Category Archives: Casual Dining

Mister D

Mister D is a casual eatery located in the centre of Napier.  They won runner up in the Best New Restaurant category in the 2013 Cuisine Food Awards.  They open from 7.30AM for breakfast and lunch and also have a dinner sitting Thursday to Saturday. The staff at Mister D work to deliver fresh local produce and great service with no fuss.

I’ve been to Mister D previously for coffee and afternoon tea and had really enjoyed the food we sampled.  During our recent trip to Napier we returned for dinner so we could try a wider selection of dishes from the menu.

The dining area is very cool and relaxed and our table was opposite the open plan kitchen so we could watch the chefs in action during our meal.

The restaurant was packed and when we first arrived our waiter was rushing around his section visibly stressed.  After a little while things settled down a bit and the service we received was very good.

The menu is varied and creative.  We tried a large range of dishes including fried bread with rosemary and garlic aioli; potato gnocchi with cheese sauce and coffee grounds; caramelised onion tart with Hohepa feta, kalamata olives and thyme; asparagus with strawberries, pistachios and labnah; sashimi salad with avocado, orange and modern dressing; pulled pork with white polenta, apple and fennel salad and pollen salt and the risotto with braised duck, wilted spinach, currants and pine nuts.

All of the food was delicious, the fried bread was crisp, tasty and totally indulgent, the gnocchi creatively presented and cooked perfectly, the onion tart buttery and light, the asparagus was fresh and light and worked well with the unusual accompaniments, the pork tender with a crisp crackle and creamy polenta and the duck tender and tasty.

For dessert we tried the quark cheesecake, a macadamia and caramel slice and one of Mister D’s specialties, a doughnut with injectable filling.  The doughnuts come with a choice of three fillings, chocolate, caramel or custard, you can choose one, two or all three of the fillings.  Again all the dishes were delicious, the cheesecake tart and light but still creamy, the macadamia and caramel slice packed to bursting with crunchy nuts smothered in caramel on a crisp shortbread base and the doughnuts light, warm, freshly tossed in sugar and cinnamon and accompanied by a syringe of custard.

Mister D is a very enjoyable place to eat.  The vibe is friendly and relaxed and the food top level.  It rivals many of the popular Auckland restaurants in both quality of food and service at very reasonable prices.

http://www.misterd.co.nz

Ten Twenty Four

Ten Twenty Four (1024) is a relaxed country dining restaurant located at 1024 Pakowai Road, Hastings.  Kent Badley, formerly of the famous Wellington restaurant Petit Lyon, has joined up with Ian Thomas and Peter Suragawa to present outstanding food in a relaxed location.

We went to 1024 for lunch on a recent trip to Napier.  Their menu is printed everyday as their dishes vary depending on what fresh regional produce is available to the chef.

I visited in a party of six and two of us had the 1024 R & D degustation.  It is billed as a surprise three course menu that allows you to sit back, relax and wait for your food to arrive.  Lunch time diners also have the option of choosing from the a la carte menu (the dinner menu is exclusively the surprise degustation).

The degustation started with a amuse bouche of smoked eel with pear and an elderflower shot that contained dry ice.  The entree was a whole baby flounder deboned, stuffed with prawn meat, covered in a macadamia crumble and served with wasabi mayonnaise.  The main was a lamb shank slow cooked for 12 hours, a stuffed potato and poussin gravy.  The dessert was not on the a la carte menu and was an amazing creme brulee stuffed doughnut served with a berry compote.

Those of us who ordered from the menu started with the daily bread selection, sesame lavosh and brioche with olive oil, sea salt and shaved parmesan.  For mains we tried the flounder(the same dish as the degustation menu entree); the prawn mousse stuffed blue cod with an ancient grain crust, black mustard mayo and broccoli salad; the chicken with wild herbs and garlic, pea shoot puree and kaffir lime and the aged angus striploin with teriyaki, kumara and udon noodles.  We also ordered sides of crumbed potato balls and the 1024 daily garden picked salad.

All of the food was delicious and beautifully presented but the standouts of the day were by far the flounder and the stuffed blue cod.  The flounder was soft, delicate and creamy.  The blue code was covered in a crisp crumb, perfectly cooked and stuffed to bursting with tender prawn meat.  Both dishes were perfectly complemented by the accompaniments and were exciting to eat.

We had to try dessert as we weren’t sure when we would get a chance to come back and also we’re not the type of people who say no to desserts.   We ordered strawberry mille feuille which was delicate chocolate shortbread layered with fresh cream and new season strawberries and the chocolate tort.  Both desserts were lovely but the degustation dessert was definitely the best with smooth, creamy brulee with a crisp shell stuffed into a chewy doughnut and a tangy berry compote.

Service was a bit slow to start but our main waiter was friendly and very knowledgeable about the food he was presenting.

Overall, I though 1024 is a must for anyone either living in or visiting the Napier/Hastings area.  It is top level food in a relaxed atmosphere and very reasonable prices – the price of the surprise lunch degustation was only $50, extremely good value for the levels of preparation and care that were evident in every dish we ate.

http://www.tentwentyfour.co.nz

The Federal Delicatessen

The Federal Delicatessen (The Fed) is the new Al Brown restaurant on Federal Street. After dining at Depot next door last weekend (and the recommendations of several friends) I was keen to try The Fed as soon as I could.

We went on a Friday night and luckily managed to get a table straight away.  The vibe in The Fed is very 1950’s diner cool with booths, seats at the bar overlooking the food preparation area and the wait staff in cute retro style uniforms.

We decided to try a range of dishes to share so we could try a little bit of everything.   We got the smoked Kawhai fish cakes; the pastrami on rye with ballpark mustard; the turkey meatloaf with pecans, celery heart, Granny Smith and whole grain mustard; the poutine, which is fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy and the slaw.

The Kawhai fish cakes were amazing, crispy on the outside, soft, creamy and delicious inside.  The pastrami was also delicious, loads of tender juicy pastrami stacked on soft rye bread and perfectly complemented by a hot mustard.  The meatloaf was a bit bland and dry and although the poutine was OK the gravy was a bit bland and there wasn’t quite enough of it.

At The Fed they have NY style cheesecake the menu.  Cheesecake, especially New York style cheesecake, is one of my favourite desserts so I couldn’t go past this.  The cheesecake was outstanding, smooth and creamy and accompanied by fresh cream and tangy berry compote.

They also have a really good selection of drinks at The Fed.  I started with a glass of prosseco, a light bubbly white Italian style wine and then followed up with a soda jerk for grown ups, a lemon and lime Rickey with Ketel One vodka.  The soda jerk was light, refreshing and not overly sweet.  There is also a wide selection beers and other red and white wines, including some wines on tap.

Although I enjoyed our meal at The Fed and it’s a really fun place to eat, it’s fairly pricey for the kind of food you get and I’ve had better food for the same price at other restaurants around Auckland.  I’d definitely go back for the cheesecake again and to try some of the other desserts but I don’t think I’d hurry back for another main meal.

http://www.thefed.co.nz

Depot

I finally tried Depot this weekend,  it first opened all the way back in 2011 so has been around for a while.  The no bookings policy makes things a bit tricky as we’ve got two small children at home and we usually don’t want to spend our precious nights out without children waiting hours for a table.

We were told on Sunday night that a table for four would take 30 to 40 minutes (which is a much better time than the hour and a half we were told last time we tried to go) so we took a seat at a spare outside table and started with some beer and cider.  We were pleasantly surprised when we were called inside after only 15 minutes.

Depot is always busy and its easy to see why, the wait staff were friendly and full of personality and the food was amazing.

We tried a range of dishes including the Tio Point oysters and Tuatuas from the raw bar; the turbot sliders with pickled lemon mayo and watercress; cumin battered warehou tortillas with slaw, tomatillo sauce and corriander; fergus bone marrow, wood roasted with parsley and shallot salad; mini yorkshire puddings with slow roasted lamb; crisp pork hock with apple and horseradish salsa verde and the potato skins with gouda and porcini salt.

Of all the dishes, the bone marrow was the only disappointing one, being very greasy and rich without a lot of flavour.  However, everything else was outstanding, the sliders were probably the best dish of the night, soft, fresh white buns, crispy fish fried to perfection and creamy, zingy mayo.  I also loved the tortillas, the fish was perfectly spiced and complimented by its accompaniments.

We moved onto dessert and decided to share two,  a sugar pie with cream and an Eton mess.  The sugar pie was nice but a bit boring, really sweet and a light caramel flavour but I found it a bit of a nothing dish.  However, the Eton mess was delicious, crunchy meringue, cream, ice cream and fresh new season strawberries.

The service we received was a bit patchy.  Our waiter was friendly, attentive and charming, they ensured our drinks were always topped up and even put a candle in one of the desserts and sang Happy Birthday for one of my friends. On the flip side we received a dish we didn’t order and one of our sides, the slaw was missed.

Overall, we had a very enjoyable night and I am definitely keen to return, maybe for lunch or mid week when the wait hopefully isn’t too long.  Although the good news is that if a table isn’t available at Depot, the new Al Brown eatery The Fed is just next door.

http://www.eatdepot.co.nz

Best Cheap Eats in Auckland

Metro’s recommendations for the Best Cheap Eats in Auckland (under $20) came out recently in the September 2013 issue and I’ve been trying to work my way through as many of the restaurants as I can over the last six weeks.  I thought I’d do a quick round up of the places I’ve been to so far and how they were.

Bun Hut (Dominion Road) – we had the steamed pork buns with cabbage and chives as well as the pan fried pork dumplings with cabbage and chives, a bowl of noodles with gravy, a chive pancake and a chive and egg pancake.  The restaurant is very bare bones but the dumplings and pork buns are stuffed full of delicious juicy meat.  The pancakes were soft and tasty and the noodles were smothered with a tasty gravy and really good value for $5.

Mamak Malaysian (Chancery, Central Auckland) – I had the chicken murtabak which is a roti stuffed with meat, then pan fried until crispy.  It comes with chicken gravy, fish gravy, Dahl and cabbage.  My friend had the seafood laksa.  The murtabak was delicious and crispy with tasty gravy, although a little bit meat heavy for me, next time I might try the vegetable version or go halves with someone else in two dishes.  My friend enjoyed his laksa too, saying it was very tasty and not too coconutty as some laksa can be.

Sanchun Bamboo (Commerce Street, Auckland Central) – I had the vegetarian Bibimbap, which is a rice based dish which comes in a hot stone bowl with a variety of vegetables, chilli bean paste and a raw egg cracked on top. When the food is all mixed up, the egg cooks and the rice goes crispy from the heat of the bowl.  It came with a variety of Korean side dishes including Kimchi, bean sprouts, potatoes and an egg dish.  The food was all fresh and delicious and I was offered top ups of my side dishes even though I couldn’t finish my Bibimbap.

Selera (Khyber Pass, Newmarket) – this place has in my opinion the best laksa in Auckland.  The char kway teow is also delicious as are the curry puffs and the rotis.

Sri Puteri’s (Queens Road, Panmure) – offering a combination of Indian, Chinese and Malaysian dishes.  We had the seafood laksa, the char kway teow and the roti with chicken gravy, fish gravy and dhal.  The roti was amazing, probably the best roti I’ve had, soft, light and crispy, the laksa was tasty but the char kway teow was bland and disappointing.

Tanpopo Ramen (Anzac Ave, Auckland Central) – A large menu of many different types of ramen.  All contain the same fresh, homemade noodles and there is a range of soup bases to choose from.  I had the Miso Tonkotsu Ramen which is a pork and miso based soup with noodles, BBQ pork, vegetables, bamboo shoots and dried seaweed.  The soup was rich and hearty, the noodles fresh and the whole dish warming and nourishing.

Wok N Noodle Bar (Normanby Road, Mt Eden) – A lot more modern and westernised than the majority of other Asian places around.  The menu is huge and the size of the meals even bigger.  The food is more fusion style and they serve a mix of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Malaysian.  I had the Pad see u which is thick rice noodles with chicken, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and egg in a homemade sweet soya sauce.  The dish was filling, fresh and tasty.

Velvet Burger (Fort Street, CBD) – Velvet burger is a gourmet style burger franchise that originated in Dunedin.  The burgers are huge and they pride themselves on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.  We ordered a range of burgers including The Squawk Dawg (standard beef burger), Velvet Burger (venison with pineapple and chilli mayonnaise), Homegrown (lamb with either chutney or a minty yogurt sauce), The Babe (crumbed chicken with pineapple and bacon) and the Animal Rights (a kumara and coriander patty with beetroot and a minty yogurt sauce).  All the burgers come with salad, aioli and Velvet relish.  We also tried their wedges, kumara chips, hashies and fries.  Our burgers were a little bit cold by the time we got them home to eat but they were still delicious and would have been even better if we had been able to eat them fresh and hot.

Tiffin (New North Road, Kingsland) – Tiffin cooks excellent North Indian curries with the usual suspects such as butter chicken, chicken tikka masala and korma all covered.  They also do a few more unusual dishes including a mango chicken curry.  My favourite is the mushroom saag, mushrooms cooked in a thick, rich spinach gravy, usually accompanied by a garlic naan.

Renkon (Ponsonby, Parnell, Takapuna and the CBD) – an old favourite with fresh, healthy Japanese style donburi meals available.  All dishes are available on either rice or udon noodles and all main dishes are priced at $11.50.

Ramen Do (Symonds Street, Auckland) – Fresh, homemade ramen noodles which are worlds away from any instant ramen you have at home, these noodles are tender but still chewy and incredibly fresh.  This is the place that changed my perception of ramen noodles as a cheap unhealthy snack.

Han San Vietnamese (Newmarket, Panmure, CBD and Glenfield) – another old favourite that I’ve been going to for many years.  Fresh, healthy tasting Vietnamese food.  The vermicelli salads with either lemongrass chicken or fried pork spring rolls and shredded pork are my favourites.  Although I’ve been a bit disappointed recently and have been finding the food a bit bland.  They could do with using more fresh herbs like many of the Vietnamese restaurants overseas do to liven up the food and really bring it to life.

Miss Clawdy

Miss Clawdy is a Southern American soul food restaurant that has recently opened in the new ASB building in Wynyard Quarter, Auckland.  Like most restaurants in the area, it is child friendly with a couple of dishes especially for the little ones and also colouring sheets and crayons available to keep the kids entertained.

The food is bold and full of flavour and the service friendly and fast.  Like a lot of the new restaurants opening around Auckland, the food is designed to be shared.  We ordered a range of food including the southern fried oyster, the pop corn shrimp and the cuban (pulled pork shoulder) Po’ Boys; the grilled fish and the pulled pork tacos; the baby beetroot, quinoa, chargrilled zucchini and goats curd salad; the snapper cheviche; the southern fried jerk chicken; the hand cut fries and the miss clawdy slaw.

The Po’ Boys were delicious, light fluffy white bread with crisp deep fried prawns, iceberg lettuce and flavoured mayo.  The other two highlights were the snapper cheviche which was light, fresh and tangy and came with thin crispy tortillas to scoop the cheviche onto and the southern fried jerk chicken which had a crisp, crunchy coating with a good kick of spice and was accompanied by a chipotle lime mayo.

The only disappointment was the pulled pork. Although it tend soft and tender, it was a bit bland for me, especially compared to most of the other dishes which were very flavoursome.

We also tried the desserts, as they had cinnamon beignets with butterscotch sauce which are always a favourite and a key lime pie with torched meringue which I’ve always wanted to try.  The key lime pie was thick and gooey but not too tart, with the lime flavour being a bit more subtle than a traditional lemon meringue pie and the cinnamon beignets were soft in the middle and crispy on the outside with a thick coating of cinnamon and sugar.

Miss Clawdy’s isn’t the kind of place to go if you’re watching your waistline as its comfort food.  However its a great place for lunch or a casual dinner with a group and offers something different to other restaurants around Auckland.

http://www.missclawdy.co.nz

Baduzzi

At a family dinner the other night, my brother was talking about Baduzzi, a new restaurant in Wynyard Quarter by Michael Dearth from The Grove, which offers Italian inspired food and wine.

We went out for an early lunch today for my Mum’s birthday and instead of going to a cafe as usual, we thought we’d try somewhere new and go to Baduzzi based on the recommendations of my brother. I’d also heard they were kid friendly with a children’s menu, crayons and an activity sheet.  It sounded lIke a good place to try with my two daughters in tow.

We got settled quickly with drinks, activity sheets and crayons for the kids and looked over the lunch menu, which is the same as the dinner menu.

We ordered the handmade buttered pasta and meatballs with tomato sauce for the girls. For the adults we ordered the Coromandel crayfish meatballs with Savoy cabbage, braised chickpeas and heirloom carrots; the grilled Wagyu meatballs with onion gravy, salsa verde and cannellini beans; the saffron gnocchi with goats curd, burnt butter and marjoram; the warm insalata of white beans, pickled artichokes and blue bantam eggs and a couple of bowls of handmade pasta to go with the meatballs.

We are usually quite big eaters and when the dishes first arrived, we all thought they were a bit on the small side but they turned out to be perfectly portioned and very satisfying.

I don’t  think I’ve ever said this before, but I’ve found it hard to pick a standout dish from our selections.  Both the Crayfish meatballs and the Wagyu meatballs were tender and perfectly complimented by their sauces and accompaniments.  The gnocchi was divine, a burst of flavour in my mouth,  everything about the dish perfect.  And the salad was fresh and delicious with the white beans and pickled artichokes making the dish a lot more hearty than a usual salad.

After all the food was so amazing, even though we were full, we had to try dessert.  We ordered the handmade gelato from the kids menu, two bombolonis, which are custard filled donuts rolled in cinnamon and topped with chocolate sauce and finally the cannoli with ricotta, citrus confit and chocolate chips.

Again all the desserts were delicious.  The kids gelato was a very generous portion and my daughters devoured it.  The bombolonis were crisp on the outside and filled with a silky custard, the slight fault was that the chocolate sauce was a bit over powering.  The cannoli was also fantastic, crunchy and crisp and the filling was creamy with a perfect amount of zest from the citrus confit and surprise bursts of the chocolate chips scattered throughout.

Phone: 09 309 9339