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THANK YOU AND GOODBYE. FOR NOW.

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Coco’s Cantina, by David Straight

Six and a bit years ago, we started a website to review restaurants like we thought they should be reviewed. We started with Ella Cafe, which later turned into Orphans Kitchen – which we reviewed too – and carried on. We got David Straight – now one of the country’s best young architectural photographers – to take photos and we reviewed back-alley dumpling bars in the same way as fine diners and we ran supper clubs in houses, art galleries and restaurants.

It’s been a huge amount of fun and we think we’ve had something valuable to say. Now, the various contributors of EHN have gone on to many other projects, and it’s time for a break. We’ll be back one day: see you then. SFG

EHN x THE OYSTER INN – SOLD OUT

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Not so long ago, Andrew and Jonathan at The Oyster Inn rang up to see if we’d like to have an oyster party at their lovely restaurant in Oneroa. Naturally, we said yes, and then the idea evolved into an oyster degustation.

On October 13, we’ll be holding a multi-course feast which celebrates the wonderful bivalves from Waiheke’s own Te Matuku Oysters, with local wines from Tantalus – and one course is matched with, what else, an oyster stout.  There are oysters natural and cooked and even smoked, and even a beef and oyster pie. It’s going to be a very exciting event.

Do come and join us, it’s sure to be a wonderful night. Tickets are $110 and available on PayPal below.

6.30pm, October 13, 2016
The Oyster Inn
124 Oceanview Rd, Oneroa, Waiheke




EHN x SAAN

EHN x SAAN

We’re very happy. When Saan opened last year, serving its mixture of Lanna and Northern Thai dishes, we were very excited: this is some of the best Thai food in town, at once sour and tangy and fermented. Their sai ua is a thing of beauty.

Now, you can join us at Saan for a very special one-off menu in their very beautiful private dining room. The meal starts with a Chiang Rai spicy soup and takes in somtum and pork ribs, fermented pork and sausage, and poached Cloudy Bay clams. There’s a chargrilled whole fish and chargrilled lemongrass chicken and – of course – loads of sticky rice and condiments.

Tickets are $110 and include wine matching. Tickets are – as always – incredibly limited.

JIMMY THE COOK

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We weren’t very happy when Jimmy “the Fish” Gerard shut up shop in Ponsonby late last year: his Lion Red beer batter and gruff demeanour were the perfect antidote to Ponsonby Central’s hipster surrounds. So we rejoiced when he popped up in the back corner of the Grey Lynn Returned Services Club. There are families with kids, guys playing pool, men in high-vis.

He still does seafood, thank goodness: tarakihi when it’s fresh, pan-fried with caper butter and served with chips and a really good iceberg lettuce salad ($18) or in his aforementioned Lion Red beer batter ($15 adults, $10 kids). His fish pie, which is his mum’s recipe (the secret ingredient is – yes – tinned asparagus) you can dine in on for a tenner, or take home to heat yourself. Recently – and this isn’t said lightly – we ate just about the best gnocchi we’ve ever tasted: pan fried with a crisp edge but all softly-softly on the inside, with a browned sage butter and punctuated with salty, perfect prosciutto. It was $10. We also loved his polenta chips with mayo and salsa ($5) and his crayfish bisque ($5) – “It’s a soup,” says the blackboard menu.

It’s a rotating menu of whatever is good and available. Sometimes for pudding he’ll put on creme caramel; the other day we had beef cheek ragu with mash and broccoli ($18), and it was perfectly, meltingly, falling apart and rich, on mash that tasted homemade. One punter was taking his ragout home in plastic containers: when he asked for his broccoli, Jimmy handed him half a head raw. He was busy. DM

HOURS Dinner, Wednesday to Saturday.

ADDRESS Grey Lynn RSC, 1 Francis Street, Grey Lynn.

IMPORTANT DETAILS Cash only – though the bar will let you withdraw some. Also: it’s just Jimmy cooking, sometimes with a helper, so it can take a while.

 

KISS KISS

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Photographs: David Straight

Sometimes, you want something a bit better than fluorescent lights and Chinese gameshows. So let us rejoice in the third restaurant opening of Jasper and Ludo Maignot and Celeste Thornley (L’Oeuf & Chinoiserie), northern-Thai all-dayer Kiss Kiss. There are communal wooden tables, pastel mosaics, indoor palms and kitschy parasols; the cocktail menu is a Viewmaster.

The food is good: northern-style Thai, so it’s sour and tangy. It’s also fun and cheap. By day, there’s muesli with rose-kissed yoghurt ($13.50) served with lemongrass-stewed apple, and there’s a fragrant Scotch egg ($19), redolent with kaffir lime and served with sour pickled cabbage and pumpkin puree – bloody delicious. The fish cakes ($19) are served with srihacha hollandaise – though we struggled to find the fish on one visit. And we loved an intriguing crispy rice salad ($18.90) served with pork sausage and herbs.

At night there are sensational ribs ($16) with Jaew sauce (a warming dry chilli), a side dish that could contend with any main. There’s also a serviceable Pad Thai, obviously, and a whole deep-fried snapper ($21.50) with a tamarind-garlic-chilli sauce, at once sweet and tangy and sour. The pork belly curry ($16) is good – though not the best we’ve had, a bit off balance. But the sai oua ($16) – northern-style sausage, the litmus test of any northern Thai restaurant – is superbly fragrant, served with a blistering naan phrik num.

Our only gripe? The service can be a little haphazard: in particular, they have a till system that saw one of our reviewers wait 15 minutes to pay. But that was in its opening weeks and it’s easy to like Kiss Kiss – expect to see more joints like this. KR & SFG

HOURS Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Sunday.

ADDRESS 1 Rocklands Ave, Balmoral, ph 600-3076. No website but here is the Facebook page.

IMPORTANT DETAILS No bookings. Get in early or go late.