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16 to 20/20

Yesterday I visited Orleans down at Roukai Lane with two of my friends. The Southern American inspired restaurant is located where Agents & Merchants used to be and I can say with full confidence the change is definitely no one’s loss. The place was packed during the lunch hour and atmosphere and decor were a definite highlight. We were almost instantly transported out of Auckland. It’s dark inside with small hanging light bulbs, the walls are lined with wooden planks and the bar area decorated with an assortment of old-fashioned picture frames and the odd mask and American flag. At the back of the restaurant there is a piano and a drum kit for their live music sessions. Between the three of us we had some big bowls, small bowls and dessert.

  • The Jambalaya Balls ($10) were tasty and went well with the gravy.
  • The famous Chicken Waffles ($12) were controversial, either you hated it or you loved it. At our table it was a 1-1 and ‘not sure’ situation. It was an interesting combination and we thought both components were well made.
  • We also enjoyed the Curly Fries ($6) a lot. They were crispy and delicious with the chipotle mayo.
  • I liked the Flat Iron Steak ($18) but I liked the blackened vegetables more.
  • Last but not least, the Baked Cheesecake ($10) sealed the deal. My favourite from the entire meal. This was paired with bruleed banana and butterscotch. It was light and it was good.

Overall the food is delicious, the portions probably a little smaller than expected but we’re definitely happy to have this restaurant join us in Britomart. Service was quick and attentive. If you were to ask me whether I liked Miss Clawdy (read here) better or Orleans, I would think they’re reasonably spaced apart from each other to not be too much of a one-or-the-other choice (though Miss Clawdy wins for a slightly larger menu). I would go to Miss Clawdy for the cherry lemonade and the jerk chicken and Orleans for the cheesecake and curly fries. Someone takeaway for me and meet me at the wharf?

Note: Orleans close on Sundays.
EDIT – they now open Sundays too! 21/10/13

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I got my friends to join in on rating the overall dining experience and here’s what we decided:chalkboard-ratingsOrleans.
Roukai Lane. 48 Customs Street East, Auckland Central.

I’m sold. These Montreal bagels are terribly tasty. Within one week, I’d been there twice already.

Best Ugly Bagels is located in the growing City Works Depot, headed by Al Brown, the mastermind behind Depot Eatery (previous blog post here) and the upcoming Federal Delicatessen. These no-salt bagels are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and have a slight tinge of honey sweetness. We had the TAB ($8) with tomato, avocado and basil, and the YODI ($10) with pastrami, swiss, habanero mustard and pickle. They were matched to perfection. The ingredients are paired so well, to a certain point they’ll be able to make you eat things you normally wouldn’t, as my companions tell me – obviously they were referring to things like mustard and pickle, or so I hope. Personally, I enjoyed these two over the KING ($12) which has lox, capers, red onion and cream cheese. There wasn’t enough salmon. Aside from the sesame bagel there is also the poppy, plain ugly and cinnamon and raisin. Do try the sweet spreads, the peanut butter and jelly combo ($4.50) was delicious. Best Ugly have recipes listed on their website for you to make at home, go for it if you will but I’ll like mine straight from the fire.

Wood-fired bagels, what’s there not to love?

Other restaurants at City Works Depot that we have blogged and reviewed: Food Truck Garage.

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Best Ugly Bagels.
City Works Depot. Cnr Wellesley & Nelson Street, Auckland Central.

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Today we visited Miss Clawdy down at North Wharf, a newly opened (just one week) restaurant inspired by the Southern USA. We were immediately impressed with the decor inside. The hanging wicket baskets, bare lightbulbs, dried flower displays and splashes of colour paired with some great music gave it a warm, vibrant and happy atmosphere. It was a sanctuary from the torrential wind and rain outside. Between three we ordered the Fish Taco ($6), Pulled Pork Taco ($6), Jambalaya ($14), Hand cut Street Fries ($7.50) and Southern Fried Jerk Chicken ($14). To drink we had an Old Fashioned Cherry Lemonade Cocktail ($12.50). The chicken and fries were amazing amazing stuff. We highly recommend. It’s possibly the best fried chicken we’ve had, possibly. Taco wise, the tortillas were well made with a little crisp to it. We enjoyed the fish over the pork. The lemonade is made with the following – citron vodka, briottet creme de marasquin, orange bitters and homemade lemonade over lemonade ice cubes. It was incredibly refreshing, full of flavour and had the right amount of tang to it. The lemonade ice cubes also meant your drink won’t water down as time passes. Dessert failed us a little, we had the Key Lime Pie ($10) but it was too sweet and the pastry a little soggy. Service was attentive.

This is no doubt a great addition to the growing Auckland food scene. We just missed out on the ribs this time round (it sounds super delicious), but never fear we’ll be back alright.

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12 Jellicoe Street, North Wharf, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland Central.
(Inside the ASB building)

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Having awoken late on a lazy weekend, we desperately searched for a decent lunch disguised as an afternoon tea in the city. After having been told pizzas at Merchant of Venice were to take 50 minutes we hurriedly moved on to Britomart (this was at about 2pm, Saturday). Tyler St Garage was pitch black and Ortolana was full, luckily we snatched up a spot in The Store’s dine-in area. Inside, The Store adopts the same honeycomb wooden walls Milse has. Their award-winning ice cream is also available. On the other side of the restaurant is an on-the-go takeout area where they offer gourmet food and coffee. Of course by dining at a Hip Group restaurant we know that service is going to be impeccable.

Boni ordered the Kiwi classic Fish n chips ($21) and a vanilla milkshake ($6.50) whilst I had the Eggs benedict with bacon ($18.50) and a passionfruit frappe ($6.50). As always the simplest dishes are the hardest to make well and the hardest to please and surprise. We found the fish fresh and the chips thick and crispy. The gribiche was super delicious and flavourful, a nice change to the typical aioli. We were a bit surprised to find the dish accompanied with a slice of toast. It was however very tasty, soft and sweet but not particularly necessary. The vanilla milkshake had a nostalgic taste. It was almost as if we were drinking vanilla bean ice cream, straight. The benes came on two burger style buns that were toasted to perfection. It was accompanied with lots of quality bacon and delicious hollandaise sauce. The frappe was refreshing and full of flavour. We highly recommend paying The Store a visit for some hip breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea!

Other Hip Group restaurants that we have visited and blogged: Ortolana, Takapuna Beach Cafe, Milse

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The Store.
The Pavilions at Britomart. 5B Gore Street, Britomart, Auckland.

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To celebrate Boni graduating, being employed and turning 23 (triple the joy!) we dined at Sails. The restaurant is nestled in the Westhaven marina, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest harbour and is well positioned away from the city noise. Inside, its all quite breathtaking with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing its perfect location. For entrees we chose Salt and pepper squid, two sets of Fresh oysters with Forvum Chardonnay vinegar, Duck leg confit and some Tiger prawns. I was a big fan of the squid as well as the oysters. My main, the Grilled market fish was incredibly fresh and delicious with its crispy skin. For dessert I had the baked lemon cream, of which I am still reminiscing about. It was smooth and creamy, had the right amount of tang to it and just glided in my mouth. I also had a taste of my fellow diners’ dishes but you could also tell how delectable they were as everybody soon became reluctant to share. The restaurant is seafood based but they are also award winning in lamb and beef, I do suggest you stick with these options. Service was impeccable. Overall, it was perfect in atmosphere, interior, location, service and food. This is definitely something special and a must-visit of Auckland. Honestly, we give it full points.

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Sails.
103-113 Westhaven Drive, Westhaven Marina, Auckland.

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P1016712On Friday night, to start off the long weekend I visited Ortolana with a friend. It was a delightful meal and I just couldn’t wait to share with all of you (don’t worry there will be more Melbourne photos still coming). If you haven’t been to the Hip Group’s cafes here in Auckland, you are missing out. Big time. Ortolana – meaning market garden has indeed lived up to its name and its raves, many of the ingredients I believe come from the Group’s own garden. Service was impeccable, as always across the restaurants. We started off with drinks Tamarillo and Pear Frappe, and Lemon and Feijoa Homemade Soda. Both excellent fruit combinations, fresh and simply delicious. I was looking forward to trying the Watermelon and Mint Frappe that I saw on the menu before but since watermelons are out of season right now I guess I’ll have to wait. For the mains we had Beetroot, cumin, feta, hazelnuts, lasagnotte and Market fish with garden harvest. I loved how colourful the lasagnotte was, food looked amazing and tasted amazing. I even had a girl a few tables across walking over and peering at what I was having, after telling her it was the Market fish, she promptly got back and ordered the same. There is nothing on the dishes that are ingredients just for show, everything is essential and everything goes well. You would have your fish with some beans together with some sauce all in one bite and it would be perfect. There was nothing left on our plates. I think the most prominent feature of the restaurant is the freshness. Everything tastes fresh, looks fresh. You won’t feel bogged down with heavy food, it makes you light and happy. It would be better if they offered more dessert options from Milse though.

We decided to pop over to Milse ourselves and after having been told there was 40 minute wait we put our names down and had a stroll around Britomart. It was going well past the hour so instead we decided to try again another time and have takeaway for now. Going back to the restaurant, it was as hectic as ever. The corridor was full, people were waiting outside and the standard of service was lower. People waiting to pay, people wanting to get desserts and people standing there with their popsicles just not sure what to do. It was all very crazy. Nevertheless we managed to buy a few a la carte items, the Lemon, Blueberry and Thyme cake, the Mango and Coconut Popsicle, and the Valrhona Chocolate, Armagnac and Salted Caramel cake. Amazing desserts. The lemon cake was soft, had the right amount of tang to it and also a surprise crunch. (I’m not too sure about the pricing, the girl charged me $8 for the lemon cake but having just looked at the patisserie menu online it says $7.) These are honestly at the next level, you can tell they draw inspiration internationally as its nothing you would expect having here in Auckland. You have to try it to experience it yourself. Hopefully they will figure out how to deal with the night rush but I will be back during the day for some beautiful dessert food art.P1016695 P1016705 P1016702 P1016700 P1016699 P1016685 P1016706 P1016707
Ortolana and Milse.
The Pavillions, Britomart, Auckland Central.

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I’m so glad we managed to grasp the last days of sunshine before we jump straight into winter (have a look at our previous post where we spent a wonderful summer-like night out at the Silo Park down by the waterfront). Auckland weather…looks like we missed autumn for the meantime, as I write this post it is pouring and wind is pounding heavily against my window.

For a quick catch up in-between classes, my friend and I went to Renkon on Durham Street. Now this is a well-known, hot Japanese eatery so I don’t think much needs to be said. This is a favourite of mine, which I frequented in the beginning years of university. We both hadn’t visited in at least a year or two so were craving it a great deal. Now, I. do. not. know. what was wrong with me, or where I have been – the food, was good. My miso pork katsu donburi was incredibly delicious and was the perfect size, perfect amount of rice and perfect amount of meat. It was full of flavour, though I think I could do without the generous blob of mayo to the side, it was in most part left untouched. The beef curry udon received similar praise. With regular prices ranging from $10-$12 this is a great place to stopover, the store is small so we were quite lucky to have found a seat (but people don’t linger too long anyway). There was a short line to order and lots and lots of people getting takeaways – I must do that one day too, I unashamedly have an attraction towards well-made paper bags. However busy the restaurant the service was still very well done. The range in the city store isn’t extensive, I believe the ones in Parnell and Takapuna have salmon and avocado donburi-yum!

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10 Durham Street East, Auckland Central.

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