The purpose of this page is to provide constructive (not destructive) reviews of cafes and restaurants so that consumers may have an idea of what to expect when visiting a destination. The final score is based on a 3 star system.
One * = Good
Two ** = Very good
Three *** = Outstanding
I was there for an appointment mid morning in November and I instantly liked the outdoor furniture sets. They looked perfect for a coffee in the soft morning air. Walking through the front door my first impression was that it was quite dark inside, possibly an effect created by the verandah roof on the front of the building. I quickly forgot the penombre as I received a cheery and sincere hello from the young lady behind the counter. Warm, kind and a deft hand on the espresso machine, she made a perfect latte and very satisfying long black. The Hawaian mousetrap that I ordered arrived in mere minutes. It was quite a treat to look at and just delicious! A chunky slice of bread, big pieces of carved ham and a nice crunchy texture. It was a delightful moment for morning tea, I must investigate further.
Visited mid-week on a sunny midsummer evening The Chatto Creek Tavern delivered on all levels.
Entering the main bar area, I was greeted by the gentle murmur of locals enjoying refreshing pints after the days' activity and politely pointed in the direction of the dining area. It was slightly separated from the bar but the doorway was wide enough, to let the comforting noise of local history being written, penetrate into the dining space.
The kind and warm member of the team who served us had a local connection and perfectly complimented the style of the establishment. She came to seat us and we were promptly watered. As I settled into the rough stone and permanent material surroundings I was able to quickly and greedily pick my dinner choices. The paper menu felt nice to the touch and added to the pure feeling of the dining area. The entrees (Mussels in white wine sauce and buffalo wings) left me stunned! I wasn't expecting such delicate flavours delivered in a robust, country style and delivered with impeccable timing. Our kind, humble waitress whisked entree dishes away and after a comfortable break the mains arrived (Chicken Parmigiana, 500g Stack of ribs and Pork Roulade). Fresh, hot, full of flavour and with proper, country size portions we devoured them with as much gusto as possible. One of my fellow eaters had more rib sauce on his person than on his plate! The stand out ingredient for me was something so simple but refreshing, crunchy green beans cooked perfectly!!!!!
I still felt tempted enough to take on dessert because I was sure it would be just as unique and spot on. The deep fried Red berry ice cream and Ginger bread were made with a deft hand and a refined palate. We were lucky enough to have them delivered to the table by the chef herself. She was a beautiful example of stoic competence, as we delivered our compliments she replied in a manner of someone who is capable of doing this day in and day out without lowering her standard. Well done.
The Tavern changed ownership at the start of November 2020 and I hope that the new owners will heed the level of competence already present within the walls of Chatto Creek. Good luck for the future and thank you for the best restaurant meal I've had since 2018
Arriving at The Good Earth Cafe for a mid morning meeting I arrived early and ordered coffee straight from the counter. I had a nice chat with the barista who was a cheerful chap well in charge of his espresso machine. Whilst she was delightful, I could barely hear the lady manning the till, I had to lean over the counter to understand what she was asking me.
I headed to a table in the lower area, beside the big windows looking out over the one way system flowing south. Even with only a few tables occupied, the acoustics of the room were quite noticeable. Cheerful chit chat at The Good Earth cafe seems to turn into a roar because of the rooms' angles. A table that was freed next to me was cleared incredibly quickly and professionally. Well done.
The cheerful chap from the coffee machine arrived with my coffee and the caramel + chocolate cake. He offered a few brief general conversation lines and headed off, no doubt to make more great long blacks. Good man! The cake was perfectly accompanied by a small portion of plain yoghurt which was an exquisite contrast to the delicate sweetness of the caramel and chocolate. I was truly surprised, I expected sickly sweet stodge but instead enjoyed every bite. Serving it with a small dessert fork is a nice touch.
Great for a coffee.......much remains to be seen.
Driving down State Highway 1 on the way to Central Otago the need for a burst of coffee and a sandwich made me pull in to the Forum Cafe. It's on the main street of Milton (most folks in Otago give Milton a hard time but it beats most towns in Europe by a country mile, with it's broad streets, friendly locals and great coffee!)
A friendly greeting on arrival made me forget the pouring rain outside and one of the family members working busily in the kitchen came to take my order.
The decor was as I expected it would be but that's fine, it was just right for what I wanted and received swiftly. Best coffee in a hell of a long time, great tasting roast, temperature just right and a delight from initial sip to last desperate lick of the bottom of the cup. The club sandwich was a heavyweight rugby prop from the 1940s, solid, unchanged by time and did the job. White sandwich bread, good rough egg/mayo mix and yummy tomatoes are a timeless New Zealand classic......aaaahhh the memories of those heady days playing schoolboy rugby against Toko came flooding back.
A family owned and operated outfit, guys well done. You do a great job.
Woah! An intense experience. Lovely setting with the backdrop of the rocky hills around the Alexandra basin. I needed a cool drink while taking a break from work. The music was quite loud inside the small cafe, it was quite overwhelming. When I asked the young lady serving me about a possible wifi connection she proceeded to tell me the difference in price of wireless internet connections in Alexandra and in Melbourne, as I gathered her previous port of call. She assured me quite honestly that wireless internet costs a lot more in Alexandra and that it was outrageous.
After that delightful interlude I headed back out to the courtyard area and sat down at one of the quite comfortable large wooden tables. I sat down in time to witness a young waitress spill a delicious looking cafe au lait onto the lap of a lady guest! Woah! Entertainment with my dinner. After the show I was voraciously attacked by sandflies, which happens in Alexandra after the rain. Swatting the little pests I went on my merry way, rehydrated and thoroughly entertained.
Best of luck guys
In New Zealand some people work hard and deliver every day. They do it not to impress but because it's in their genes, because it's what's they learned from the generations before them. At Eat Humble Pie in Alexandra, the people who work there are just wonderful. They prepare the best pies I've ever had and do so with typical Otago stoicism.
New Zealanders may have forgotten the delights of the true Kiwi cafe/bakery but those who are lucky enough to visit and eat here will leave feeling royally fed and refreshed by the simplicity of the surroundings. The steak, cheese and onion pies were devoured along with a steak, cheese and bacon pie and TWO sausage rolls! All that for just two people! The flavours were so damn satisfying we could not stop. Everything about the pie/s was yum, crunchy but soft pastry, big chunks of tender steak and still crunchy onion! The sausage rolls had a wholesome texture wrapped in golden pastry.....great.
Everything here was as it should be in a small town NZ cafe and I will return, again and again and again
Well done and thank you for your kind, warm hospitality.
Bloody hell! WOAH! Byebye pretentious food destinations. I've found food nirvana in Dunedin. Crammed full of people, a menu like an encyclopedia, babies screaming.....but oh the food!!!
The first table my companion and I sat at was a little noisy due to the acoustics in its corner so we asked to move to another table, which was easily and quickly organised without a fuss. We had ordered at the first table and our banquet was on its way. We filled in the short time it took with pointless banter and gossip about the people at the next table.
Our dishes arrived at the table with damn good timing given how busy the restaurant was. Curry fish bites are delicious, somewhat tasting of peanut satay. Prawn wonton soup that was silky, full of flavour and actually thirst quenching.....yum. Thin strips of pork belly seemed visually underwhelming but perfect crispy skin and tender flesh had my knees trembling. The piece de resistance was the actually "sizzling" pork mince stuffed eggplant.......
I was so taken with the experience. The food, the genuine atmosphere and the warm, friendly, precise service meant the whole time spent in Sichuan 88 gave me everything I desired on a wet Dunedin night! All the components of a restaurant experience were in harmony and so what about the noise, noise is great, it means you're alive and that the restaurant is full!
Loved it, absolute ripper. Go Sichuan team, go!
Curry fish bites
A lovely sunny day led to the need for a thirst-quenching glass of wine. A slight detour off the beaten track and I found myself outside Pitches Store, Ophir in the Ida Valley.
Sadly my enthusiasm drained as soon the wait staff member showed reluctance to help us in our quest for a tasty drop. We were the only people in the entire place and we were not even shown to an appropriate table.
Eventually after I physically had to go to the bar to order our wine and snacks we settled in to quite a nice moment of rest over excellent wine. My feeling of disapointment returned when I cast a quick look at the floor under the table and around us. I won't elaborate to remain respectful of the hardworking members of the wait staff. A small problem with one of the wines was kindly taken care of and some replacement wine poured!
This is a beautiful location in an idyllic, historical setting what a shame it's not being used to its full advantage.
Thank you for your hospitality but I wish you all the best.
Having arrived in Oamaru to sunshine and the mercury hovering around 28 degrees, the hunt began for a fish destination. Upon discovering that Del Mar was closed I ventured further into the centre of the old town. Whilst a companion perused the menu outside a sun soaked restaurant, I quizzed a gentleman/local about the best fish destination in town. "Star and Garter" he stated with absolutely no hesitation.
Down the block and to the left I found the entrance. An old Heritage building housing a soothing, cool interior with great prices on the menu board outside. My companion asked the restaurant manager if dogs were welcome and despite a no dogs policy she quickly arranged to set us up in the back courtyard.
A cool, shaded little cocoon with a few tables and chairs, it was ideal! Before the restaurant manager even brought the menus over she appeared with a bowl of water for the canine!!
After a quick scan of the menu seafood chowder entrees followed by blue cod and ham on the bone were promptly ordered. The food was perfect, the service was, in terms of what service professionals strive to achieve worlwide every day..........perfection. The person who served us was genuine, calm, thoughtful and obviously enjoying herself not too mention how smoothly she hosted us. It was delightful!!!!
A full house and the food even better than last time.
New York, New York....my little town blues are fadin away!!!!!!!
Bl#*dy hell, what a lovely asset to food and cafe culture in Dunedin. Facing into the morning sun to ease into the day. A range of savoury and sweet offerings to sooth the hunger and wet the palate. As a native Frenchman fighting severe homesickness finding the Side On pain au chocolat has brought me back to life. A surreal, soft but yet hair raising crunchy pastry concealing still gooey dark chocolate, the last little morsel ACTUALLY melted on the tongue!
Where as in France bakers stopped putting butter in pastry 20 years ago, Side On has been brave enough to roll back the years to the heyday of French patisserie and add liberal doses of butter to their pastry. Thank you for bringing back tradition! Some things just didn't need changed. The TWO pain au chocolat that I devoured are the single best pastries that I have ever had across the tooth and eclipse any I've ever had in France.
Moving on to the delicious, focacia encased New York style meats sandwich that I equally devoured......wow! Red pepper, fresh basil, half a kilo of various hams and cured meats. Go you beauty!
Side On has erupted onto the Dunedin scene and what a start. Doing well team, doing very well! Here's hoping that the future will be as tasty and consistent.....be careful to develop your own identity and not fall into neo modern coffeehouse cliche.
Arriving into a beautiful well lit space to relative peace and tranquility on Good Friday was nice. As I walked into the main store space I realised you first had to navigate the actual shop before accessing the cafe. Not a problem, a few minutes later I had a few potted treats in a brown paper bag and chose a chicken and bacon filo parcel to have with my morning coffee. Very American. Overall from the outset the staff seemed all to be in late teens to mid twenties with no mature staff on. Maybe it was me but they either seemed strained or flippant no middle ground in sight.
Having selected a seat by the expansive bay windows I tasted the three chutneys/relishes that had been chosen to accompany breakfast. Carefully selected from a huge, buffet style sideboard now on the table in front of me, were,
1. Ploughmans relish
2. New Yorker mustard
3. Spiced Eggplant relish
New Yorker mustard set my bell a clanging! Great stuff. Well done team. After having wiped the smeared food (on the underside of my plate?) off my fingers I devoured the quite tasty/somewhat dry filo parcel. Not bad. Washing it down with dark (very, very hot) coffee I watched with amusement as the young team were quickly overwhelmed with the steady stream of holiday weekend punters flowing in. The 'manager' then made an appearance and promptly commandered the coffee machine.
Worth the visit if you adventure through Geraldine but don't go out of your way.
Chicken and bacon filo parcel.
Let's not mince words. It was a public holiday so it was somewhat astounding that this "restaurant" was even open. A couple who are in a wine club I run happened to also be there! The only two tables in the whole place.
After our meal their point of view summed up my own opinion. He said " it was the worst meal I've had in a very long time". I agree. I would like to know how anyone could run a business for any length of time carrying on this way. This isn't hospitality, it's saddening.
Kind regards folks but really, I wish you all the best.
Chicken, beef and prawn, rice noodle wonton soup! Astounding mix but sadly no true flavor anywhere.
From the depths of despair (Sampan House) to ecstasy!
I made a beeline for the door as soon as I spotted this little hole in the wall. Home was tugging on my heartstrings (The Alsaciens invented waffles not the Belgians). After a slightly bizarre exchange with the young lady manning the waffle machine (she tried to send us somewhere else to spend our money) I chose the Kitkat chocolate affair with a scoop of mint, chocolate ice cream!
Despite my reservations that the only space available inside would be the tiny bar against the window, the waffle lady kindly told us about the upstairs lounge. Wow, what a treat! Warm, cosy, soft foreign language jazz filtering in the background. A delightful place for a forkful of dessert. The waffles arrived and I just slammed my face into my plate, no actually I didn't but woah what a decadent discovery. Every mouthful a sin in itself!
Enough said. If you live anywhere within a 600km radius of New Regent Street get down here and line up!
Lovely, warm Kiwiana atmosphere. A golf team heading through town had stopped in for plates of bacon, eggs, and sausages. There were happy faces all around me, things were looking good.
Everything was in its place, Formica tables, mismatched chairs, salt and pepper shakers on tables. Picture perfect. Even though it was Easter Sunday, the owners (past retirement age) were clearing tables and cheerfully chatting with the families around them. When the food arrived I could feel the second star rising for Cafe 39 (named after it's street number). Steaming, crunchy hash browns, soft but crunchy rashers of bacon, same soft but crunchy sausage and as for the two deliciously moist eggs on toast........they were enough to inspire a man to folly.
I have no qualm in stating very firmly that Cafe 39 in Hokitika serve the BEST Kiwi/big breakfast on the West Coast. Just good, honest food served in the country way by kind, genuine Coasters.
Long live New Zealand!
Another day and yes another Kiwi/big breakfast to test the validity of my claim about Cafe 39.
Once I had yelled at the top of my lungs (over the deafening music) to the owner of Neve Cafe that I would like breakfast, he yelled back at me that it was served for the whole day. What the hell that meant, I had no clue as I wanted my breakfast here and now. I then realised because of the ridiculously loud music that he actually hadn't heard me. I ordered the breakfast and an iced coffee.
Choosing the table the furthest distance from the cafe, my cheeks had barely touched the bench before both coffee and big breakfast appeared under my nose. Very quick, far too quick in fact. Whilst the iced coffee was exceptional, breakfast was disjointed. The flavors were slightly off and everything too clinical (the sausages looked fake).
When the owner zoomed past the table I pleaded with him to turn the music down. Thankfully he did.
Lovely coffee, see you again next time I'm through (good entertainment is hard to find these days).
Apparently this delicious treat is served the whole day too!
Middle Eastern fusion cuisine. Whenever I see or hear the word fusion beside food these days, I run. This time I stood and delivered.
For the food, I'm glad I did. Easy to decipher menu and choice of plate sizes. Once you've chosen which portion size you'd like, you then choose a meat component (if you're that way inclined of course) plus your choice of a number of sides. The number of sides depends on the size of dish you chose prior, get it? It's all common sense. The food was delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the sun tasting the different flavors present.
Slow-cooked beef cheek with your choice of sides and salads.
A seaside village on a rainy, windswept coastal Otago day. Rainjacket on and chin tucked into my collar to keep out the chilly wind.....the scene was set
and I discovered a 3 star destination!!!!!!!!!!
This is hospitality. A warm welcome, prompt service, cheerful and kind banter whilst looking out over the wild Pacific ocean. Then the magic....
PROPER & HONEST FISH & CHIPS and because it was closing time the kind lady who had served me, added half a crayfish to my order, on the house!
I could easily write another page about why I've decided to appoint the FishWife the ultimate 3 Stars but instead I'll bite my tongue and let you discover it yourself.
Half a scoop of delicious, crunchy, and tender chips, sole, groper, and the crayfish!
Tucked away against the Manuherikia River at the edge of the beautiful Ida Valley are hidden the softest, homemade pulled pork flatbreads! They are made by the dutiful and cheerful family team of the Muddy Creek Cafe.
Don't be fooled by the demure facade, inside you will find warmth and country comfort. Speedy service with a smile then it's time to sit down at a table and listen to the local gossip and stories playing out at the tables next door.
On one side you have a cafe and restaurant and if you can't find a meal to suit you there, well step two metres south east and you'll find yourself in the local chippie with the same cheerful family serving you. Maybe something will take your fancy on the hand written chalk board.
Next time you travel through Alexandra (or towards the Ida Valley) make the short trip out, it's well worth it.
Home made pulled pork flatbreads topped with fresh salad and beetroot.