Escape to New Plymouth

Taranaki’s always seemed a bit off the map to me, but snippets of information popping up on the news over recent years have piqued my interest … and the weekend just past I finally got there. It was generally sunny in New Plymouth, a blessing after too much rain of late, and I was impressed by the place. The coastal walkway is superb, the Len Lye wind wand a real talking point. The Govett Brewster a good little gallery, Pukekura Park a great place for a Sunday morning stroll, and the whole city most walkable. Yes, I’d go back. But what about the eating? Which I’d been looking forward to. This was my birthday treat to myself, after all. Brickbats & bouquets there …

… the cheese & onion scone at Bach on Breakwater, 2 stars, but almost $5 for a scone!?

… the Montrose wine bar, 1 ½ stars for being stylish

… Aborio in Puke Ariki, 2 stars for offering me toast for breakfast (& making it sourdough) even though toast wasn’t on the menu, and doing it all with a smile

… 1 star to Lush, for a decent little quiche lorraine, but do improve the layout, it feels like a thoroughfare

… and ½ a star to the café at the Govett Brewster for having a good feel, but poached eggs shouldn’t come nearly hard-boiled!


As for the real disappointments …

… the tea house in Pukekura Park, great potential, but a terribly disappointing date scone; it’s supposed to have dates in it! And those nasty, foil-wrapped butter pats are NOT stylish.

… Salt, the pretentious restaurant in the Waterfront Hotel. Where to start? A Mr Bean-ish maitre d’ who looked lost & not at all in control on a busy Saturday night. Paper napkins. My steak (overcooked) served as one of those silly deconstructed dishes, which look eye-catching but where one cylindrical mound doesn’t link clearly to another; one turned out to be over-dry & starchy … not very good. And as for the crème brulée … I sent it back! Out of the fridge & briefly warmed with a candle flame, if you’re lucky, sprinkled with chopped pistachio nuts … unacceptable. And such a shame. A decent dessert would have saved the meal, had us leaving with smiles on our faces. Instead of feeling quite grumpy about the whole experience. But a lesson re-learned. Avoid hotel restaurants if you want a good meal.


Anyway, next time I’ll know where to go. And where to avoid.


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