VOP: Food Truck Garage: a very pleasant surprise

Shall we go out to brunch on Sunday said my friend Al. Good idea. Where? How about the Food Truck Garage? Quick check of the menu. Uh oh! No eggs benny!! Looks like it’s more lunchy! Alright let’s give it a go.

So we arrived at 11 just as they were opening – scored an outside table. Waiter arrived promptly with water (always a good sign), coffee orders placed. So far so good.

A quick squiz at the menu confirmed my worst fears – no eggs anything!! However my eyes were drawn to the Tokyo Slaw and I started to feel better. Good coffee arrived and we settled in for what turned out to be a very pleasant experience.

Al & I had the Tokyo Slaw with poached free range chicken. The slaw was a ripper – red & green cabbage, snow pea shoots, edamame beans, crushed almonds, green apple & teriyaki dressing – and the chicken plentiful and tender. A most enjoyable eating experience.IMG_2154

The girls had the “Chilli Chickette” meet pattie (not a typo if you don’t mind). They call it a sandwich, we’d call it a burger!!  It was free range chicken & courgette pattie with spicy harissa, red cabbage, rocket, red onion, cucumber, coriander, mint and Greek yoghurt – sound a mouthful? It was, and a tasty one at that. Oh and the buns are made of spelt flour!IMG_2157

Sides of Bakes (chips) being skin on agria potatoes, golden kumara & beetroot w. homemade tomato sauce and Little Tokyo – a smaller version of their Tokyo slaw. All delicious.IMG_2153

So I went from doubter to believer in about 4 bites!!

Michael, you’ve done a great job in keeping faith with the concept. And thank you for not having eggs benny on the menu. It meant I had to try something else and I loved it. As lesson for us all!

Excellent healthy food, friendly & attentive service. You’ve gotta go there!

Mexico: don’t you just love it

This is the third post I’ve done about Mexico (the restaurant) – they must be doing something right. And of course they absolutely are.

Ponsonby Mexico this time. Friday night. Stroll up Norfolk Street. Turn right and we were there. And as a bonus there was a street side table available for the grabbing. Fortunate as it was full and jumping inside!

Actually it was the first time we’d been back since the opening night so were keen to consider the full menu option. As you would. Water arrived promptly, menus already on the table (I like that), waitress arrived, order taken. 5 minutes. Great. Drinks: Margarita (of course) pour madame and Virgin margarita pour moi – to mix my languages – just felt like bursting into French haha.

Ordered 2 soft shell tacos (pan fried fish w/ salsa gribiche, chipotle mayo, red slaw and braised pork belly w/ pomegranate, spiced cabbage, sesame), Mexico fried chicken and a quesadilla (chipotle chicken, portobello mushrooms, oregano & salsa borracha).

The fried chicken arrived in no time, closely followed by the rest. Even before the drinks!

 

Anyway, to return to the virgin margarita. I often like to sample the non-alcoholic fare and I liked the sound of it – rose water, apple juice, lime juice, sugar, cinnamon rim. It was divine.

That fried chicken though – that is the standout offering for me – being a bit of an old fan of the Colonel. Actually a bit of a new fan as well. Only tend to have it when Deb’s out – then I can tell her I had chicken and salad without having to fib!! But I digress.

The tacos and the quesadilla were scrummy. Oh yes we had a vegetable special as well – little roast potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce – sooo nice.

Mexico smorgasbord

Mexico smorgasbord

Meantime all was abustle around us with the passing Friday night revellers. Such fun.

For completeness (of course!) we had to try the desserts – Deb had the chocolate tart, the Mexican donuts special for me. The donuts were splendid – five mini donut balls with gooey chocolate in the middle.

TDF Donuts

TDF Donuts

So another enjoyable night at Mexico. Food was excellent, service was friendly and attentive and maître d’ Josh was a star.

Thanks again to the wonderful Mimi and her team. Oh and Mimi, get those donuts permanently on the menu please.

Ponsonby Road Bistro: first time visit, won’t be the last

I don’t know why but we had never been to PRB – until last Saturday night that is. Rebecca is a regular there and it has always been on my (ice) bucket list haha.

So there we were, party of six, with our southern visitors Pork & Ant.

We got there at 7 – early enough to be able to negotiate a table in the front section which was great because I like light and open! We had a few minutes before the rest of the party arrived so sat up at the bar for our first drink – always a pleasant thing to do.

Service was prompt and friendly. A bottle of Taittinger Brut Reserve NV for a little celebration to start  with followed by excellent breads and fantastic chicken liver pate with chutney & toast

I’m always interested in restaurants that have sardines on the menu – many in Europe, not so many here. I like sardines (from the tin mind you) mixed with vinegar, spread on toast, cheese on top, grilled and then with a spread of mustard pickles. Divine. Most people go oooh! But I digress.

So I ordered the sardine (one biggie) which was very tasty and I enjoyed the flavour blend – it had been marinated in bay, lemon, garlic & paprika and was served on a slice of Catalan tomato bread. The others shared a couple of calamari entrees. No sharing of the sardine I’m afraid!!

Entree cropped

By this stage the champagne bottle was sitting upside down in the ice bucket so while the others had a red and a white I opted for English cider (Aspall Crisp Suffolk Draught) which comes in a 500 ml bottle and which I found very refreshing. I’d only really started drinking cider when we were in England in July and I find it a most agreeable alternative.

For a main I had the chargrilled scotch fillet with chunky chips and a parsley-garlic butter which I thoroughly enjoyed as did the other three carnivores. Pork & Deb had the miso & sesame crusted Stewart Island salmon with a salad of asparagus, broccoli & soba noodles and cucumber- yuzu-ginger-soy dressing which they declared superb. (sorry but remembered to take the photo well after I’d started!!)

Main cropped

By this stage of the evening the sun light had disappeared and the restaurant lighting kicked in so it was necessary to use one of the most important apps on the iPhone – the flashlight haha – to read the dessert menu. As I was perusing the menu I was distracted by a beam of light from behind. Turned around and there was an old mate pointing his torch at me – so I’m not the only one to use this approach!!

Actually it’s the “puddings” menu (love it when they call them puddings!!). It’s short in length but packed with tempting variety. However it was an easy choice for me and, while the others shared two puddings, I went for the (not shared) warm Valrhona chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce & crème fraiche. Heaven.Dessert cropped

It was a lovely evening and Blair has perfected a menu/service combo that has seen this award winning bistro stand the test of time. And we had excellent and friendly service from Jay our Welsh waiter.

We’ll be back.

RUBY ‘THE DREAMERS’: Sometimes I wish I was a girl!

Just to prove I’m not one dimensional and obsessed with food, I went to the RUBY ‘THE DREAMERS’ Autumn/Winter 2014 fashion show last night.

The Boiler Room on Level 2 at Victoria Park Market was the perfect venue for what turned out to be a glorious night of wonderful fashion ideas.

Now I am a bit biased here as we have a bit of a connection to Ruby but that said, from the design to the DJ it was a smooth and highly professional production.

The Ruby Planners

The Ruby Planners

As you will know from my previous posts my photos are not that flash (haha) but I did manage to get a couple of snaps of the range – conscious as I am that older men taking photos of young women is not the best form! Well that’s what Deb keeps telling me.

IMG_2026IMG_2024

Deanna has designed a gorgeous range and the show was beautifully styled by Amelia.

And the show was much enjoyed.IMG_2039

And much enjoyedIMG_2045

Yes I know but I told you the photos were ….!

Loved the range, fantastic venue, wonderful staging and splendid music. And we were home by 9. Perfect!!

In stores in February – can’t wait

Orphans Kitchen: It’s fantastic – if you’re game!

We’ve been meaning to go to this new Ponsonby Rd eatery for some time now having been given a voucher for my bday!

So we went last Friday night and what a treat. Tom & Josh have done a wonderful job with the set up. I love the high tables & stools – it gives it a communal eating feel which is quite European but Kiwis don’t seem as keen on it, as you are, in effect, sharing what is a cosy space. More on that later.

Crowd

It’s a small menu with 4 “smallers” and 4 “largers” and 2 desserts but this was not a problem. It was a menu which with my choices proved to be quite gamey and delightfully so.

For smallers Deb had the ora smoked salmon, celeriac, granny smith and horseradish which she pronounced as somewhere between delicious and sublime. I had the alpine merino tortilla, feijoa, millet & sheep’s milk yoghurt which I pronounced delectable. You don’t come across hogget on a menu very often but it was beautifully cooked and of a mild gamey flavour which made the dish quite unique. Sorry about the photo below – I’d eaten the first tortilla before I remembered to take the photo!!

Entrees

For mains, sorry largers, Deb had the beef rump with aubergine, black garlic & backa which was very tasty. I had one of the tastiest meals I have ever had with the wild boar boilup, kumara, doughboys, watercress and flax seeds. It was sensational. Served in a large bowl in the cooking juices, they give you a spoon to get the last drop. Again, on the nice side of gamey, or was that pleasantly smokey.

Mains

There were two sides to choose from so we had one of each: Tina’s wedge salad and kumara chips with smoked sour cream. The wedge salad is in the photo above – Tina had obviously smashed open the iceberg lettuce and poured a delicious dressing over it.

Two desserts so we had one of each. A divine dark Valrhona chocolate, tamarillo, black cardamon and …oops took a photo of the dessert menu and missed out the bit after “and” haha, and a TDF Banofee with young coconut and banana.

Choccy Pud

Banofee Pud

For me the meal was 11 out of 10. Such wonderful tastes and eclectic combinations. Friendly and attentive service (thanks Ana) and it was nice to see Josh on the floor serving and chatting – you don’t see enough of that in Ponsonby restaurants – but that’s another subject for a blog posting!! And I did a quick trip to the kitchen to thank Tom and team for the wonderful meal – not enough of that done either!

Oh and back to those communal tables. We had 3 couples on ours and we ended up having a most interesting chat to the ones nearest us. You can if you want to or not if you don’t. Sometimes it’s nice to share a conversation as well as a table.

And finally Tom tells me they’ll be changing the menu soon. I said leave the boilup on the menu or there’ll be trouble!!

Can’t wait to go back.

Andiamo: an oldie but a very goodie

It’s a while since we’ve been to Andiamo at 194 Jervois Rd Herne Bay. It’ll be a much shorter time before we go again. We had a lovely brunch there last Sunday. I did a quick google search before hand to check out the menu. Deb doesn’t like to do this – she likes the surprise of opening the menu and discovering all the good stuff there and then. I’m a Virgo so I like to peruse the offering in advance. Actually Deb’s a Virgo too!!! Oh well each to their own.

Anyway they have a wonderful Weekend Brunch menu.

I had the LAMB KIDNEYS sautéed with mushrooms and bacon, cream seeded mustard sauce, with toasted five grain. Absolutely divine.

The others had the MEDITERRANEAN TOAST – ciabatta with Manuka honey smoked bacon or smoked salmon, avocado, roasted vine tomatoes, basil pesto and fresh parmigiano. They said it was great.

Photos? Well actually I forgot, in my enthusiasm to get started, and only remembered after I’d finished. It was like a demolition derby!!

So the photo below is slightly gross but testimony to the delicious food served at this fine establishment. Something they’ve been doing for an amazing 29 years.

Andiamos

The service was professional, friendly and attentive. It’s a great spot for weekend brunch and competitively priced in case you were thinking that it might be a bit pricey. And it’s MUCH better than most of the other eating places on the strip. Very much a cut above.

I loved it and will be back soon. I might try the savoury mince next time!

 

Supreme: Just when you thought it couldn’t get better

It’s always been the go to place for great coffee but now Supreme/Good One Café at 42 Douglas Street Ponsonby has gone one better. Closed recently for a revamp the space has exploded to create a setting where (in their words) “the focus has moved from cafe to coffee with a specific brew bar and retail space taking centre stage”.

I was in there on the first day of the new look and it certainly impresses on first sight. I went in the old entrance…(apologies for photo quality – still haven’t quite mastered the iPhone camera – wish I could get them as good as http://www.katherineisawesome.com/)

Old entrance

Old entrance

Instead of the new entrance

New entrance

New entrance

And was confronted with this. Big wow factor here. And the old communal table is still there you’ll be pleased to know.

photo 5

And this

photo 1

But wait there’s more

photo 3

Absolutely transformed and looking good. And still the same great team to provide the best coffee drinking experience in Auckland!! Other than Diz of course haha.

Good one Good One!

 

 

Mexico is here; Mimi you are a star

Mexico Ponsonby had it’s opening last night and was it a blast. Located just a few doors along from Juliette Hogan at 164 Ponsonby Rd it is a most welcome addition to the Ponsonby restaurant/bar scene adding a dimension that hitherto was missing from the local offerings.

Mimi and her team have done a fantastic job in creating the “Mexico” look in a smaller space and it works so well.

Anyway opening night saw the young and young turn out in force plus me – although I did find one other person in my demographic haha.

I arrived to be greeted by the bouncer (the omnipresent Matt Williams who I’ve known for all his life).  So far so good. Mimi in the background as it turns out.

Matt

However I didn’t reckon with the second line of defence, Uh oh as Oli would say.

“Oi you. I don’t recall your name being on the list?” says Mimi.

Mimi

She didn’t really but it makes for a laugh. She was actually saying “Rebecca where are you”.

Those margaritas were to die for and I thought that’s what I was going to do after a couple of those babies – phew. The finger food was divine – especially that fried chicken – can’t get enough of that.

Margarita

Mind you for a moment there I thought I was at Dizengoff when the Dizzies arrived. Jackie and Calla in shot; Troy and Dan not in shot.

Diz crew

Things were obviously starting to hot up at this stage so it was time for me to say buenas noches and wander off home.

Thanks for a great night Mimi and crew – can’t wait to go back for the full menu treatment.

 

A marriage made in heaven – Supreme and Little & Friday

What a joy it was today for Oli and I to go to Good One Café at 42 Douglas Street to not only have the best coffee in town but also to feast my eyes on their new range of goodies from Little & Friday. They’ve always been a friendly bunch at Good One and of course Sam is up for the Metro Barista of the Year. VOTE NOW

So much choice, so few calories allowed!

Anyway back to the treats and of course top of the list is the L&F doughnut. It is the best of the best – stuffed full of custard and jam.

They don't get better than this!

They don’t get better than this!

For those of us trying to do the 5 + 2 diet (yes I am so no LOL please) I’ve just blown my low calorie day in one bite. But worth it, as it’s so divine. Oli loved them as well.

Oli

As you will see from the photo there are other gorgeous goodies as well. Not to mention the yummy pies and toasted sarnies from the normal menu.

And to cap things off Good One Café are doing some renovations from Oct 7th to 12th so the space will be even better for the great range of products and services they provide. I understand coffee will still be served during the renovations

And finally I am so pleased with the new menu offerings as I don’t need to VOP to Newmarket to get my L&F doughnut.

Spring is here, summer fast approaching, life is good.

VOP: Wow Al Brown you’ve done it again with Federal Deli

VOP: Wow Al Brown you’ve done it again with Federal Deli

We’ve ventured outside Ponsonby again – this time to try Al Brown’s new Federal Deli. And we loved it. Sunday night was probably a good time to try it as we had no problem getting a table. Super friendly and attentive service with the water poured literally as we sat down.

For starters we shared amongst 4 of us MEAT SCHTICKS (pea & pastrami croquettes w/ habanero mayo) and SMOKED KAHAWAI CAKES (w/ NZ wasabi & lime mayo) – plenty to go around. And the water kept coming!

For mains we shared SPIT-ROAST CHICKEN (half bird) and VEAL SCHNITZEL (w/ sage & lemon) – again enough for 4. The schnitzel was the best I’ve tasted. And the water kept coming!!

Fed 3

And for dessert we shared NY CHEESECAKE and LEMON MERINGUE PIE. And still the water kept coming!!!

Couldn’t fault anything. It’s casual but efficient, that is, the good part of efficient.

We’ll be back there for breakfast soonest. Well why wouldn’t you with these yummies on offer:

MORNING GLORY breakfast salad w/ haloumi, portobello, poached egg & dukkah GRIDDLE CAKES blueberry buttermilk pancakes w/ cinnamon butter & strudel crunch LATKES crispy potato w/ salmon lox, crème fraiche & dill TREYF pickled pork, poached eggs & horseradish hollandaise on rye SMOKED HASH smoked mullet w/ fresh herbs & poached eggs MISH-MASH pastrami hash w/ poached egg

And finally they’ve got these wicked postcards with a brilliant tag line: Raising Auckland’s cholesterol since 7am

Fed 1

What’s not to love. Well worth crossing the border for!!