Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Shed 5, formerly Deus Ex Machina *CLOSED*

Although I'd been told about Shed Five and read about it on other blogs, I still had to walk past several times before plucking up the courage to venture into the upper carpark area leading to this hidden cafe combined with motorcycle workshop and retail area.  I'm glad I did—the stylish gallery was a world away from what the shed's exterior promised, and I enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere while keenly conscious of how little I knew about motorcycles.

Shed Five is sleekly decorated with motorcycle paraphernalia
Their menu is not huge, but the few things I've tried from it have been delicious.  In fact, the corn fritters I had on my first visit back in April were the best I've had in Auckland, with lots of fresh corn kernels and not much batter.  I ordered the last plate they had that day, and had to persuade the waiter not to take it away when it arrived with strips of bacon that I had requested be left out.  Not only did it mean I could taste this delicious dish, but I was offered a free coffee in compensation.  Unfortunately, the corn fritters are not available anymore, but hopefully they will be back on the menu once it's sweetcorn season again!

Corn fritters with lots of deliciously grilled whole kernels
I have to say I find the pricing of the food somewhat strange.  While the Open Haloumi Sandwich was decent at $12, and tasty and filling at that, the Tomatoes on Toast now cost $18 and didn't come with much other than, well, whole vine tomatoes and toast (okay, there were some basil leaves and a little bit of feta, but still...). I know tomatoes are expensive these days, but surely so is haloumi?  The Mushies on Toast were equally pricy and liable to one feeling somewhat unsatisfied, with four small portabello mushrooms (and a sprinkling of mozzarella and parsley) spread over two pieces of bread (kumara bread, I believe) for $16.

Open Haloumi Sandwich, with rocket, grilled capsicum and freshly made hummus
The mushies on toast seemed a bit pricy for the amount of food you got
Recently, they've brought in a pie warmer and drinks cabinet, which I am not entirely sure I approve of.  The shelves block your view of the wall menu, for one thing, and they just make the place feel that much more like a takeaway joint and less like a nice relaxing cafe.

Still, there are at least some good meals to be had, and I also love the fact that you can order fresh juices here.  It's definitely worth it to visit Shed Five on occasion, especially if you're a motorhead, but even if you're not.

Panda Recommends

Mains:  Corn fritters, if available ($14);  Haloumi Open Sandwich ($12)
Drinks: Beetroot and Apple Juice ($7)

Vegie Pandas
As above, though you will need to ask for the corn fritters without the bacon.

Note: the menu below is out of date, with some items now costing a couple of dollars more.  They've also brought in some cabinet food, including Pork and Apple Cider Pie, Pain au Chocolat and Almond Croissants.

[Added 5 November 2011:
Just checked out Shed Five again, and they have cut back on their already small menu!  There doesn't seem to be much on offer now other than scrambled eggs, quinoa salad and cabinet pies.  Not sure I'd really turn up for food, though if you're after juice or coffee, you might want to keep this place on your radar.

[Added 5 May 2012:
After being closed for some time, this cafe is open again!  Unfortunately, not even scrambled eggs to be had now.  And they seem to have premade the juice.  The salads are pretty expensive at $18.  Those croissants and pies had better be good...

[Added 17 June 2012:
You can order a small selection of hot food again, involving breakfasty bacon items or pea and ham soup, as well as the aforementioned pies and salads.  I bought a tasty almond croissant which apparently comes from Philippe's, but the server also suggested I could find a better almond croissant at Pandoro on Queen Street.

Menu - June 2011

Restaurant Details

Shed Five
Shed 5, Upper Deck, City Works Depot, 90 Wellesley Street West, Auckland
(09) 304 1044

Opening hours:
Mondays to Fridays 7am to 5pm
Saturdays and Sundays 8am - 3pm

From the entrance, you would never have thought there would be a cafe through here

[Added 17 June 2012:
The cafe is easier to find now that they have removed the surrounding shrubbery and painted their logo on the door.

Shed Five cafe entrance.

View Nom Nom Panda in a larger map

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fashionable Fried Foods

I eat far too many chips, glorious hot chips.  Also known as fries, they are one of those delights I can't (or refuse to) make at home. I don't want to indulge myself too often, and well, deep frying just gets messy, quite frankly.  I mean, what are you supposed to do with all that spent oil? Much better to leave it as someone else's problem, I say.

You can get a whole raft of other fried delicacies at restaurants these days too. The deep-fried icecream balls I enjoyed at as a child in the older (Westernised) Chinese restaurants don't seem to be around much anymore, but I keep getting excited about something new, only to find that it's suddenly available in multiple places.  Is this simply because I start paying more attention to the existence of this novelty, or do fried foods come in fads?

It's still possible to order deep fried ice cream at Sam Woo Vietnamese Cafe in Otahuhu, among other places
Jazzed up Potato Chips

Ever since Burgerfuel brought chips with aioli into the mainstream, it doesn't seem quite right anymore to eat them simply on their own.  Other places make their chips more interesting by covering them in beer batter or seasoning, but I'm fnding that you can buy them in all shapes and sizes too.

If you argue over whether thick or thin chips are better, what about the ones which are rectangular in cross section, short on one side and longer on the other?  I've had super-chunky chips at Finc in Wellington, measuring maybe 3cm on two sides and deliciously crispy and golden; our capital also offers fried potato in cubes, as in the Wagyu Fat Potatoes with Habanero Mayonnaise available at Logan Brown.

You can choose between fatties or skinnies chips (as well as wedges) at Velvet Burger
Then there are the chips you would need special implements to cut, like curly fries and crisscut fries. I've only seen these sold in seasoned and battered form.

Curly fries at Vinyl Coffee Shop
Crisscut fries at Carl's Jr. in Takanini
Of course, wedges are made of deep-fried potato too.  For some reason, we never call them "chips", maybe because most places will serve both at the same time.

Wedges served with bacon, cheese and sour cream

I won't go into the various ways you can serve chips, though I have to say that I was surprised to see a "French Fries Sandwich" on offer at Holy Land, a new restaurant (347 Karangahape Road) for Arabic and Western cuisine. From the picture on the menu, it looked like a pita pocket filled with chips.

Exotic Chips

Remember when kumara chips were exciting and new? They never seem to attain the same level of crunchiness that chips made from potato do, but I am often tempted to order them just for variety.  I've already shared my non-potato chip discoveries in previous posts, involving pumpkin chips coated in salty egg yolk at Fung, and polenta chips at Coco's Cantina (I also saw some polenta chips for sale at La Zeppa and 1885, but never got around to trying them and they don't seem to be on the menu anymore).

Pumpkin chips coated in salty egg yolk from Fung

Today, I came across a little mobile vendor selling "South American Street Food" on Queen's Wharf.  Top of the list on Maldito Mendez Cantina Latina's menu was "mandioca chips with smoked garlic aioli", which on further questioning are made from cassava.  They tasted good, but were relatively dry and hard compared to potato chips.  I'm keen to try the cassava chips at Bellota too.

Cassava (a.k.a. mandioca or yuca) chips with smoked garlic aioli from Maldito Mendez


My first experience of churros in Auckland was at the Teed St Larder in Newmarket. Unlike the straight dough sticks I had dipped into hot chocolate in Spain, the ones at the Larder were twisted into a knot.  They were reheated rather than freshly made, but still managed to remain crispy and ready for dipping into chocolate sauce or dulce de leche.

Churros from the Teed St Larder
Beautifully delicate churros can be had at Serafin, and they even added a bit of alcohol to our chocolate the last couple of times we were there.

Fortunately, you can also have churros without going to a cafe or restaurant.  Toro Churro sells these delicious sticks from mobile carts, which can be found by AUT on weekdays, as well as at various places like the Auckland Night Market at Pakuranga at other times. They even have caramel-filled ones!

Churros from Toro Churro


Recently, I came across beignets (pronounced "ben-YAY"), which basically seem to be doughnut balls.  I've seen the term applied to both sweet and savoury ones, shaped as big spheres or little pillows, but for me, the definition of beignets will always be the sweet morsels I first sampled at Sweet Mother's Kitchen.

Delicious beignets from Sweet Mother's Kitchen,Wellington
Corn beignets from Okra in Kingsland
Beignets with passionfruit curd, only available for breakfast at Depot, opposite the Auckland Sky Tower
Just the other day, a friend told me about deep-fried poached eggs, coated in breadcrumbs.  I'd hardly say that it is a dish sweeping through restaurants around Auckland, but it does sound worth a try.  What other new offerings have you come across, and did you suddenly start noticing it at other restaurants?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: Clare Inn Irish Pub

I've written a lot of reviews about eateries on Dominion Road.  Yes, it is close to where I live, but mostly it's because there are a lot of truly great places to eat there, seemingly more than in other areas.  Yesterday, we had a late lunch once again at our local Clare Inn Irish Pub.  It can have dusty cutlery, and loud music on certain nights, but its consistently delicious mains were such a contrast from our previous night's mediocre experience only a stone's throw away in Kingsland that I just have to write about it.

We've walked past this pub many times before.  However, not being great drinkers, it took a positive review in a newspaper before I could convince anyone to eat there with me.  We were not disappointed.  The interior furnishings and service at the Clare Inn is exactly what you would expect in any pub, but the main dishes we have tried have always exceeded our expectations: absolutely delicious, well presented and also very reasonably priced.

The offerings include familiar favourites, such as a Sunday Roast Special or a Mushroom and Blue Cheese Risotto.  These are what you might make at home, but are well executed and beautifully decorated with fresh herbs or a similar garnish.

Chef's Special: Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and all the Trimmings
Mushroom Risotto with Spinach, Blue Cheese and Parmesan
Then there are more exotic dishes, such as the Slow Roast Duck with Pickled Beetroot, Courgette & Parsnip Fritter and Blood Orange Marmalata.  The friend who ordered this was literally bouncing up and down with excitement after having a bite.

Slow Roast Duck with Pickled Beetroot, Courgette & Parsnip Fritter with Blood Orange Marmalata
Even the dishes which sound somewhat strange manage to taste surprisingly good.  We were unsure about the "smoked salmon wontons" served with the Fish of the Day, but they went well with the panfried blue warehou and the blue cheese coleslaw.

Fish of the Day: Panfried Blue Warehou with Hot Smoked Salmon Wontons and Blue Cheese and Fennel Coleslaw
After these beautiful choices have put you into a happy humour, stop eating.  The desserts may sound tempting, and they certainly aren't bad, but they are nowhere near the standard of the mains.  Your waistline will thank you for it, and there's only one tea (a strong Irish Breakfast) you could have had with your pudding anyway.

Panda Recommends

Mains: Chef's Special: Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and all the Trimmings ($19), Fish of the Day: Panfried Blue Warehou with Hot Smoked Salmon Wontons and Blue Cheese and Fennel Coleslaw ($26), Slow Roast Duck with Pickled Beetroot, Courgette & Parsnip Fritter with Blood Orange Marmalata ($27.50), Eye Fillet Roasted with Two Mushroom Ragout, Garlic and Parsley Champ & Truffle Oil ($33.50)

Vegie Pandas
Not a great variety of options for you here.  The modified Pasta of the Day: Mushroom Risotto with Spinach, Blue Cheese and Parmesan ($16.50) was excellent though.

Main Menu

Bar Snacks Menu
Restaurant Details

Clare Inn Irish Pub
274 - 278 Dominion Road, Mount Eden, Auckland
(09) 623 8233

Opening hours:
Mondays to Saturdays 11am - late (officially 2am, but could close earlier)
Sundays 12pm - late

View Nom Nom Panda in a larger map
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...