Bien (Newmarket)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (including the Chinese version)! I have returned from my long holiday and am going to post my first review for 2012. Enjoy.

Bien has several franchises. I tried out the Newmarket branch on a Thursday night. It’s quiet but can’t complain, the bar next door has outdoor music – so free entertainment? I have to admit the pricing is reasonable, not overpriced. You’d just need to find a parking if driving to Newmarket. Here are some samples.

Tuna Tomato Petite Salad – $4.00.

Salmon Sushi – $3.00 for two pieces.

Spicy Chicken Don – $11.00.

Lemon Grass Chicken Don – $11.00.

Salad and sushi roll are good small bites – excellent as entres. The chicken dons are not bad as well, I preferred the spicy chicken don. Good value! Bien (Newmarket) is definitely worth a try. Rating 8.5/10.

Cock and Bull (Newmarket)

I haven’t had a bad stint for a while, so it’s about time I got one.

I decided to pay a visit to a very common pub around the Auckland area – Cock & Bull, this particularly one in Newmarket. It always seems lively in Cock & Bull, with lots of people, probably due to the beer and SkySports. This is a good thing. Obviously, I wasn’t here for the beer. I was here for some good ol’ pub food. An Australian tourist once told me it’s the kind of food that fills you up – I guess the word is hearty? I was going to say wholesome – but things like chips, beer, deep-fried isn’t exactly healthy. =)

Some of the pub food I tried:

Scotch Fillet ($29.95).

Cock & Bull Platter ($19.95).

Caesar Salad ($20.95).

Scotch Fillet wasn’t too bad, and I think a great dish to have when you’re watching a football match etc. However, the Cock & Bull platter and Caesar Salad (with smoked chicken) were quite disappointing The platter was mostly full of the cheap stuff – wedges and onion rings. It wasn’t horrible tasting, it just lacked a lot of creativity and variety. The caeser salad had a pungent smell, maybe because of the parmesan or anchovies. Something wasn’t quite right with this all-time favourite of mine. The pricing was OK, I guess it’s standard price.

I’ve always liked pub food, and it’s everywhere in Auckland. Perhaps if you do pop into Cock & Bull, better stick to the basics like chips or pizza. I wasn’t quite so engrossed with some of the selection above.

My rating =5/10.

The Juicery

The Juicery!

Ever since this little place popped out, I’ve enjoyed their juice variety. I think it’s refreshing. It’s an alternative to the sugary fizzy drinks. I have not tried the smoothies but they look good as well (I am more of a juice guy). The Juicery is located at 72 Albert St, close to the corner of Wyndham and Albert St. One sample below:

Apple, carrot and ginger juice.

If you click on the link above (their website), they have their menu and prices. For a small size juice, it’s $5. Personally, I think it’s reasonable, and better than the other commercial place, Tank Juice. It’s fresh and a very unique place. Oh, apparently, if you buy 8, you get one free!

Try it out. My rating, 9.5/10. I like this place.

Eiji Japanese Cuisine

My first post for the year. I hope everyone had a good holiday.

I went to Eiji for lunch with a couple of friends sometime before Christmas. I didn’t even know this place existed especially in the suburbs (St Heliers). I guess you have to be living around there.

Unagi Kabayaki Bento.

Zangi Don.

Salad Side.

First of all the service is great, I guess Japanese restaurant staff tend to be more friendly. The food is quite good, although the price is a bit on the high side, we had the Entertainment card to reduce some of the costs.

The bento costs $22 and the don $14, which is quite reasonable. Although I have to admit, realistically it will be difficult for most people to go to Eiji as it is not “centralised”. But it’s worth a try especially if you’re at the beach in Mission Bay, or have friends / relatives in that area.

My rating is a favourable 8.5/10. Very good.

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.

Lonestar

Lonestar, it’s all over the place.

I went to this restaurant for a birthday celebration, where the birthday guy didn’t know anyone else. Fantastic eh? I’ve been to Lonestar a few times. I’ve tried the lamb in Rototura, and it was quite nice – it probably helped that it was paid by the company *grins* I even tried the vegetarian option, I believe it was the burrito (I had a no-animal for food phase a year ago – check out the PETA website and you’ll see why). Both times I was satisfied.

Just a quick overview about Lonestar, they are like the Hooters of NZ. Girls dress as little as possible, usually wearing a singlet and short shorts. Nice eye-candy for the boys, probably not so for the gals.

This time round to Lonestar, I was pretty disappointed. Maybe because I chose the wrong dish.  Two dishes were sampled shown below:

lonestar-kiwi-joker-copy

Kiwi Joker.

lonestar-cajun-chicken-salad-copy

Cajun Chicken Salad.

The salad was not ordered by me. For $25.50, it was a nice dish but a tad overpriced. Personally, I have not seen a salad over $20 yet, maybe because it was during lunch. I ordered the Kiwi Joker, for $35.50. Now here comes the pun, I thought the dish was a joke! The beef was a ribeye, and I ordered it medium rare. It tasted very average. Nothing in the dish impressed me. It probably took the kitchen 10 mins to make it up (beef + potatoes + coleslaw + mushrooms + onions). For $35.50, I could have had a better dish somewhere else, or 3 very good Asian meals at the Newmarket Plaza Food Court.

This is a biased post as usual, so don’t take the rating too seriously.  Lonestar is just a tad overpriced and could do better with the meals. I probably chose the wrong dish, but sorry Lonestar, I ain’t gonna come back anymore unless someone really likes the place.

My rating, 5/10. I believe they do have good dishes, but to charge $35.50 for a dish, it has to be a flagship product.

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.