The term fusion is not exactly common language anymore in New Zealand for restaurant styles, but in the case of the Herne Bay Local Eatery, its inclusion is a fabulous surprise!
Herne Bay Local Eatery and Bar mixes a rather unlikely pairing of traditional pub looks, well supported by the quaint yet garish wooden trimmed walls (with sunken TV = shock horror) and a fresh high quality food and drinks selection.
A scan of the joint revealed a virtually full house at 8pm on a Wednesday, with the local eatery competition looking a little thin on customer numbers. It seems like the locals know a good thing when they see it.
Speaking of locals, the place was hosting a truly excellent blend of people – seemingly the local gay mafia outside, revealed by the roaring laughs yet serious nature of their eyeballing. After they were done with their people-watching, many a quip about the personal history of those they spied began, as did a spot of eavesdropping on my part; it was intriguing! It was fun to couple their musings with my own observations of the throng, I noticed the spread of customers; someone for every taste, it seems.
Back to the paperwork. The menu shows a wide variety of small plates for under $20, which was the choice of the evening. Four plates were selected, with the intention to test the chef’s capacity and that of my puku. Such sensationalist dish names as dynamite prawns (crikey!), twice cooked pork belly (when only once is for mere mediocrity), kaffir lime and chilli scallops along with pork and vege dumplings with dipping sauce.
A minor celebration was to attach itself in the way of a bottle of Billiecart salmon rosé – impressive bubbles at the cheapest price in town. Not exactly the sort of English pub wet material I remember. This nice touch early on in the night made me like this eatery almost immediately.
The food was superb, especially the dynamite prawns – fried in a light batter, with sriracha and mango sauce, this was the number one dish in the house and was just brilliant.
The other options for food include more mainstream pub-type grub – think burgers and sandwiches, but in gourmet high performing varieties.
Over the course of the night, the restaurant’s buzz improved, probably due to the amount of Billies’ best bubbles floating around – the energy in the place was great with plenty of attention shared between cruising eatery guests. The crowd felt like an extension of a house party – there were a few fresh faces and lots more familiar ones.
At the end of a short evening, the waiter arrived and we expected the same ol’, same ol’ – “How is everything?” Usually this means putting on a smile and quickly replying, “Great, thanks”. In this eatery, however, we got extra questions – “Which dish was your favourite? What did you think of the pork?” These people want to be good in all respects, all for the customers’ benefit – how utterly refreshing is that?
| Al Dente
Herne Bay Eatery & Bar
Address 70 Jervois Road, Herne Bay, Auckland
Phone (09) 376 5367
Open seven days for lunch and dinner
Bottom line: When the fake tan has worn off and you are still grimacing at the recent events at the local fashionista’s food houses, come to Herne Bay Eatery and breathe a sigh of relief!