With the views and landscapes seen in films such as Lord of the Rings it is no wonder that tourists want to head to New Zealand but does this mean that we can still eat Gluten Free? Thankfully you can find ideas and suggestions here.
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Auckland, North Island View On Map
Last night I needed to take a work colleague out to dinner. He was over from Australia, so we went for a wander round the always picturesque Viaduct Harbour. After peering at a few menus and looking in the windows of various establishments, we settled on the Foodstore, which is a fairly new restaurant sited in a prime corner spot where the old Heineken bar used to be. This restaurant is an offshoot of Food TV and as such not only has the kitchen open and visible to all customers, but has TV screens showing what the chefs are doing as they make your meal!
The first thing about the menu is the labeling. I was delighted to see one symbol for gluten-free, another for dairy free and a third for light meals. The next thing was that the selection available for those of us who are gluten-free was excellent - 8 of the 17 dishes on offer. All the dishes could be ordered in either a starter or main size, and my dinner companion and I decided to go with the traditional starter-main-dessert offering. First up was the choice of drinks though, and hallelujah! Scotts Gluten Free Beer was on the drinks menu! For the first time in 9 months, I started my meal with a beer.
My meal consisted of Pan-fried duck salad with smoked eggplant puree and buffalo yoghurt followed by Venison loin with pecorino polenta, caramelised onions and beetroot and finishing up with Classic Kiwi Pavlova with fresh fruit, passionfruit curd and vanilla yoghurt. The flavours were extraordinary and unusual; everything was fresh; the food was beautifully presented on funky serving dishes and clearly a lot of thought has gone into the menu choices.
So I'd give The Foodstore full marks for catering for gluten-free eaters and for providing an unusual and stimulating dining experience without sacrificing the quality of the food or service. Check out their website for their full seasonal menu and a whole lot of interesting information about their food sources and chefs.
I also ordered a chocolate brulee which they said was gluten free and when it was delivered to our room, it had 2 beautiful (and huge) pieces of biscotti on the plate. There were also complimentary chocolates with our meals. I asked the room service waiter if the chocolates and the biscotti were gluten free but he didn't know. I said not to worry about the biscotti as Haitch would have them with his dessert but could he please find out about the chocolates. About fifteen minutes later, there was a knock on the door and the waiter arrived back with special gluten free chocolates just for me as the complimentary ones werent gluten free. I guess I was a little surprised at the biscotti and the non gluten free chocolates being delivered to us without the waiter being told whether they were gluten free or not. But at the end of the day, it is up to us to be vigilant.
nd the breakfast? The Langham have a special gluten free area with cereal, pastries, muffins, chocolate brownies and bread with our very own gluten free toaster. Marvelous!
Big thumbs up to the Auckland Langham hotel but stay vigilant of course, as I'm sure you always do.
So we had a wee drive around the Birkenhead area and found Eight Two at 82 Hinemoa St. Wow! They even have their own restaurant baked gluten free bread so that I could partake in the bread and dips with Haitch. How amazing is that! The market fish (hapuku) with chili, lemon, pistachio and tomato on red quinoa, was cooked so beautifully and tasted delicious.
And when it came time for dessert, the waitress even pointed out the gluten free options without me having to ask. Something I get sick of in restaurants, having to remind the wait staff that I need to know which are the gluten free dessert options. Eight Two didn't need reminding and after pointing out the gluten free options, I asked if it was possible to have one of the other desserts (coffee trio) which they offered to make gluten free for me.
Fantastic evening. Great meal at a great restaurant where I was treated with respect and a great movie. What more could I want.
I felt fairly confident that there would be something on the menu for me to eat and I was right. The wait staff were very helpful and didn't make me feel a nuisance when I asked about gluten free options. I chose a beautifully cooked free range chicken, marinated and roasted in red wine with Paris mushrooms and potato pur ée.
I also had a choice of two desserts and had the most beautiful bitter chocolate macaron (their spelling) and candied banana served with milk chocolate cream and wattle seed ice cream. I'm not usually that keen on ice cream but oh... this home made wattle seed ice cream was heaven. I wasn't that sure about the candied bananas either, but oh... they were also heaven. And then the macaron! Well, what can I say. I would definitely go back, even if it was just for the dessert.
The restaurant has a great atmosphere, the wait staff are friendly, the food is deliciously cooked and the view out over the viaduct is beautiful.
Lots and lots of fresh salads with soup and frittata and light meals and lots of gluten free options all clearly marked with a G. I had frittata and chickpea salad.
Lone Star is a cowboy themed pub type restaurant, though it is quite a lot more expensive than your basic pub. It is dimly lit with pictures all over the walls.
There was only one gluten free item labeled on the menu (also dairy free), the honky tonk chicken (chicken breast marinated in Dijon mustard, dill, honey & lime juice, pan baked and topped with a cranberry salsa, served with buffalo chips and Lone Star coleslaw). I actually decided I really liked the sound of this dish and therefore ordered it (rather than finding out what other options could be made gluten free).
Luckily another friend of mine warned me before I went to order the entree size meal as that is all I would need, and I am glad I did. It was the perfect amount for a meal.
The gluten free options are all dishes that aren't served in flour tortillas. I therefore decided to have the chicken nachos with all of the toppings (you pay an extra $1 to have guacamole however you can have as much spicy or mild salsa as you would like from the self serve area) and a bottomless soda (I was thirsty from walking around the shops all morning!).
The nachos were delicious. I often find at these places that you get a heap of chips and not many toppings but this wasn't the case. It was a huge meal and highly satisfying.
I enjoyed my meal so much that I went to Mexicali Fresh for dinner another day while I was in Auckland and once again ordered the chicken nachos.
We went to Mikano in Auckland. This restaurant has huge picture windows and is right beside the police and rescue helicopter base and looks out over the harbour, so it always adds an extra interest to the meal seeing the helicopters coming and going and people fishing from the rocks.
After asking about gluten free options, the very nice wait staff told me that I could mix and match any of the meals to make a gluten free meal of my choice. The pan fried chicken looked great but it had a Tuscan bread salad with it, so I asked if I could have the chicken with kumara puree (which was from a roast duck meal) and broccoli topped with almonds, pancetta and Parmesan cheese (which was from a side dish). That was exactly what I got and it was delicious! And so was my pavlova roulade with mango.
Thank you Mikado for being so accommodating and having such great food.
V and A Cafe
The food is all cooked using fresh ingredients and the flavours are exquisite. My favourite is always the "breast of chicken pan roasted with mushrooms, garlic, chilli, cream & topped with parmesan and avocado". I try to order something different each time I go in but this one usually seduces me as soon as I pick up the menu. Husband, Haitch has tried almost everything on the menu but is usually seen with the "rack of lamb roasted with herbs and garlic, served with a classic port and red currant Jus" on his plate.
Bolero Tapas Bar
This summer holiday is the first time we have been there since being gluten free but I wasn't concerned because I know they make everything on the premises and nothing comes from a jar. But I decided to call in the day before and no problems, there were a number of dishes on the menu that were gluten free.
The next night when we were seated, they handed us the menus and I was given a special one. It was the same menu as the others but the chef had gone to the trouble of ticking all of the options that were gluten free especially for me. I was so impressed and felt special for once in a restaurant instead of a nuisance.
We all had three delicious courses and we were so delightfully full afterwards. I would highly recommend this restaurant (and the Lodge if you needed somewhere to stay) if you are ever in the far north of New Zealand. The golf course is an excellent course if you want to take the time to play and enjoy the views.