07 July 2011

Review: Squids Bar and Restaurant

On the penultimate day of my travel I decided to treat myself to a proper good meal. For 6 days I've existed on Subway sandwiches and hastily cooked pasta meals in hostel kitchens, so enough is enough!

My phone's Ovi Maps GPS application has a Trip Advisor utility that combines tourism reviews with the address, so it can suggest and show me nearby places. Under restaurants it recommended Salt as the #1 place to eat, based on user ratings. So I eagerly made my way there:

I stood near the entrance and inspected the menu posted. No one came to ask me if I wanted a table, so I just walked in and plopped down at a table in the al fresco area overseeing the marina. It could have been a pretty peaceful sight if not for the 5 or 6 kids playing roughly while their parents socialize, uninterrupted by the ruckus.

But the thing that broke the camel's back was being ignored. Passing waiters did not bother to hand me a menu or serve. After 5 minutes I got up and just walked out. I instead dined at the eatery across Salt - Squids Bar and Restaurant. What a great choice!

Continue reading my review of Squids after the jump.

I was the first customer of the evening so was given prompt service and explanation of the day's specials. Price wise it was similar to Salt but friendly service makes everything taste better, no?

Mata Manuka beer ($7.50)
A NZ-handcrafted beer with a light hint of manuka honey.

Smoked Seafood Platter ($16)
A selection of local seafood smoked by the Coromandel Smoking Co., a well-respected establishment. There's tuna, salmon, kingfish, mussels, and another fish I can't recall the name of. It's really fresh, juicy, and flavourful - without any off-putting fishy smells. It's accompanied by mesclun salad, warm bread, and in-house smoked fish pate. A great start to my meal with distinctly New Zealand flavours!

Vegetable and Polenta Stack ($17)
My main was equally good. I picked this because this vegetarian dish was the cheapest main in the menu, but I have no regrets. If all vegetarian food tasted so good, I'd be vegetarian anytime. It's a parmesan polenta with grilled seasonal vegetables, warm mesclun, pine nuts, and sundried potato pesto. Everything was cooked perfectly with the right textures and bursting with flavours!

Pavlova is highly regarded as the 'national dessert' of New Zealand. This was my first... and probably my last. Paying $10 for what is essentially fresh cream in a light crust is just a bit overdoing it. But as required of all desserts, it's cloyingly sweet and guilt-inducing. Easily the most disappointing part of dinner for me, though it's more to do with my expectations and not the quality of the pavlova.

All points considered, it's a great place to dine if you're in Whitianga!


Matthew William said...

I love this place New Orleans Bar and Grill. It's all around amazing.  

Helena Sheila said...

But I'm sure most people care about the customer service. I think here in Finland where the people are quite cold, someone actually friendly and nice would bring joy to our lifes. So I don't care about it but bad customer service is generally a big no-no.