  The cafe is quite large with rooms carrying on upstairs and into the back of the building.  But we chose to sit at the front in the sun.
The decor is pretty standard for today.  Cafes are really into stashing old kitchy things on counter tops and shelves about the place.  I like it. It makes it feel homely and comfy as well as interesting to look at.  
The place was buzzing and there was a long line up to the counter, which is usually a good sign.  Busy cafes usually have great food........or is that coffee?  I soon discovered, it was just the coffee.

The Tea:

While waiting for our friends to arrive we ordered "tea for two".  Its a while since Ive posted on this blog, so if you are a newcomer you will need to know that I love going to cafes but I am not a coffee drinker.  One of my favourite things to do is critique how well a cafe can do tea.  Just straight bog standard english breakfast.  Its fascinating to find out how much effort is gone into the coffee but the tea is so neglected.

Our tea arrived and sadly so did the shallow coffee cups with the thick rims and the teeny tiny hole that you cant put your finger through.  They were cute, coming in different pastel colours.  Nice to not have the usual brown ones, but still, they were coffee cups and not tea cups.  Tea should be drunk hot, and shallow coffee cups just cause the tea (and coffee I might add) to cool down extremely quickly because of the large surface area.  The teapot was a new one to me.  Nice and red and quite large.  Looked kinda 60s ish.  It was a little grubby with cloth marks on it. 

Having tea for two is interesting because my husband the engineer,  likes weak tea, so he has to have the first cup and immediately picks up the pot as soon as it comes.  I, on the other hand like my tea to be brewed for three minutes (as Mr Twinings instructs).  So I take a look in the pot to see what is left for me in the way of leaves touching water or the number of bags etc.  Im happy to see that the pot has leaves in it and not a bag, and the mesh container holding the leaves DOES go right down into the pot.  My tea was good.  Pretty average really, but uncomfortable to drink in those annoying cups, and by the time you get to cup number two the tea is getting cold.

The Food: 

We both ordered gluten free, which we've been for years now.  So we know our breads/toasts.  I didnt recognise the brand of bread, but it was cut very thick, which does not work too well if you want to toast it.  It was inevitable that the inside of the bread would turn to mush.  My husband wasnt even sure if his bread had even been toasted.  It seemed a little crunchy on the crust but was light coloured and looked untoasted to us.  We were both really disappointed in our meals.  There was minimal hollandaise sauce, our toast wasnt cooked properly and our eggs were extremely underdone.  They had a very thin membrane of cooked white and the yolk ran out very thinly when you cut it, as though it hadnt even been heated through.  The engineer had raw egg white in his, but that still didnt seem to help lubricate his two large slabs of thick bread with salmon and hardly any hollandaise.  

I didnt eat all of mine.  The "toast" just turned to mush under all the wetness of yolk, spinach and tasteless button mushrooms.  A couple of nice dark portobellos pan fried in butter would have been much nicer. I dont remember tasting any hollandaise (lemon) flavour at all.  

This is frustrating, because I think cafes are not thinking about the taste of these types of meals.  I think they are just leaving it up to the eggs themselves to be the stars of the show.  And if you get the eggs wrong, well the whole thing is just awful.  There was no flavour in my meal.  And dont get me started on the salt and pepper available (or not) in cafes.  Thats another post in itself!

The Service:

Pretty standard, cute girls in little shorts with tattoos rushing about with plates!  They seemed to be doing a great job of delivering the food in good time.

FFL Rating:

Venue:   GOOD
Service:   GOOD
Price:   OK

Im willing to give this cafe another chance as Ive only been there once.  Cant wait actually, as I really hope its not like this all the time.

Bonus of the day was finding this very cool bag in the shop next door!

Monday, November 5, 2012

I think its time for a resurrection!

Just lately a couple of people have asked me if Im still blogging on my cafe and restaurant visits.  I have to say that I wanted to say yes, but sadly had to reveal that I am a blogging piker.  Like lots of things, I thought it was a good idea, started with a hiss and a roar, and then fizzled out.  I think alot of us do this.  After all blogging is becoming very popular.

I have to say that there were three reasons I stopped, and if I am going to carry on critiqueing food on the public forum Im going to have to get over these three reasons:

1.  TIME!
You will have to agree, there is not alot of it these days!  Have you noticed that?  And finding enough spare stuff is pretty unusual around here.

If I give it........can I take it.  Criticising someones business is not the nicest thing to do, and basicly Im a nice person who also happens to be in business (not Food).  I have to admit I could be easily hurt by criticism.  So do I want to go on criticising others.  I have to weigh up my interest in food and the sheer frustration I feel, with the need to let others know about it.
I also want to point out that this blog is not all about the negative remarks and when I eat something wonderful I will be telling the world.

This leads on to..........

Obviously other people are going to disagree with me, and Mr Anonymous is going to comment however he likes under my posts.  I have to deal with this part of the blogging world and these people are able to comment on my posts yet not reveal themselves.  That is fine, but this is MY blog and I will censor all comments.  I dont appreciate being attacked or sworn at.  I understand that if I have said something negative about a venue that it can cause a "discussion" and that is all it should be - a discussion.

Having said all this.......Im bound to do something wrong!

But here goes............

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh My Goodness.....Oh My Goodness!!!!!

Well that's my quote from "Annie", which I usually say if I have found something gorgeous, and this just has to be it!

This is a picture of today's lunch on my office desk. Well, actually its the bit I had after my filled roll, but never mind that. This is a Lemon Lamington from Viva Cafe in Katikati, and it is soooooo gorgeous. I just had to put it down after taking that bite, and take a photo of it.

It tastes as light and fluffy as it looks. The lemon flavour is very light and is found in a lovely gooey layer in the middle of the lamington. I love the yellowy goodness of it, its just so pretty! Way more exciting than your usual brown or pink one. And if you eat one at the cafe you get to smother it with cream as well.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Corner Stone Bethlehem

Lamb rump, mushroom and bacon mash, beans, garlic cream sauce $30
Rhubarb crumble, ice cream, cream $12
Okay, so I dont know if you've figured it out by now but my husband works overseas and when he comes home we go out for meals.
I havent blogged for........ it seems like soooooolong, but its because I'm on my own and I havent had anyone to go out with.
Well, this particular night. hubby was home and we had made a date with some wonderful old friends. to meet up at the Corner Stone Pub at the Bethlehem Shopping Complex.
Now I HAD heard some good stuff about this place so was quite looking forward to it.
And I must say that we had an awesome night catching up with old friends and remeniscing and raving and all those things you do when you have a few wines and a loose tongue. Hey but lets talk about the food. I think everyone enjoyed their food but me........and Im wondering if Im jinxed or Im just plain fussy, but I will leave it for you to judge.
We didnt have starters cos we were just plain hungry I think, so it was straight into the mains.
The picture (above) looks nice, but basicly this was 4 slices of roast lamb on top of mashed potato (which had chopped mushrooms and bacon in it) with a few beans and a runny gravy. I could have done better at home........really I do a way better roast lamb than this.
Of the four pieces of meat on my plate, the first piece was all grissle (grissel, grizzzzzzle), you know what I mean. The next piece was almost raw, so that it was ...............slimey and hard to cut. The other two pieces were ok. Once I got through them I got to my mash.
Mash shouldnt have other stuff in it. This mash had bits of bacon and mushroom. It was a smooth mash with lumps of other stuff in it. You could not taste the mushroom or the bacon.
The beans were very nice. About 6 of them....Yay! see the pic. What kind you may ask? Fava beans? Not really sure, but they were tasty, and the sauce (runny gravy) around the dish was tasty but really did just taste like runny gravy, not "garlic cream sauce".
The whole meal was very disappointing. But I ate it because I was having a good time with friends and I was HUNGRY!
Next came dessert.
Im sorry, but really this was a total disaster. Why did I even choose Rhubarb Crumble. To be honest I wish I hadnt because it was probably to date the worst dessert I have had in a restaurant so far.
Take a look at the photos. This is my Rhubarb Crumble. Can you see the crumble????
When it came out my first thoughts were, that it it was huge, then I was wondering if it was what I had ordered. I was looking for a browned crumble. You can see that the ice cream ball on the top is sinking into the soupy mixture (see the close up picture).
A crumble is normally a browned mixture of flour, butter and sugar or other dry mixtures on top of a stewed fruit.
This was a soupy bowl of overcooked rhubarb and whatever was left of a crumble was sunken into the mix with the dollop of icecream slowly following suit.
It was incredibly bad.
This is the first time I have not eaten what I have been given. I really did try, but this dish was disgusting. The Rhubarb was like soup and it was soaking in a super super sugar syrup, that you could not taste any rhubarb flavour whatsoever.
When the waitress collected the dishes she asked why I hadnt eaten the dessert and I said it was just like a soup. She deducted the cost off the bill, which was very commendable. However, I really would have liked a dessert!!!
I had a wonderful night with friends but the food at this restaurant was sub-standard and I would not recommend it to anyone.
Sometimes food can come out looking kinda wonderful, but when you taste it and examine it, it just does not come up to the standard you are paying for.
We also found this venue to be overheated. We felt quite hot at our table.
I also watched the chef after he finished his shift, come out to the front of the restaurant and smoke a cigarette. Seeing this often bothers me. I once saw a chef come out of a cafe onto the street front in his dirty apron and smoke a cigarette right in front of the customers. It made me not want to go to his cafe. It is best if the staff in the kitchen remain anonymous, especially if they have the habit of smoking.
To be honest I dont remember anything about the service at this restaurant. It was pretty average. The food came out in good time.......hhhmmm perhaps quite a longish wait for our mains.
I do like the dark decor of restaurants/cafes. It seems to be the in thing to have dark tables and flooring. So that was a plus for this venue. But this was more of a sports bar and had 3 flat screen TVs going the whole time.
Im sure it must be a great sports bar, but a restaurant it is not!
Nice decor.
The food!
FFC Rating:
Presentation - Average - Actually I have to say there was no effort at all in making the dishes look anything more than average.
Taste - Average, I could make better at home.
Size - Average
Service - Average
Venue - Nice
If you think Ive been harsh, take a look at the food from the photos I have of Mount Bistro meals and just compare to the boring photos from this venue.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Pluto on Devonport Road, Tauranga has to be the best place to pick up a nice hot soup for a winter lunch on the run. Their Seafood Chowder is awesome! Grab a roll from the counter top and you get a little packet with knife, spoon, butter and serviette. Amazing value for money and extremely yum! When I was there I couldnt get over how busy they were. Its obviously the favourite place for workers to pick up a salad or soup to go.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alimento, Tauranga

Big Breakfast
Lemon & Honey Chicken Salad

Lemon Tart and Chocolate Truffle

It was lunch time but that didnt stop my husband from ordering a big breakfast meal at Alimento this particular day.

So thats his lovely breakfast meal at the top, which he assured me tasted wonderful and is very nicely presented. The pieces of bread were quite large and about an inch thick. A bit much for him as he is gluten intolerant. I didnt really notice too many gluten free offerings at this cafe.

When you arrive at Alimentos, you are sure to find a long line, expecially at lunch time. You order your meal at the counter and then go off and find a table. The building used to be the Masonic Lodge. It has a nice front room looking out onto the street and a lovely courtyard area with a huge tree, and in the back there is a more quiet room with a lovely warm fireplace. Its recommended for business meetings.

The cabinet had all kinds of gorgeous looking food in it. The noodle salad I chose looked so nice and I noted that it had lemon in it, which is one of my favorite flavours. On the counter they have 3 empty plates in a stack to show you the size of salad you can order. I thought this was a great idea, so I ordered a medium serving.

We also ordered a dessert and a cup of tea and asked for them to come last. The happy smiling assistant said to just give them a yell when we were ready for our second course.

The food came in good time and we both enjoyed it but I have to be honest and say that the chicken salad had very little chicken in it, you only have to look at the photo and see if you can see there might be 3 tiny pieces and a cashew nut in that pic........
There was no lemon or honey flavour. I think they just called it that because that was what they made their dressing with, but still I couldnt taste either.

The dessert was lovely. Came a little late as it was lunch time and after asking the waitress we think she actually forgot. We then got our dessert but the tea didnt arrive and we had to ask her again for it.

The tea for two arrived as tea leaves in a pot and hanging on the side of the pot these nifty little strainers, the handles of which were piping hot from being stuck in the teapot! They were quite strange and I have never come across them before. It took us a while to figure out how they worked and to this day I still dont understand why the strainer has a little cup under it. They gave us two, when only one was necessary, and they gave us coffee cups, which is my pet hate. Thick rimmed shallow coffee cups with tiny handles. Sux for drinking tea.
The lemon tart was yum, but the crust was very very thick and I left it behind. Hubby loved his chocolate truffle.
Great range of food.
But if not for the lovely venue and atmosphere, the place would be standard.
Tea served with coffee cups!
Stingey on the meat in the chicken salad
FFC Rating:
Presentation - Very Good
Taste - Good
Size - Very Good
Service - Good
Venue - Very Good

Friday, June 25, 2010

My life's not all about food!

Thats right, my life isnt all about food. And if I keep to food on this blog I will soon run out. Lets face it I cant go out for dinner every night of the week. So it looks like this food critic blog is going to develop into just my diary of all the things I like, ESPECIALLY FOOD. But today I thought I would share with you this very cute card I got for mothers day last month. My son and his girlfriend sent it to me from Melbourne. It folds out and makes a really cute display, dont you agree? And yes, I do like fairies!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mount Bistro - Dessert at last!

Vanilla bean cheesecake studded with raspberry & white chocolate truffles
A rolled citrus sponge with lemon posset & icecream with lemoncello syrup
Here are the gorgeous desserts we had at the Mount Bistro for my birthday dinner.
My husband said that his cheesecake was light and creamy and just as good as our daughter makes. She is a patisserie chef and makes the best cheesecake we have ever tasted, so that was really saying something!
My dessert looked fabulous. Parts of it were just beautiful to eat and parts were a little disappointing. The icecream was so creamy and the posset was really gorgeous. Lemon posset is basicly sweetened thick cream with lemon added and set in the fridge. It was very delicate tasting, but I was hoping for some strong lemon flavours and I think they were all a bit too light for me. The sponge was lovely and fresh but I couldnt taste any lemon. And the little piped bits that looked like cream on both our desserts were hard, as though they had been made a long time before. Perhaps they were supposed to be like that and I have just learned something new!
Both desserts could be described as "melt in your mouth" and both were $15 each which I thought was pretty reasonable.
FFC Rating:
Presentation - Excellent
Taste - Excellent
Size - Very Good
Service - Excellent
Venue - Very Good

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mount Bistro - Mains

Char-grilled with braised osso bucco on fried Israeli couscous

Honey glazed rack, smoked lamb loin, kumara confit & coriander, kiwifruit walnut pesto.

Just looking at all this food is making me want to eat it all over again. These mains were amazing! The waitress did actually say that the meals were a good size but I guess we thought we had better cover ourselves in case she ate like a sparrow! So we both ordered some veges. I ordered the sauteed and hubby ordered the tempura.
With hubby being gluten free the waitress asked the chef to replace the couscous, and so the steak came on a bit of potato mash with fries on the side. Great that they dont mind providing for different dietary needs. The menu also indicates gluten free dishes.
My meal was a good size and I was blown away by the flavours. There were 5 pieces of honey glazed rack cooked to perfection, just a bit pink and the two pieces of loin had a lovely smokey flavour.
I loved the confit of kumara which sat on the pesto. A yellow kumara on the bottom, orange in the middle and topped with a deep red/purple kumara which looked like a beet root. Im not sure if it was a kumara coloured in some way or if it was natural. It all tasted so good with the pesto and nuts under it and the gorgeous sauce.
Everything came out at the right temperature, even the vegetables. The tempura veges were delicious with such a thin coating of batter.
This must be one of the best meals I have had in a very very long time.
See my next post for the dessert!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mount Bistro, Mount Maunganui

SWORD N SAUCE-RY (2007 Monteiths beer & wild food challenge national winner)
Skewered scallops, prawn tail, crayfish, salmon & fresh fish
flambéed with horopito & lime vodka served with dipping sauces

Sautéed livers with spinach & bacon, Rewana loaf and pate

It was my birthday the other day and my present was a night out at a great restaurant with my best friend (my husband). We just love eating out and were determined to visit this restaurant which is located right below the Mount opposite the hot pools. It is very popular so it is essential to book in advance. We parked right outside the front door....good start, and on walking in were greeted by the gorgeous staff dressed as above. We soon found this was all to do with the Monteiths Beer and Wild Food Challenge. The girls were dressed as wolves in line with their entry dish "Twisted Tale" which is based on the story of the three little pigs and of course features wild boar.

The chef, Stephen Barry (in the background of my photo), is an award winner and you can check out all his awards at their website here.

Today Im just going to critique the entree because I just have so much to say about this restaurant.

We ordered this entree to share, which we would definitely recommend - cost $20. The portions are generous with all the meals.

My husband is gluten intolerant and mentioned this when ordering the main and so the waitress suggested she add some gluten free crackers to the entree as well. Please, somebody come up with a different gluten free cracker than Sakata Rice Crackers. My hubby eats them all the time at home, so a bit of a let down there. They are in the pic above.

The dish was large and the chicken livers were hot and beautifully cooked with the spinach and coated in a tasty sauce. Thats the Rewana bread sliced up in the centre, tinted pink! And the pate sitting in the spoon was amazing. It was so smooth and a beautiful full flavour. I loved the presentation on the spoon - really different.

The waiting staff were definitely of a high quality. We watched the waiter don a crown and serve up a previous winning Wild Food dish to the table beside us. The lights were turned off momentarily as they lit up the Sword N Sauce-Ry dish pictured above. Great entertainment.
Next post - The mains!

Monday, June 7, 2010


Its a wet holiday weekend and I'm afraid I havent ventured too far to go out for a meal so I just thought I would share this video with you. The guy behind them is so intrigued but trying to hide it. How on earth could you enjoy a meal if this is how you have to eat it! I thank God I was born in New Zealand.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants!

Quay - Peter Gilmore

The S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2010 have now been announced. The list is the result of an extensive poll of the world’s most celebrated chefs, renowned food critics, leading restaurateurs and well-travelled gourmands – collectively they are The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy.

The top restaurant in the world is Noma in Denmark. Visit their website here.
Check out the list here.

Thats right folks - New Zealand didnt feature anywhere! Not even in the top 51 - 100! So I guess I will have to showcase the closest thing to it and that is Quay restaurant in Sydney, Australia. They were number 27.
Looking out over Sydney harbour, Peter Gilmore serves rare and organic vegetables, and enthrals diners with his fascination with flavour and textures – Mud Crab and Pearl Meat, Five textures of Southern Lobster, and his legendary Eight Texture Chocolate Cake to name a few. Patrons are also reminded to take a camera for the stunning views.
Quay has now taken the accolade of Best Restaurant in Australasia, as well as a host of other awards in the last 18 months.

So lets check out some of his food:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Im a sucker for punishment!!!!


Cafe @ the balcony - Eggs Benedict

I love my friends, and when they ask me to lunch for their birthday, they get to pick the cafe! So here I am, I find myself back in a cafe I would not have chosen to return to - Cafe @thebalcony. Hmmmmm so what to order............. definitely not a panini! (see my post on 23 May) I decided that if I have to be back at this place I will order something that I can compare to another cafe, so Eggs Benedict it was. The menu said it came with Salmon and the price - $17.00. It was suggested I might like it with bacon instead as it is cheaper - $15.00. Im thinking, these eggs better be pretty good.
So here we have two photos, the top pic from Viva Cafe, Katikati, I have used 3 times now. Its a good example of eggs benedict. Compare it to the meal below at Cafe @the balcony. One looks delicious, the other looks a bit sad. They managed to burn the extemely fatty bacon all around the edges! The eggs were fine but the hollandaise sauce was insipid, not rich and creamy like Vivas. The bread apparently is home made but it just tasted like regular bread. For this price I would have expected far better quality bacon and perhaps a bread like turkish or ciabatta.
And Im damned if I could find any salt and pepper on any of the tables. I love cracked pepper on my eggs.
So, like I said earlier, this meal was $15. For only one more dollar I can get the gorgeous Warm Pork Sandwich from Bravos (see my other 23 May post). What more can I say.......
.........I love my friends!
Oh and I didnt drink tea this time. Had a filter coffee.....ho hum.
No FFC Ratings - cant be bothered.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Vue de monde, Melbourne

Okay, so I havent been there, but I hope to go to this restaurant one day. I checked it out on the internet because my daughter is working there as a chef de patisserie. Their website is amazing. The food is a work of art and the home page shows these dishes being plated up in a sort of stop motion fashion. When you go there check out the Photo Gallery, you will be blown away. They have a cafe, a bistro, and the restaurant, which are run by chef Shannon Bennet.
Their home page says - Vue de monde is testament to the belief that restaurant food can be a wondrous, unforgettable experience.
Check out the menu page. Menu gourmand - 5 courses for $150.
Oh if only we had a restaurant like this near by, I guess I would go bankrupt dining there!