Restaurants and bars in my hometown of Tauranga are a very mixed bunch. Some seem to adopt the “I’ve seen an Eye Fillet on the menu in an Auckland restaurant for $40 so I think I’ll give that a crack” approach, then fall far short of serving a steak that’s worth pawning your first-born off for. Others charge like the proverbial wounded bull for a simple, yet underwhelming, feed of Captain Standard-type offerings then are at a loss when paying customers flock elsewhere. The following locales buck this trend and deserve a good ol’ shout out:
1. Grindz Café, 1st Ave
They do some of the best coffee in the 07 area code. They’ve been awarded Best Café in BOP (I can’t remember who by…) for the last couple of years and for good reason. Grindz has great food, it’s chilled-out (unless you’re upstairs within earshot of the Sunday morning collective known as “lots of kids banging toys in an adjoining room”) and has awesome service. Not much else to say really – check it out.
2. Soho, The Strand
This place was recommended by a friend who stated simply “best food in Tauranga”. Over the festive season I put it to the ultimate test… the return visit. And, second time around, Soho failed to disappoint! I went with the eye fillet and found myself slicing through a piece of medium-rare heaven with… a butter knife. Well… a table knife, but you get the picture. Accompanied by some of the freshest veges ever to see light of day and an awesome Shiraz, to say I was content would be like saying Michelangelo was “content” with his interior decorating efforts in the Sistine Chapel. I was floating on a gastronomical cloud. Soho do the simple things very well and prove that freshness (apparently they use teir own organically-grown vegetables) does make a huge difference.
3. Syndicate, The Strand
This one is a bit of a punt. Formally the space/hole/area occupied by Coyote’s, this place has been revamped, mopped, disinfected (a squillion times) and reborn as Syndicate Bar & Bistro. On a busy Sunday afternoon we took a gamble and sat down for lunch. I’m unsure whether it was my low expectations of the huge amount of delicious food that ended up in front of me but, so far, the owners are onto a good thing. I ordered the Spicy Sausage Pasta (Penne) and I swear it came out with one (maybe two) WHOLE chorizo sausages sliced up. Awesome. Their beer is cold, the staff are friendly and the food is reasonably priced, big on taste AND big on portion size.