Previously known as Walnut Cottage, Akarua is a cutesy little cottage located just out of Arrowtown, not much further than Millbrook. After pulling into the gravel carpark, we made our way to the entrance across the sun-streamed patio and outdoor tables. We were welcomed at the door and seated immediately, despite not having a booking. Given that it was winter, we were torn whether to sit inside or out, but the sun-streamed patio really was too good to turn down.
As we sat, our waitress told us about the daily specials and we were all super impressed to hear that all of the fish dishes were actually different types of fish (not just the stock standard ‘tarakihi’ – which is delicious mind you). I found the roasted parsnip and pear soup just too delicious sounding to resist, and I was stoked to see the big bowl of fried ciabatta that came out for the table for dunking. The meals were all very well balanced, delicate and absolutely beautiful to look at.
The prices were definitely above average, but it was definitely a ‘pay for what you get for’ type lunch because the food really was outstanding. I had a warming glass of mulled wine that was extremely aromatic.
Around the back of the restaurant (by the toilets) is a massive sandpit which seemed like a really good way to keep the kids entertained while the adults enjoy a longer lunch. I would definitely recommend this spot!
Waiheke Island is somewhere that I wanted to visit for a very long time before I actually got the opportunity to go there. Recently (August 2017) I went to visit my brother and mum up in Auckland and we made the journey across to Waiheke. The weather was pretty good; a relatively warm winter’s day with not much wind. We hopped aboard the hop-on hop-off bus (which I would entirely endorse if you are heading over for a day-trip) and made our way around the island. It was apparent that during the winter time lots of the wineries and cafes close their doors to do some maintenance & renovations etc which meant that when we got to Onetangi we were pretty stretched for choice. And by stretched, I mean we had no choice. However, our tour guide was strongly of the opinion that even if everything had been opened, Charley Farley’s is the place he would recommend anyway. We were happy to oblige.
Charley Farley’s had a very family friendly menu with quite a few options that suggested the menu was Asian influenced. There was also a large selection of standard beach bar food – burgers, fish and chips, salads and a bunch of slices and quiche in the cabinet. Even though the place was packed, it was big enough that turnover was sufficient to allow us the choice of sitting inside or outside. It was a nice enough day that we opted for outside.
Once making our choices we ordered at the bar and settled back to wait. We didn’t have to wait long for the food, considering how busy they were the food was surprisingly quick. We then had to eat our food quickly to ensure that the hovering seagulls didn’t nab it first. I had the fried chicken burger, and although I thought the chicken tasted like it had been cooked a bit earlier and just kept warm, the rest of the burger was tasty and there were plenty of chips. The fish and chips looked delicious, and the portions were massive.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner I expect that this place is pretty popular by the locals.
A visit to Arrowtown is never complete without a visit to the Arrowtown Bakery. Famed for its pies (and venison in particular), th e Arrowtown Bakery also does a good coffee and some delicious scrumptious pastries. Conveniently located on the very edge of town, there is a parking lot across the road or you could just nab a park if you plan to take away. There is a designated eating space, which is family-friendly. It’s hard to say what a good pie is worth these days, but at $6 a pop, I think these pies are definitely worth it. I’ve had a few of the flavours now, and I would certainly recommend the Thai green chicken curry, in addition to the lamb and mint as well as the butter chicken flavours.
When I went to South East Asia I think Pad Thai was probably the food I ate most often. It’s so incredibly delicious, and so conceptually simple – just noodles with a few delicious flavours. The Thai people have a way of cooking this noodle dish that is fresh, light and super tasty – something that can be harder to come by in New Zealand. However, over time I have managed to pinpoint some of the better places around Wellington that do serve up a tasty Pad Thai. I have also found a recipe that I love, and have made it often enough that in my eyes it is now my ideal Pad Thai – hopefully when I go back to Asia their Pad Thai lives up to mine!
Pad Thai noodles
1 large chicken breast, sliced into strips
Spring onion, chopped finely
2 eggs, whisked
2 t lemon juice
2 T brown sugar
3 garlic, crushed
3 T fish sauce
3 T soy sauce
6 T peanuts
mung bean sprouts
1/2 c peanut butter
Cook the noodles.
Cook the beaten eggs 75% of the way through, chop and set aside.
Cook the chicken, garlic, spring onion.
Add the noodles, fish sauce, soy sauce, peanut butter, lemon juice, sugar, chilli.
Lastly add the sprouts, peanuts, omelette and coriander.
Not long open in Wellington’s CBD, Two Grey is actually a part of the Intercontinental. It’s flash, certainly a lot more upmarket than its predecessor (Arizona), and definitely a lot more fancy than what I anticipated when we went there. It’s sophisticated, expensive and well-serviced. There were a number of items on the menu that I hadn’t heard of, but when the waiter explained them to me I thought they all sounded delicious. I expect that it will do well as a business, given its location to the Intercontinental and to the business district generally, but I did think it was a little flashier than it needed to be. The food was tasty though – and our waiter was lovely.
House Cafe (corner of Crosses Road and Napier Road)
Avoiding some of the more popular spots on a long weekend in the Bay, Dad suggested that we head along to House Cafe which is tucked away on the corner of Crosses Road and Napier Road. It’s not that obvious a spot; one of those places that would be entirely easy to miss. I was a teeny bit skeptical after I saw the prices of the menu – it was so ridiculously cheap; for example, $14.50 for a chicken burger and chips, and $9.50 for their world-famous slow-cooked mince on toast. There is seating both inside and outside, and they’re not afraid to pump the heater in these cold winter months. The food came out and everything was well above standard. The coffee was also good and the staff friendly. Solid effort.
It can be so exciting coming up with variations to your traditional soup flavours. Gone are the days where the choices were pumpkin soup, tomato soup and mushroom soup – now there are always countless flavours to choose from. It’s great making soup too – although it seems time-consuming, it’s actually really easy when you can just chuck a bunch of stuff in a pot and leave it to simmer for a few hours! It’s a super cost-efficient meal as well; and I always like to make a big batch and then freeze a few containers worth so that it gives me some meals in the future.
1 T oil
1 c bacon
500 g potatoes
6 c chicken stock
1/4 c cream
Heat oil and add the bacon. Once cooked, remove and leave to rest on a paper towel.
Add garlic and leek to the same pan (don’t wash it out, the bacon juices give it flavour) and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add cauliflower, potatoes and stock. Partially cover.
Increase heat to a boil and then simmer for about 35 minutes. Cool.
With winter comes the excuse to cook hearty, warming dishes and this chicken pie is certainly no exception. It’s a relatively straight-forward recipe and definitely feeds the crew. The saucy centre of the pie also means that it’s a great dish for freezing (although you lose the puffiness of the pastry; but it still tastes fine!), so you can be reassured that none of it will go to waste.
1 T oil
850 g chicken
250 g bacon
1/3 c flour
2 c chicken stock
thyme (fresh if possible)
375 g puff pastry
1 egg, whisked
Cook the chicken. I usually do this by boiling the chicken in a pot of water for a few hours, until the meat basically falls away from the bone.
Add the bacon, garlic and leek to a heated pan for approximately 5 minutes.
Add the flour and cook for 30 seconds.
Remove from heat and stir in the stock.
Add the chicken and thyme for about 8 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken.
Once it reaches a boil, season with salt and pepper and then cool.
With the oven on 220°C bake put the mixture into an oven dish and cover generously with the pastry. If desirable, you can line the entire dish with pastry, just make sure you grease the dish first.
Brush the pastry with the whisked egg and bake until golden.
Bay Espresso is basically an HB institution. With locations not just in Havelock, but also on Karamu Road and Omahu Road, you are never that far away from a cafe. With its very own roastery (I’ve seen various cafes nationwide stocking Bay Espresso coffee) the coffee is extremely delicious, and I always make sure to stop in at its coffee cart when I’m at the farmers’ market. The menus are the same across all three stores, with maybe slight variances daily. The food is pretty good; I personally find it a little expensive for what you get, but not enough to stop me going there. Corn fritters are my go-to, but my Dad rates the garlic mushrooms extremely high. The shop in Havelock is pretty small, so we usually sit on one of the outside tables. Definitely a reliable place food a good meal, and good coffee when you are in and around the Bay.
I had been recommended Amano by a friend at work who had dined there with clients, and I was not to be disappointed. I was instantly impressed by the large open space, openly divided into a number of different areas (it had a similar feel to Prefab in Wellington) which I think means that each time you sat elsewhere it would create a different kind of dining experience. There is an excessive amount of staff wandering around, ready to help and the décor is modern, wooden and floral. They have a really cool system: they take bookings for half of the restaurant only, and the other half of the restaurant functions on a first come, first served basis. Given that we visited on a Sunday morning we thought we would be in for a bit of a wait, but fortunately for the two of us we walked straight into an available table.
The menu is Italian based, with lots of pasta, seafood and meat. All of the food served is of a very high quality. Between us we sampled some of the pasta, as well as one of the chicken dishes. The portion sizes are adequate, but I would recommend that you order a side or two. The meat component of the plate was indeed very generous, but I think that without any sides the meals would feel quite small. There are lots of interesting items, for example I had a nectarine, macadamia and honey smoothie. It’s quite an expensive menu, but if you after quality food it is sure to meet any expectation.