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.

2.  SELF ESTEEM!
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..........

3.  COMMENTS
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.

mmmmmmmmyummo

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!
Positives:
Nice decor.
Negatives:
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!

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 any.....um 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.
Positives:
Great range of food.
But if not for the lovely venue and atmosphere, the place would be standard.
Negatives:
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!





RASPBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE CHEESECAKE
Vanilla bean cheesecake studded with raspberry & white chocolate truffles
CITRUS SELECTION
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




EYE FILLET STEAK – (HARMONY ORGANIC)
Char-grilled with braised osso bucco on fried Israeli couscous

DUET OF LAMB – (HARMONY ORGANIC)
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






CHICKEN LIVERS WITH GRAND MARNIER PATE
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

Sad!

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!!!!

Viva


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







dessert!
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!

Friday, May 28, 2010

LongRoom, Ponsonby, Auckland



Fish of the day wrapped in prosciutto w' creamed leeks, seasonal vegetables & potato fondant • $28.00.
Beer battered market fish w’ fries, minted pea puree & egg tar tare • $22.00
During one of my day trips up to Auckland to see family I took my daughter out to lunch and we tried this classy looking restaurant and bar in Ponsonby. Choosing it had alot to do with the fact that we had a baby buggy and it was easy to get into.
Well, what a surprise, we both chose the fish.
My daughter absolutely loved her meal and there was definitely no complaining coming from her direction.
My meal was nice, but not memorable and as you can see had far too many fries.
I must add to my list of pet peeves the serving of battered fish on top of fries. This is always a bad idea. In this particular case the fish had not been drained very well and so as I ate through my fries I reached an oil puddle in the middle of my plate with fries swimming in it.
The minted pea puree was very tasty and something I have never had before, but Im not sure it really matched the dish that well.
An interesting way to present the lemon garnish - wrapped in a piece of muslin. It didnt really work that well.
In the end I wished I had ordered my daughters dish which looked scrumptious.
The service was good but they werent very busy as it was after the big lunch time rush. Once again dark tables and dark polished floors seemed to give a cosy, modern and stylish atmosphere.
Positives:
Classy style
Negatives:
Battered fish not drained enough and served on top of fries.
Too many fries.
FFC Rating:
Presentation - Good
Taste - Good
Size - Good
Service - Good
Venue - Very Good

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tauranga Airport!


Time for something different.

Airport Food..............eeeeew. Seeing as I have frequented airports alot over the last 3.5 years I thought I would just add in this little critique of our local one.

And no, Im not the jetsetting type. I am the one who stands at the airport waving to the plane as my hubby takes off once again to work overseas. Departure has always been from Auckland, but his latest contract has allowed him to leave from Tauranga, which Im loving. Wearing a track to and from Auckland every few weeks was not fun! So I've visited Tauranga Airport three times now and I must say it is a very clean, tidy and modern airport, with good parking.

Now for the food! Yes you know it - sandwiches lined up in a row in triangular see thru plastic cases. You peer at them wondering how old they are, how long they've been sitting in that cabinet with people looking at them and never buying them! You glance up at the girl at the counter with the scowl on her face and the dirty apron and you wonder if she made them. There seems to be no-one else at the one and only food kiosk and you really dont like the thought that this girl may have thrown these sandwiches together!

So, we chose a baked product, a biscuit, which surely would have been brought in, unpacked, and gently plopped in the glass jar on the counter. My husband is gluten intolerant, which causes him no end of annoyance when he travels, but amazingly they had one jar with gluten free chocolate chippies. I chose a chocolate biscuit for myself, but at the last minute was tempted to swap it for a fresh looking danish.

Tea for two is our usual choice of beverage when we are together and it was pretty standard, although the girl tried to give me Earl Grey.......no thank you. One thing hubby and I agree on - Earl Grey tea tastes like soap! Go figure!

Service at the counter was by Miss Grumpy who looked like she hadnt cracked a smile in a very very long time. I hope that nothing bad had happened to her personally, but Im just so amazed at how people who are serving the public dont smile or have a kind word for the customer. It would make such a difference. Even a suggestion of purchasing something else with your order. But all is done in silence with a scowl.

Once we were seated I began reading a free copy of "Creative Beat" while my husband was filling in a travel document. There were TWO articles on Katikati in it, which I was most surprised to see. One on the murals in the town and one on the new Dramatic Theatre Group which my friend has started. Katikati......we're a special little town.

As we ate and drank and waited for the flight, which happened to be delayed, we watched the kiosk girl attend to the used tables. To our surprise she did not wipe them with a cleaning cloth but just scraped the crumbs off with her hands.........amazing! It saddens me that people dont realise how lucky they are these days to have work and that they dont do the job wholeheartedly. When you do your job well you will get noticed eventually and when it comes time for promotions you are more likely to be the successful one.

Oh, and the gluten free biscuit was hard and crumbly as they usually are but lucky for me, my danish was soft and fresh!

Tea was average