Mecca Stonehouse Cafe

It’s not common I drop by in a place like this very often, primarily because the food is expensive but the place is nice. I guess that’s the price you pay for fine dining. Mecca Stonehouse Cafe is located in Mission Bay, it’s not at the row of shops that people tend to walk pass by, but on the other side where the fountain is.

As you have may have probably guessed, it was an online voucher that got my attention to this place. The menu is not bad, and here are a couple of samples below:

Lamb Shank $35.90.

Prawn and Scallop Fettucine ($34.90).

I found the lamb shanks OK, but surprisingly have had better at another place (BlueStone). Perhaps a bit too wet? The fetuccine was kinda rich, i.e. too much cream but otherwise, still nice.

I can tell this place is where you splash the cash for a date, so I recommend for that. Because afterthat, you can take your date our for a walk and ice cream =). Otherwise, I doubt I’ll be returning. Sorry.

Rating 7/10.

Gina’s Pizza and Pasta Bar

Gina’s restaurant is always an all-time favourite in Auckland. My brother told me about this place when I first came here, and I have to admit, the atmosphere is pretty good. I had the ol’ Entertainment Card voucher, so used it up for this particular occasion. For the ladies, they will enjoy the sight of the Italian men.  A table at Gina’s is difficult to find, so better book in advance through the online system (if it actually works) or the old fashion way (phone call).

For this particular occasion, a few dishes were sampled below:

Calamari Fritti ($15).

Fettucine Mare e Monti ($19.50).

Massimo Grande ($20).

Lasagna ($20.50).

Personally, all dishes were great and reasonably priced.  But I think Italian is no longer a desired item for me. I can find reasonably good dishes, such as pizzas and pastas at many places now. But I guess the reason for Gina’s is the environment. You can tell by the amount of noise, it is quite deafening. I have no bad things to say, everything is reasonable. It may take a while for dishes to arrive, so have many things to say!

My rating 8/10. Have a try.

Verve Cafe

While having a great meal at Thai Friends in Parnell, I noticed the Verve Cafe, which is right next to it. In fact, the guy who sits on the Verve Cafe can literally stare at Thai Friend’s food if they wish to do so. Not a lot of separation between the two if you sit outside. =)

Anyway, this is a rare Western meal in a  while, obviously not counting the numerous amout of fatty meals I’ve been having from KFC, Burger King, McDonalds etc etc. I know, I should stop eating there. It was a late day for me, so a very late lunch at the Verve Cafe. There was a property nearby that I wanted to have a look (it was too cramp if you’re interested to know).

The menu is not so forgiving (in terms of price), at first I thought it was a dinner menu. So, my girlfiend and I decided to go after the specials which were cheaper. Two dishes were sampled as shown below:

verve-cafe-brunch-special 

Brunch Special – Hash Brown stacked with Bacon, Roast Tomato, Rocket and Aioli.

verve-cafe-pasta-special 

Pasta Special – Penne Pasta with Bacon, Mushroom and Tomato in a white wine cream sauce with rocket and parmesan.

The brunch special was only $15, and the pasta special is $18.  The dishes were a good change from all the ethnic variety that I’ve had for the past months! But you just can’t deny that Western food, especially in the cafes are far more expensive. If you’re on peanut incomes like me, I know which one I’d pick. But once in a while, it’s good to try them out. =)

My rating is 8/10. It’s good but be prepared to pay at least $20 per head… for lunch.

Scalini’s

During the summer, I often walk on the beach at St Heliers as I attempt to live a healthy life by exercising. Anyway, there is this Italian shop in the corner of St Heliers shophouses, Scalini’s. It always seem packed, I believe for a reason.

Curiosity got to me, and so I tried this place on one night on the weekend. My first impression for Scalini’s, it’s not a bad place. Friendly staff and quite a nice environment. Two “standard” dishes ordered for that particular night as shown below.

Smoked Salmon Pizza.

Fettucine Al Pollo.

The prices were the usual, $21.50 for the fettucine, and $17 for the pizza (small size).  Generally, I found the dishes saltier than other places I’ve been to, maybe it is the way pizzas/pastas are meant to be? It didn’t have that WOW factor for me. It seems quite popular for a takeaway – that’s cause it’s cheaper getting takeaway.

Personally, I’m not going back there, because I think Scalini’s is there to serve the St Heliers suburb. There are better places out there I think. My rating 7/10.

One thing I noticed – there is this burger place in the other corner. It smells good! Maybe a return to the area?

Archie’s Pizzeria

Ah, finally Italian. One of my favourite dishes. It’s easy to locate this place. It’s somewhere behind Olympic Pool in Newmarket, specifically at 61 David Crescent (think roundabout). I believe the owner of this place owns the other 2 places next to it – just a hunch. One thing I notice about Archie’s is that they hire backpackers/travellers as waiters (you can tell when they speak). Not a problem to me as long as they’re women!

But I would like to digress somewhat, I found a similar food blog in Bebo reviewing Archie’s – click HERE. It gives a different perspective to Archie’s, mainly negative but it’s a good 2nd opinion. Bear in mind though, in the last paragraph, the poster/blogger recommends Burger King or McDonalds as an alternative. Problem is, stuff in BK/McD are unhealthy and not something I’d recommend.

Anyway, Archie’s is one of my favourite places because during lunchtime they have a special. $10 lunches!! It’s a magnet for couples, tourists, working people etc. I think it works to be honest, pricing is right and size/portion is reasonable. If you want generous, I’d try the pasta. Here are some examples of the food we tried:

Seafood Fettucine.

Pollo e Pesto.

Al Salmone.

Pan Fried Seafood Salad.

For the above, I love the seafood. At one time, I had the Al Salmone, the cook was generous with the salmon portion and it really gave me a good impression. I came back several times. But recently, the salmon portion has been less, but still not that disappointed as the pasta and salad still is very well done and reasonably sized. The polo e pesto (chicken pizza of some sort) is not bad, but I LOVE the salmon pizza. The seafood salad is fantastic and the pasta is generous. Seriously, for $10 you can’t complain and this is not fast food (i.e. Pizza Hut). You get a place to sit and listen to music.

Personally, I don’t think this place has an issue with “temperature” of their food (previously mentioned blog). Portion-wise, it is relatively small and you can’t blame them. For $10, they’ve gotta make some money.  For those who want a light meal, this is great.

I would rate this place highly, 8.5/10 and only for lunch. I believe at dinner time, it goes back to “normal” pricing. Try the seafood offering, or perhaps the salad or pasta. You won’t be disappointed. If you are, let me know.