Archive for the ‘Cafes & Restaurants’ Category

To celebrate Stephen’s birthday we dined at Tutto Bene in Merivale, somewhere we hadn’t been before.  Our usual Italian restaurant of choice is Venuti, but we thought we’d try somewhere different, and Tutto Bene definitely has that genuine Italian flavour.  They have some parking available behind the restaurant, but that was full, and we were pleased to find a spot on Mansfield Avenue.

Stephen enjoying Veal Parmigiana

We sat outside in their leafy courtyard, at a good-sized table.  So often a table for two is small and cramped, but not here.  We shared a dish of olives, then Stephen had Veal Parmigiana and I had fresh groper served on a cauliflower puree.  Both meals were delicious.  By coincidence a group of us had been discussing the fate of bobby calves the previous evening, and remarked that you don’t see veal for sale these days.  Perhaps it all goes to restaurants?  Stephen couldn’t quite finish his generous portion, but still managed to share some of my decadent chocolate cake dessert.  I had a bottle of limonata, which I’d last enjoyed in Rome.  The staff were pleasant and friendly and we appreciated the fact that there were several small children dining with their families.  A group at a table near us  were also celebrating a birthday, and as their cake was delivered the staff joined with them to sing “Happy Birthday” – a extra bonus for Stephen.

After we’d finished we left through the back entrance which borders onto the St Albans Stream, and found the restaurant manager feeding the local ducks.  There were also healthy eels in the stream and a friendly cat on the bridge.  All in all, a most enjoyable evening.  Many thanks to the distant daughter who shouted this birthday treat.

Stream behind Tutto Bene

We recommend this restaurant
when it’s a special meal you want.




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A new cafe in the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church has been open for a few weeks now, but not completely.  Their name Pillars Cafe is written on the front window.  Pillars is appropriate as the pillars from the porch of the old church are displayed there, but for me the name immediately evokes an organisation that supports the families of prisoners.

We stopped by for morning tea and were the only customers at 10.30am on Wednesday morning.  The only food options were a herb scone and two kinds of slices.  The friendly young manager told us they are only ‘softly’ open and are awaiting delivery of their food cabinet.  Once this arrives they will have a wider selection of food, and may eventually offer light meals.

The outside tables were welcoming on such a warm day, and there was a good deal of passing foot traffic.  Presumably they will do more promotion once they are fully open.

‘Another cafe in the ‘hood
will have to work hard to make good.’

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We lunched on homemade pies from Penelope’s.  Stephen had a spicy Mexican, while I had chicken and leek, which also contained mushroom.  They were good, served with chilli sauce and garnish.  At $6.90 each this was a cheap lunch.  We were given water, and able to sit outside in New Regent Street and watch passing tourists and trams.

‘A cheap and tasty lunching option
I recommend it for adoption.’

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The new Hoyts cinema in the centre of town was busy.  It’s just opposite the Bus Interchange, and school holidays are the ideal time for families to check it out.  They don’t advertise showing times in the newspaper any more.  You have to go to the website to find out what’s on and when.

Hoyts from outside

There’s an escalator to take you up to the first floor where the cinemas are, and also all the snacks you might want to buy.   You help yourself, then go round the corner to pay at a cash desk.  There were a couple of staff members who presumably keep an eye open to make sure people pay.

The escalator down is only for those who’ve been in the cinemas.  Those who’ve just been looking (like us) have to take the stairs.  There’s a good range of options for meals on the ground floor.  We went to Joe’s Garage, which has a sunny spot right on the corner.

Joe’s Garage at Hoyts

I had a hot chocolate and a cheese and spinach scone.  The scone was a little doughy and too big for me, but prices were reasonable.  The place was busy, but the staff were friendly and efficient.  I’m unlikely to watch a movie at Hoyts, as I prefer Alice’s or Hollywood Cinema, which are locally owned.  However it’s good to have another attraction in the central city.

‘I’m sure that crowds will gladly flock
to this newcomer on the block.’

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Christine and I walked part of the Te Ara Otakaro River Trail enjoying the spring growth.   We turned off at Stanmore Road, in search of hot drinks and were pleased to discover Ruedi’s Cafe.   This place was once Ma and Pa’s Bakery, and I hadn’t visited its new incarnation.   There was a good offering of cabinet food, and they also do cooked breakfasts.  The staff were friendly and helpful, and there are outside tables for sunny days.  We admired the creative coffee sign on the board above their name:

This is a cafe worth knowing about, and a good destination for a walk.

‘A good place for suburban foodies
in Stanmore Road you might try Ruedi’s.’

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Today I borrowed a library book and ordered a hot chocolate, all in te reo.  I was impressed to find that the library system had adopted te reo (Maori language) for the week.  The first sight of the screen was slightly daunting, but I managed to muddle my way through.

Library computer screen

I’d got to the stage of paying the fee for my ‘held’ book before I thought to take a picture.  This screen indicates that I needed to pay a fee ( nama debt, whaina forfeit) of $3 and that my total balance now was $7.40.  I’m not sure what the sentence underneath (utunga expenses incurred, iti small, rawa best) ending in 10 cents indicates – a minimum payment?

I was pleased that I managed to pay and get the docket that tells when my book is due, which was printed in te reo.  Afterwards I realised a librarian had been keeping an eye on my progress, and she told me there was an icon at the bottom left of the screen with an option to change to English.  (How often have I been told ‘Read the screen!’ ?).

In the library cafe I was confronted by a mat informing me that if I ordered my coffee in te Reo I would get a small prize.

Coffee order in te reo

I had no difficulty asking for he tiakerete wera maku, and my prize turned out to be a mini chocolate fish.

It’s been great to see how common te reo has been this week.  Even the ‘Press’ has changed its masthead to Te Matatika, meaning to be honest, fair, impartial, and unbiased.  It remains to be seen how much of this other official language of New Zealand carries on once Maori Language Week is over.

‘This special Aotearoa tongue
deserves to have its praises sung.’

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Looking for a cafe in central Manchester Street we found one called ‘Great Coffee Fast‘.  We were keen to support a business in this area because they’ve had such a struggle with roadworks while Manchester Street was being transformed into a wide tree-lined boulevard.

Great Coffee Fast

The staff person asked whether we’d like our drinks in takeaway cups, and I said ‘definitely not’.  We were surprised when Stephen’s coffee arrived in a ceramic tumbler.  The woman assured us that this is the correct shape for serving an Americano coffee, but Stephen wanted a cup with a handle, so she took it away and poured it into an ordinary cup.  I’ve asked Aunty Google and she doesn’t seem to have heard of serving Americano coffee in tumblers.  Have you?

It was good to sit outside in the sun, but there were almost no pedestrians.  This area needs a lot more people to give it vibrancy.  Stephen wasn’t impressed with the quality of the coffee either, so we probably won’t go there again.

‘Another time we will walk past
and not stop at Great Coffee Fast.’


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