First Impressions - Asana By Pete Evans

Two weeks ago I was in Brisbane for work and while staying at Capri by Fraser, I invited Monty to join me for dinner downstairs at Asana by Pete Evans* as a wee birthday treat following his birthday two days earlier.  

Asana by Pete Evans is classed as a fine dining restaurant, something clearly reflected in the quality of the food, the price of the food and the exemplary service. I found myself admiring the vertical gardens which bought a fresh and natural perspective into the restaurant. I was unimpressed with the tables and seating. Most of the tables had the option of one person on a booth side and the other on a metal seat. I let Monty have the booth and I took the seat. It was hard and metal with no cushioning which made for an uncomfortable dinner. The table was also very small leaving little space to. Because of this I felt more like I was dining at a cafe rather than a fine dining restaurant. 

After scanning the menu, they had options of small plates and large plates along with broths given the Paleo influence the restaurant has. 

We skipped entrees and chose two of the smaller small plates as sides to have with our mains which we chose from the large plate section of the menu. As most of you know, I order fries with everything so I knew the sweet potato (otherwise known as kumara) fries were a must.

I've never had kumara chips dining out that tasted better than the ones I cook at home until I tried these. They also made me feel guilt free being oven roasted rather deep fried. They had a crispy outer shell and were soft on the inside. The sweetness from the added cinnamon really gave it a unique flavour. Since dining here, I've (unsuccessfully) tried adding cinnamon to my own sweet potato (kumara) chips. It's served with a side of sriracha mayo which I had never tried before and found myself allured by it. 

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Fries with cinnamon, rosemary and thyme - $9

Roasted Organic Baby Carrots with almond cream and harissa - $9

Roasted Barramundi, Sweet Potato Puree, Lime and Coconut Sauce - $32 

As for the carrots, these were so incredibly delicious. I've only ever had carrots sous vide once and they melted in my mouth like butter. These replicated that feeling. I had initially ordered them purely because I was so fascinated by the almond cream. To me, it tasted similar to the cheese sauce you have on pasta, only fluffier and lighter.

I chose to go with the roasted barramundi, sweet potato puree, lime and coconut sauce. Monty was really feeling the macadamia crumbed chicken schnitzel with raw salad and siracha mayo. I fell in love with this dish after just one bite. When traveling between New Zealand and Australia the thing I love about dining out at Australian restaurants is ordering barramundi. The skin as perfectly crispy and the fish was flaky and delicious. The sweet potato puree was creamy. Overall the dish was so perfect for the winter to feel warm yet still have that fresh balance. 

Macadamia Crumbed Chicken Schnitzel with raw salad and sriracha mayo - $27

Macadamia Crumbed Chicken Schnitzel with raw salad and sriracha mayo - $27

Monty was craving chicken so he ordered the macadamia crumbed chicken schnitzel with raw salad and sriracha mayo. I didn't get to try much of this dish but that's only because Monty wanted the whole thing to himself. He loved the crumb on the chicken and was pleased that although it was chicken schnitzel, it wasn't overly thin like you'd find at the supermarket. 

As for dessert, we were both super full from our meal (which was surprising considering how hungry we were prior) that we decided to share a dessert. I really wanted to try the Chocolate Mousse with Warm Brownie and Nut Bark but Monty loves Tiramisu and wanted to see how Asana's Paleo Tiramisu measured up.

It was a delicious combination of chocolate and coffee and the coconut cream layer at the top made it perfect. 

Paleo Tiramisu - $14

Paleo Tiramisu - $14

 I would definitely return to Asana by Pete Evans in a heart beat and recommend to everyone. I feel like that's what's so great about a place like this. Those with dietary requirements or restrictions aren't limited to their choices yet it's still bound to impress anyone and everyone.  I'm looking forward to my next visit to Brisbane staying at Capri by Fraser as I feel like I'll be making frequent trips downstairs for lunch and/or dinner. 

*advertorial

www.brisbane.capribyfraser.com/asana-by-pete-evans

80 Albert Street 
Brisbane City, Brisbane
 07 3013 0088

You can check out the menu here.

First Impressions - Hatch & Co

During my recent visit to Brisbane I was struggling to find any good eateries serving simple food, done well. I know Brisbane's specialty eateries (such as Primal Pantry, Paleo Cafe, Coco Bliss etc) like the back of my hand however I'm not that knowledgable when it comes to mainstream cafes. I had visited two locations earlier in the week - Sails which was a disaster consisting of well presented food that tasted terrible followed by my unimpressionable visit to Mondo Organics. Both left me disappointed and craving the good food that I knew Brisbane had to offer. 

After searching through hashtags on Instagram on my second to last day in Brisbane I stumbled upon this eatery. This place popped up several times and seemed to be a favourite showcasing beautifully presented food that seemed to be so I knew I had to try it out for myself. 

Hatch & Co has two locations - one in Gasworks Plaza which is where I ate this time and another in Garden City. During the weekend the eatery is open from 8am until late serving meals right throughout the day. Their breakfast menu is a new addition and is only available during the weekends. All other week days the eatery is open from 11.30am. 

I visited Hatch & Co with my manager, Monty, first thing on Saturday morning at around 9am. We were one of only three groups however as the morning progressed many people began to fill the large space. We sat outside and although the weather wasn't the best - it was warm yet the air wasn't thick and would have been beautiful with the sun out. The space itself is very inviting and the aesthetic is gorgeous - I love the contemporary look. 

Hot chocolates are always my little naughty treat so to start of the morning I indulged in one of these while pondering the menu. I had already browsed the menu beforehand online - I do this avoid my indecisiveness - so I already had an idea of what I liked. You can check out their menu here

I'm a big sharer of food and everyone who dines with me should know that. Meals are always shared because sharing is caring and that way I get to photograph and try out more! 

We chose to start with a light refreshing dish which was their season fruit, Greek yoghurt, Tasmanian honey, toasted almonds. This was the most delicious dish ever! Not only were there a variety of fruit but it tasted like a guilt free dessert. I wasn't sure how I felt about the cherries as they had pips which to me was off-putting but otherwise all the other fruit was enjoyable. I loved the Greek yoghurt served on this dish. It didn't have the overwhelming tartness that I find it a lot of those style yoghurts and was thick with a mousse like texture. This would be have been perfect if you're looking for a healthy or fresh option over the summer. It won't weigh you down but will have your belly feeling satisfied. 

 To follow that dish we ordered their spiced baked beans, poached eggs, bacon, roast tomato and grilled sourdough. I would call this their 'big breakfast'. It's definiately for the hungry as we got side plates and still managed to get a decent feed for the both of us. 

Under the baked beans there two pieces of grilled sourdough, each topped with beans and a poached egg. I took one of these along with two streaks of bacon and the roasted tomato. I ended up trading my roasted tomato bacon with Monty in exchange for one of his bacon rashers. I'm not overly fond of tomatoes and it sounded like a fair trade to me. The more bacon the better! 

The eggs were cooked beautifully - the centres were runny and the whites cooked through. I did taste some of the tomato and they were gorgeously sweet. The bacon was perfectly crisp but still held moisture which had me craving more. The beans were very traditional and didn't taste all that spiced however I did enjoy them. They didn't made the sourdough soggy which I liked as I'm not a fan of soggy toast.  

As a first impressions, I really enjoyed this eatery and will definitely be back. Their food was delicious, the service was great, the location was great. Overall it was a really nice experience. I can see this as a meet up location or for brunch with friends or family. I think this is my new favourite go-to place and I can't wait to try out the rest of their food including their lunch/dinner menu! 

1382066259_logo-1.png

www.hatchandco.com.au

Gasworks Plaza
76 Skyring Tce, Newstead
07 3257 2969

You can check out their menu here

Click to add a blog post for Hatch & Co on Zomato

First Impressions - Chuffed

Brunch is easily my favourite meal of the day. I mean, come on - it's two meals combined! When in Auckland and catching up with my beautiful friend, Anastacia, catching up for brunch tends to be the norm. Auckland can at times be daunting with the amount of eateries to choose from so when Anastacia suggested Chuffed I was introduced to a new eatery tucked away on High Street in the city.

Chuffed is refreshingly casual, you almost feel at home with the calm and inviting atmosphere. Although there aren't many staff, quality over quantity is proven by their friendly and positive attitudes on their smiley faces. We popped out the back which was host to a gorgeous al fresco set-up on what seemed like a private deck. It was a chilly, overcast morning however the retractable awning provided shelter from the hovering raining. We were also warmed, sitting close to the large fireplace however there was plenty of other sources of heating scattered along the walls. Despite the menu being filled with a variety of mouthwatering dishes, Anastacia and I being on high fat - low carb guidelines we opted to construct our own meals out of the of selection of sides. 

Anastacia chose to order the Chroizo with Smoked Feta, Hens Egg - Poached and Portabello Mushrooms. This came to a total of $17. As close friends of mine know, sharing is caring when it comes to dining out so I had the pleasure of tasting Anastasia's meal too. This meal looked as if it were constructed by lovers of organic cuisine with each element beautifully showcasing the produce. I could image myself discovering these ingredients at my local farmers market. The Smoked Feta had the most savoury flavour that worked so well paired with the combination of Portobello Mushrooms and Chroizo. The Portobello Mushrooms were copious on the plate adding to earthy style. The Chroizo was slightly spicy and buttery with a true authentic taste. If you're looking for a juicy breakfast sausage, I'd give them a miss. It's definitely a substantial breakfast and perfect for those who are adventurous enough for a modern take on a traditional breakfast. 

For myself, I ordered Beetroot & Honey Cured Salmon, 1/2 Avocado, Crispy Kale (not actually on the menu) and two Hens Eggs - Poached. This came to a total of $19. I also had an Antipodes Sparkling Mineral Water which was $4.5. The slight fizz always reminds me of dining at Milse and indulging in a wee treat. Due to working on upping my green intake, I asked for a side of greens which was not listed on the menu. I was served a side of curly kale which was slightly crispy. I wasn't a huge fan of kale previously until I was served this. I instantly became obsessed with it the second it touched my mouth, finding myself constantly reaching for more. It was tasty already but with a generous sprinkling of salt, it was delicious! I was so excited about their Beetroot & Honey Cured Salmon. I had experienced similar at Cha Cha Char when visiting Brisbane and fell in love. The addition of cured salmon for breakfast just fills me with such joy. As most of you know, sashimi salmon is one of my favourite things of all time so adding it to my breakfast plate is a regular. The avocado was creamy, perfectly ripe and plentiful as opposed to places like Shaky Isles were you'll find yourself with only a couple of slices for the same price point. I was pleased to see my Hens Eggs - Poached resembleing the tight woven balls of bocconcini. If only you had seen the glory moment when I broke open my egg; the yolk oozed out onto the plate. This meal is perfect for those following a Paleo diet or are watching their carb intake. It's full of nutritionally dense super-foods and good fats. If you're not a salmon lover like me, you can swap it out for Handcut Bacon. 

I loved that we could construct these meals ourselves. It can be pretty difficult when following a low carb diet to find a cafe that so happily adapts to your needs. Although we chose what is probably considered the more expensive option, I was happy with the price we paid for the meals and would buy either one again. There are plenty of delicious menu items to chose from with lower price points to chose from too. 

As a first impression, I adore this place and can see myself visiting every time I commute to Auckland. If I'm being completely honest, I was reluctant to share my discovery as it's one of the few places I've come across that nurtures my inner foodie. Each of the dishes we were served at Chuffed was plated with such loving care. They looked so soft and delicate, yet so delicious and hit all the right notes.

Upon my next visit, I'd really like to try their Cardamom Poached Pear featuring Quinoa and Nut Granola, Citrus Yoghurt, Honey and Soft Herbs along with their Hot Chocolate with Almond Milk which is made with Organic Fair Trade Cocoa and served with a House Made Marshmallow. 

I can't wait to revisit and will most likely be working my way through their entire menu so keep an eye out for more blog posts to come. 

 

www.chuffedcoffee.com

43 High Street, Auckland CBD 
09 367 6801

Open 7am - 5pm 
Monday - Friday

You can check out their menu here.

Bird On A Wire - Lunch On The Go

For my second week eating low carb I needed to prepare myself as best I could for my fortnightly commute to Auckland. Whenever I head to Auckland there's an abundance of choices when it comes to food, especially in comparison to the little town I live in. 

Bird On A Wire wasn't on my list when I had pre-planned where I was going to eat out however as I had to call into HQ to get BFP done before my road trip home I cut into lunch-time and had to grab something on the go. 

I popped into their Ponsonby Road store which is gorgeously inviting. They have just recently renovated and I'm loving the modern look. I think I hit the earlier side of lunch time as the place was quiet and settled yet all the chicken looked fresh out of the oven and smelt so delicious. I could've taken an entire bird with me and just nibbled on it over my 5 hour drive home. 

I avoided looking at the tasty treats they had on display including a moreish brownie and The Honest Food Co's protein bars. I opted for the bowls of salad which lined the fridge cabinet edge to edge. I was a little disappointed to not see my favourite quinoa salad on the menu but that gave me opportunity to try something new. Despite having a large selection, my choices seemed limited. 

Whether you choose to eat there or take-away you'll meal will be served your salad in one of these noodle boxes. The sizes vary with a small ($8), medium ($12) and large ($16) and if you'd like to pulled chicken also, it's additional - little ($3), lots ($4), loads ($5)

I went for the small, which is actually really small - the face of the box is no wider, or taller than the width of a credit card. I paired the Asian Slaw with Ponzu dressing with lots of chicken.

Despite the size it was satisfying and fulling. I wasn't overly hungry though and if I were, I'd definitely have to order one of the large sizes.

I was suprised my salad tasted as good as it looked. The yuzu (one of my favourite things) gave the salad such a delicious and intense flavour which had me constantly reaching for more until I was met with the bottom of the box.

I do wish the chicken was a little more shredded and it'd be nice if they could mix it through rather than just lay it on top. It proved to be a little tricky to get a bite full of everything as I suddenly found I had eaten half of my chicken in an attempt to make my way to the salad.

If you're use the more franchised salad bars such as Tank and Habutial Fix, you may be discouraged by the prices in comparison to the sizes. My meal in total was $12 and although I still contemplate whether it was reasonable, I'd buy it again as the elements of providing free-range chicken and great produce makes it worth it.

I look forward to visiting Bird On A Wire again - especially with their new rewards systems they have in place which credits you 1 point for ever $1 you spend. You can then use those points to collect a whole load of rewards from Bird On A Wire! You can get your first 50 points - which entitles you to $5 off your order by joining here.

Oh, and can we just take a second to appreciate the fact that they use Innocent Packaging. These guys are awesome and produce eco-friendly packaging to a whole bunch of places around New Zealand. 

www.birdonawire.co.nz

234 Ponsonby Road
Ponsonby, Auckland
09 378 6369

Open 7 days: 11am - 9.30pm

You can check out their menu here.

Burger Burger - Low Carb Lunch

Burger Burger is one of my favourite casual lunch (and dinner) spots in Auckland. 

I had intended on popping in for lunch on Tuesday however my mid-morning meeting cut well into the afternoon and I ended up dining at quite an unusual hour. 

I had been to Burger Burger before, usually at peak hour but this time I was dining just after 3.30pm. Despite being a table of one, I had the luxury of pretty much sitting wherever I liked as there were only two or three other diners. I chose to sit at end of one of the large tables outside. These tables are a lot nicer with the warmth of the sun hitting your skin. They also provide so much more space to spread out rather than being so restricted which you'll find with the ones inside.

Due to following a ketogenic diet, I opted for low carb and chose two of my favourites; Beef Burger in a Bunnuce with Savannah Grass-fed Beef Patty, Home-made Pickles, Tomato Jam, Mustard, Mayo with extra Cheese, Aged Cheddar and Charred Broccoli, Garlic Butter, Almonds. 

The beef patty is cooked medium-rare by default. I love that Burger Burger do this. You can only serve your patty medium-rare if it's good quality meat that's being used and I have no doubt that their Savannah Grass-fed Beef is top notch. I think you're a fool if you don't add the Aged Cheddar to your Beef Burger too. It's an essential burger ingredient in my books. But the sauce is what will have tempted to buy another burger. Not only is the sauce tasty and flavoursome but through the burger in all the right ways. 

This visit was my first success at actually eating the bunnuce correctly. For some reason, I kept unwrapping it. This might be the obvious thing to do - I clearly didn't think so - but this is how you should be eating it. Rip off the excessive lettuce from the top of your bunnuce and pop it into your bowl. You'll now be able to enjoy each of the elements with every bite. Continue eating and rolling down the wrap until it's reached the last few bites. Take this out of the wrap and add it to your bowl. You'll also have an abundance of dressing that has seeped to the bottom while you were eating it. Eat the leftovers with a knife and fork from your bowl and enjoy!

I've previously ordered Burger Burger takeaway with a friend. We popped down to the eatery one night and bought the order back to The Langham so we could dine in the comfort of our bed. 

We ordered Market Fish Burger in a Bunnuce, Chicken Burger in a Bunnuce and a side of Shoestring Fries with Aioli along with two Lewis Road Creamery thick shakes. The Market Fish bunnuce is to die for and I wish they'd just serve the Panko-crumbed Market Fish with the Caper-Dill Mayo. It was the most delicious thing ever to indulge in while watching plowing through episodes of Revenge.

I can't wait to come back here to have my guilt-free cheat meal. I'll be ordering up those shoe-string fries and downing it with a thick-shake! Oh, and let's add some potato skins in there too just because. 

Burger Burger.png

www.burgerburger.co.nz

The Lane, Ponsonby Central
136 - 138 Ponsonby Road 
Ponsonby, Auckland 
09 360 8030 

You can check out their menu here.

Ostro

Ostro is one of my favourite place to dine out in Auckland. The navy blue and white colour scheme contrasts with the yellow table tops. The tables overlooking the water through glass walls which make for an enchanting view regardless of whether it's day or night. 

Ostro has a very simple menu that's extensive enough to cater to all tastes and levels of hunger. The still and sparkling water served is Antipodes.

On this particular occasion I'm about to document I dined for lunch.

We started with two lots of carbs; potatoes and bread. 

One of the most surprising yet most delicious pairings I've tasted is the Ostro Stecca Bread with seaweed butter. 

The bread was generous, enough to feed four, however I'd happily eat the lot by myself. The texture of the bread was similar to ciabatta but still had a softness similar to sourdough. As for the butter, it was whipped which gave it a velvet smooth finish which was enjoyable. Taste wise, it's incomparable. I don't think I've come across anything like it. It has subtle hints of seaweed and sea salt but in no way was it overbearing. I'd definitely recommend this as a must if you're dining here and haven't tried it before. 

As for the side of fries, these are French Fries, Fresh Herbs. 

Fries are kind of staple when ordering food regardless of where I'm dining. These are nothing special but are shoe string style, lightly sprinkled with herbs. They're a great side to share with whoever you're dining with. 

I shared the Kingfish Crudo from the Raw Bar selection of the menu. 

This dish is a great start with flavours of citrus, ginger, red chilli and coriander. If you can't handle the heat, I'd probably recommend opting for another dish. Those red droplets are fiery and will definitely warm your mouth so make sure you have your water on hand. 

Then there's one of my favourite dishes of all time; Line Caught Tahitian Tuna.

I discovered this dish in the summer and have been in love with it ever since. Paired with garden peas, wasabi mayonnaise, marengo and pea shoots the dish is light, refreshing and damn tasty! 

Both the Kingfish Crudo and the Line Caught Tahitian Tuna have a price point of $18 per dish. I personally think that the Line Caught Tahitian Tuna is a great light meal to be had over lunch or as an appetizer at dinner however I'm not sure I'd order the Kingfish Curdo again unless I was really craving it. 

20140504_123206.jpg

I went with the Roast Canterbury Lamb Rump from the Meat & Poultry section as a main. 

This dish is so succulent and will definitely fill your tum. If you have an appetite and are looking for a roast to satisfy your hunger, this is it. For those of you who know me, you'll know I'm not a lover of mains or anything that has excess amounts of meat as I prefer petite meals full of flavour. but something about this dish just had me reaching for another bite, continuously, until there was no more. The combination of farro, cauliflower, capers, raisins and Pedro Ximenez work so perfectly. I actually didn't even know it had raisins in it - I usually hate them! This meal is perfect for the cooler winter months for those seeking a hearty meal. 

I've dined at Ostro on numerous occasions and they never fail to disappoint. It's definitely a favourite and I'd recommend it to anyone and everyone.

www.ostro.co.nz

Seafarers Building, Level 2
52 Tyler Street, Britomart, Auckland
09 302 9888

You can check out their menu here.

Click to add a blog post for Ostro Brasserie & Bar on Zomato

One Tree Grill

This restaurant is a beacon on the fringe of the Auckland City in Epsom. The menus at One Tree Grill are innovative and take a modern approach on the typical paper menu. The menu is interactive as it is presented on an iPad where you can click and view each item from the menu to preview more information on the dish including a photo of how each dish is presented. 

I'm a multiple entree kinda girl so I went with three entrees; one for starter, one for entree and the other for main along with a cheeseboard for dessert.

To start we were offered complimetary butternut & kumara soup as an appetiser. It was delicious, creamy and warming on the chilly winter evening. We were then offered complimentary warm bread rolls with a side butter.

I started off with the Cured Salmon entree. This was accompanied with black quinoa, fennel, sliced radish, yuzu, wasabi oil and roe.

This dish was a great dish to start with. It was light, refreshing and the flavours were harmonious. The wasabi oil gave it a surprising kick which can be a bit intense for some. If you're a lover of salmon, I'd definitely recommend you try this beauty.

To follow I chose the Tea Scented Wild Boar Fillet entree. This was accompanied with jam on serrano (dry-cured spanish ham), shaved cauliflower, sour cherries, dijon mustard and crackling. 

Having not experienced the taste of wild boar before I enjoyed the experience however if I were to compare the boar with pork, pork would definitely be of preference. I enjoyed the flavour of the sour cherries with the boar as the two flavours complimented one another with the tartness of the cherries and the lightly scented boar. 

For the main, I went with my favourite dish of all time wish is One Tree Grill's Wild Venison Tenderloin entree. This was accompanied by a Valhrona cocoa crumb, liquorice, an elderflower mascarpone, beetroot & cherry puree. 

If you know me well, you'll know venison (when done right) is my absolute favourite red meat. Having such a delicate meat paired with the moreish taste of Valhrona is such a treat. This dish will confuse you to whether you're eating a main or dessert but it sure won't disappoint you - I get this dish every time I visit!

To finish we chose a cheese board with the Delice De Bourgogne served with fig paste and the  Over-The-Moon Galactic Gold served with manuka honey. These two cheeses were accompanied with wafer crackers only as we asked for no bread to be served with the cheese board. 

It is always a bit of a disappointment receiving a cheeseboard when some of the accompaniments are sparse. The fig paste was minimal with two 1 cm square pieces however the manuka honey was adequate. 

The Delice De Bourgogne which is a triple-cream cheese was smooth, velvety and had a melt-on-mouth type texture was and always is a highlight. It's one of the best cheese I've tasted from a cheese board at a restaurant and one I continue to adore and lust over for weeks after. 

Unfortunately I can't say the same for the Over-The-Moon Glactic Gold Cheese which I tried for the first time on this visit. It's very pungent and pretty much tastes like shit. It was pretty off-putting and I definitely won't be trying that cheese again. 

www.onetreegrill.co.nz 

9 - 11 Pah Road
Epsom, Auckland 
09 909 7215

You can check out their menu here