The Ancient Mariner

The Ancient Mariner 4

They’ve done it again! Trev and Tina, former owners of “The Chip Shop” have created a glorious new fish and chips haven in Mt Eden.  The Ancient Mariner at 157 Mt Eden Road is not only a delightful place to visit it is also the home of the best fish ‘n’ chips in town, possibly anywhere.

You couldn’t find friendlier or more community minded owner/operators than Trev and Tina, which means there is always a warm greeting and jovial atmosphere at The Ancient Mariner.

The décor is, in a word, fun. From the ocean going ships, hot chip stealing seagulls and the story of the “creation” of fish ‘n’ chips on the walls to the ocean sounds piped through the restaurant, it is a great place to be. Whether you are dining in (yes you can dine in) or just waiting for your takeaways, you’ll spend a pleasant time there and believe me, just walking through the door puts a smile on any kid’s face.

The Ancient Mariner

Now for the food… Oh the food. I’ll start with the business side of things. As always Trev and Tina are every bit as careful with preparing and cooking your gluten free goodies as you yourself would be. They keep everything separate and really do understand coeliacs and the dangers of food contamination, not just gluten free ingredients. This means coeliacs and those with gluten intolerance can feel completely safe eating there and I can personally assure you of this.

The menu for the gluten free among us is more varied than you get from most takeaway outlets and even many cafes or restaurants. There are tuna, prawn and salmon skewers (for those keen on watching their waistlines) as well as paua fritters, battered oysters (seasonal of course), scallops and mussels. On top of that there’s the usual and delightful snapper, terakihi and fish of the day, which you can have battered or grilled. The fish is always really fresh and top quality and the batter is deliciously light and crispy – seriously you’d never know it was gluten free. They also have hotdogs and Angus beef sausages. For the vegetarians, or again those who want a lighter or healthier option there are mushy peas, salads, corn fritters and kumara chips which sit on the menu alongside the potato fritters and hand-made, thick-cut potato chips. Plus if you have a sweet tooth there are pineapple fritters. What a list and what more could you want? For the record I can personally recommend the corn fritters, potato fritters, salads, kumara chips and those hand-made, thick-cut chips, not to mention that fabulous fish. Plus I intend to slowly work my way through a few other options as well. On top of all this they only charge a one-off gluten free surcharge of $1.50 to your entire order, no matter how big it is, very generous if you ask me.

The Ancient Mariner 2

Of course even with the healthier options, fish ‘n’ chips isn’t something you eat all the time, but I have to confess that when I realised it was gluten that was making me so ill and that I had to give it up for good, the thought of never having fish ‘n’ chips again was almost more than I could bear. Now that thought is banished and I am once more a happy camper. Go on, be honest I know you feel the same.

 

On top of all this, the children’s playground at the bottom of Mt Eden is literally a minutes’ walk away just across the road. A long play on the swings and things followed by fish ‘n’ chips in the park sounds like the perfect family Sunday afternoon to me. Plus there are plenty of other, quieter areas around the mountain for couples or groups of friends and even an area specifically allocated for dogs so it really is the perfect setting, whatever your situation, to sit in the afternoon sun or the dying light of the evening and enjoy your delicious fish, chips, fritters or whatever else has tempted your tastebuds.

http://www.theancientmariner.co.nz

Advertisements

It seems that sometimes life gets in the way of living.

When I began this blog I was really enthusiastic about it. I wanted to help other people with severe gluten intolerance and thought that if I could help one person find somewhere safe where they could dine out with family and friends without fear of becoming ill, then I had done a good job. Somewhere along the line life got busy and my blog paid the price.

I am happy to say that I am back and determined to stick with my blog. In light of that I must warn of a few changes to previous posts.

Firstly “The Chip Shop” is under new management. Trev and Tina (former owners) informed me that they would fully train the new owners in looking after their coeliac customers, however beyond that it would be up to the new owners as to whether or not they continued the safe practices. Trev and Tina have a new venture, which I will discuss in a blog entry soon and I have to say I have followed them. I haven’t been back to ‘The Chip Shop’ since Trev and Tina moved on and therefore I cannot confirm whether or not it is still safe for coeliacs. I intend to do some research into this but if there is anyone out there who is still a customer and knows whether or not the new owners have kept up with the safe gluten free practices I would love to know. In the meantime please DO NOT take my old post as confirmation that you can safely eat there.

Hell Pizza – sadly I have to report that the last time I ordered a pizza from the Symonds Street store (just a few weeks ago) I became very ill from it. As far as I could tell the pizza was gluten free so I assume one of their staff wasn’t careful about contamination issues. I intend to inform them and ask them to re-train their staff as this is not acceptable. I do have to say that I have had a number of their pizzas and normally they are safe but I do suggest you are careful if ordering from them and are explicit about your needs.

The Library Café is also under new management and again I haven’t been there since the changeover so I cannot say as to whether or not it is still safe for coeliacs so again please DO NOT take my early post as proof that you can eat there.  I will research this establishment again also.

On a brighter note I have some fantastic new places to tell you about and will do so very soon!

The Mexican Café

The Mexican Cafe Perfect for a first date, a family dinner, a friendly catch-up or even just one of those ‘don’t feel like cooking’ evenings, The Mexican Café at 67 Victoria Street West in Auckland’s CBD is the go to place for great food, a fantastic bar, friendly staff and an atmosphere that is always lively and lots of fun.

Very handy to Auckland’s tourist areas, with Skycity across the road, hotels nearby and walking distance from the viaduct, The Mexican Café is so much more than you expect when you see the little door and steep flight of steps.

With a huge list of quality tequilas (80 to be exact), Mexican and Kiwi beers, cocktails (including Mojitos, Margaritas and Sangria of course) reasonably priced wines, champagne, spirits, non-alcoholic options, happy hour deals  and, if all that wasn’t enough, tea and coffee, the bar provides every drink you could possibly want.

Now I haven’t tried any of the tequila on its own and although the margaritas aren’t the best in town (and I think I’ll keep the place that does the best ones my little secret) they are very good, especially if they are on ice and not blended (in my opinion anyway).

The restaurant is decorated with streamers, sombreros, cacti, paintings and so much colour that when you pass through the doorway at the top of the stairs, it feels as though you have left Auckland altogether and stepped into a world where Mexican culture is the theme and every day is a party just waiting for you to enjoy it.

decorationsThe staff are very helpful and if you ask they will bring you a gluten free menu that clearly states which dishes are gluten free and, for those that aren’t, states which can be altered and how. With the spice levels able to be adjusted to suit all tastes the food, which for the record is really tasty, is suitable for all members of the family and all palates. I can personally recommend the beef quesadilla and the enchiladas and nachos are good too. I’m also dying to try the beefsteak ranchero (although I might have to swap out the sauce), chilli con carne and the lasagne. Yes, the lasagne is gluten free as it is made traditionally with corn tortillas. When you arrive you are given a bowl of corn chips and salsa on the house which I always enjoy and they make a great appetizer. The prices are reasonable, especially if you go for lunch (from 12pm Monday to Friday) as the meals are just $10, a decent size and the lunch menu also offers plenty of gluten free options.

Friday night is DJ King Salsa night (Raul Peredo) , so every Friday from 11pm The Mexican Café is filled with hot Latin dance music including Salsa, Samba and more. There is even space to dance and the café also hosts new Latin bands and performers transforming the café into a party. Plus if you leave them your email address you can be among the first to receive information about events and entertainment.

The Mexican Café has a balcony overlooking Victoria Street, which provides a view of the Skytower and a more relaxed atmosphere. In Summer it is cooler on the balcony but they also have heaters out there for the colder months. The Café can also cater to large groups and there is a function room that can seat up to 45 people and is gorgeously decorated with candles and paintings which give the space a lovely ambience.

DoorwayI have to say there is one downside to The Mexican Café and that is that the building does not provide disabled access and, short of being carried up those rather steep, narrow steps, there is no way a disabled person could reach the restaurant.  Also do be aware that the café is crazy busy on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights so if you don’t want to wait (although the bar is a great first stop for your evening out) then I do suggest booking, which you can do quickly and easily online or by phone.  Just be sure to book early as bookings are also limited to leave space for casual diners.

The Mexican Café turns 30 this year so clearly they are doing something right and with the music, bar, décor, balcony and great food it is the perfect place to start, finish or spend your long lazy afternoon or fun night out.

http://www.mexicancafe.co.nz/

The Chip Shop Ltd

The Chip ShopI come from what I call a ‘road trip family’. We really get around the place and there are very few parts of New Zealand I haven’t seen. We’ve been known to go from Auckland to Rotorua and back in a day, although we prefer a weekend, and give us a long weekend and who’s to say where we’ll end up. I have to say I haven’t been everywhere in NZ, but not far off and as far as I know – and please comment and correct me if I’m wrong – The Chip Shop on Manukau Road, Royal Oak is the only one to do coeliac safe, gluten free fish ‘n’ chips. And I love them for it! I mean, wow, gluten free fish ‘n’ chips, what more could you want? Well, how about award winning gf fish ‘n’ chips that are prepared and deep fried in a coeliac safe, contamination free space, completely separate to all products containing gluten? Seriously, The Chip Shop delivers on all fronts.

For the record those awards include being named “Best Gluten Free Takeout in Auckland” in the Viva 2010 Takeout Awards and “Best Fish and Chips Takeout in Auckland” in the Viva 2011 Takeout Awards. Not something to be sniffed at.

To be fair, I would go there even if the fish ‘n’ chips weren’t the best as this is one of the things I missed the most over the five years I spent being coeliac and not knowing about The Chip Shop. Even though I hardly ever have this kind of food, the thought of never having it again was kinda depressing and it was such a delight to find this place, especially when you count the fact that these really are the best fish ‘n’ chips I have ever had.

Now if all of that wasn’t exciting enough for you, the good news doesn’t stop there. You see there are other gluten free delights on offer too. Although not everything on the menu is gluten free (the menu clearly states what is and isn’t) there are enough gluten free options to keep you trying new things for a very long time. There are paua fritters and battered mussels, a fish meal and a sausage meal, hot dogs on sticks, a smoked fish pie, burgers and sauces and so much more. As I said I don’t go there too often and I haven’t yet tried everything I want to, but I am dying to try the kumara chips and corn fritters as well as the grilled fresh snapper. There are even two dessert options, a pineapple fritter with cinnamon sugar and a whole battered banana with cinnamon sugar. Honestly, There are so many options you’d never even know you were coeliac at The Chip Shop.

Trevor and Tina are ready to serve you fantastic fish 'n' chips.On top of all that the owners are very friendly and the service is great. If you go on a Friday or Saturday night be prepared to wait a little for your food, just a half hour or so. This is only because they are so busy, a testament to the quality of the food. That is unless you order over the phone, then they have your lunch or dinner ready when you are. Yes, you read right, they do lunch as well.

The shop itself is small and doesn’t provide a dine-in option, but there is a comfy couch to sit on while you wait for your order. The food is always well wrapped to keep it warm while you make your way home or to Cornwall Park which is just up the road and the perfect spot for a picnic lunch or tea on one of Auckland’s perfect summer evenings (or picturesque autumn evenings, or crisp winter’s days or warm spring afternoons). Now I ask you, what could be easier or nicer than a coeliac safe, fish‘n’chips picnic in the park with the best fried goodies you’ll find anywhere? Just add great company and personally I reckon there’s nothing better.

http://www.thechipshop.co.nz/

Takeaway Chains That Cater To Coeliacs

Hell Pizza and Burgerfuel are the only two take-away chains I have found (so far) that do coeliac safe fast food. Some chains offer gluten free pizza bases or burger buns but I have found they are not as careful with their food preparation as these two chains. For this reason I am stating that you will only find contamination free, gluten free options here.

HELL PIZZA

Hell Pizza, Symonds StreetHell Pizza places (which are all around New Zealand – see website for locations) offer gluten free pizza bases and a gluten free base sauce. Their pizzas certainly aren’t the cheapest around but they are really, really good. Inside Hell Pizza, Symonds StreetObviously not all the pizza toppings are gluten free but they offer a ‘creator’ pizza which allows you to choose exactly what toppings they do and don’t put on your pizza. They also offer vegetarian and even vegan options for those of you who are also vegan and/or can’t eat dairy or egg.  They offer other choices such as BBQ Pork Ribs and a Lamb Shank meal which they claim are also gluten free. I personally haven’t had these but if I was going to I would first check about the gravy and sauces on these items.  There is also a gluten FRIENDLY chocolate brownie. This is fine if you struggle a bit with gluten but if you are coeliac be very wary, it doesn’t have any gluten in it but isn’t prepared in a specifically gluten free kitchen. Whenever I order a pizza from them I make sure I request the staff wash their hands, use separate utensils and keep my food well away from anything that has gluten in it and I have found the staff to be very obliging and haven’t had any problems eating the pizza. One final point, they deliver, so you don’t even have to leave the house to get a great, safe pizza.

http://hellpizza.com/nz/ 

BURGERFUEL

Burgerfuel, Parnell RoadWhat can I say? Everyone wants a burger from time to time, right? Well at Burgerfuel you won’t just get any old burger. We are talking gourmet burgers here and if the counter staff is unsure which toppings are gluten free, you can ask for the manager, or let them know that they will find a printed list under their counter. Burgerfuel outlets are all over New Zealand and are often situated close to movie theatres and entertainment areas – such as pretty much next door to Imax on Queen Street, around the corner from Takapuna’s bars and on Parnell Road opposite the Irish Pub – so can be a useful part of a night out as well as just being a safe option for takeaway nights.  Gluten free burgers will take a little longer to prepare and serve but rest assured this is because the staff will be making sure your burger is safely prepared away from any foods containing gluten and trust me they are worth the wait. For the record the relish and aioli are both gf and really good additions to your burger experience. Most of the stores are rather small so there isn’t a huge amount of space for extra deep fryers. This means that although the chips are gluten free they are cooked in the same oil as products containing gluten so if this is a problem for you (as it is for me) then fries are off the menu, but trust me with the size of the burgers you won’t miss them.

If you do have a hankering for fries then I am about to let you in on my secret place to get them in my next post, so watch this space.

http://www.burgerfuel.com/nz/

Dining Establishments That Cater To Gluten Free Diners (part 2)

This is the second installment of my list of places that don’t offer a gluten free menu but provide some gluten free options that are prepared and served in a coeliac safe way. There may not be a lot of choice involved in dining at these establishments but at least it means there is more variety in the places (and areas around Auckland) us coeliacs can eat.

THE CAKE STALL

So inviting!

So inviting!

The Cake Stall at 754 Manukau Road, Royal Oak is the cutest little boutique bakery around. They create beautiful birthday and celebration cakes but also offer brunch and lunch items. Their coffee is good and although they only offer a few gluten free options they are really yummy and are safe for coeliacs.

Yum!

Yum!

The orange and almond cupcakes are moist and delicious with icing to die for and the chocolate and almond cupcake is a nice alternative to the usual orange. If you are looking for something savoury the salmon potato cakes are also very good. They offer a full size gf orange and almond cake and family sized gluten free slice as well.  The shop itself is so lovely with all sorts of cake stands, tins and decorations for sale. It really is worth a visit (especially at Christmas). During busy times (such as the Christmas rush), they do take on extra counter staff so be sure to ask for your waitress to wash the tongs before using them on gf items or to simply pick them up with a piece of the cake paper they use to line the take-away boxes. Whenever I’ve been in and made such a request a regular staff member has appeared to show the ‘newbie’ what to do and they are always careful and accommodating.

http://thecakestall.co.nz/

MINK CAFE

Mink CafeIf you feel like taking a stroll along Parnell Rise, and you should as it is beautiful, then Mink Café is the perfect stopping place. Mink can be found on the ground floor of the historic Exchange Hotel on the corner of Parnell Road and Heather Street and has a sunny aspect and outdoor seating with which to enjoy it. They cater for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, usually have a gf cake on offer, do good coffee and are licensed.  The bar offers, fine wines, beers, spirits, cocktails and even a good number of boutique New Zealand wines. Mink CafeI have only been there for brunch myself, but certainly enjoyed it enough to return and to take them up on the offer of a coffee card.  They offer gf toast or fruit bread and ask that you be very clear if you have any food allergies. I have found the staff to be careful and accommodating and the food is very nice. As I said I have only been for brunch and although the other menus do not state which dishes are gluten free, every menu comes with a request to inform the staff of your food allergies so I am certain they could help you find something suitable which I know will be safely prepared. Mink is certainly worth a visit if you are in the area.

http://www.minkcafe.co.nz/

The Autobahn Cafes

Autobahn Bombay HillsIf you are driving into or out of Auckland in either direction then you will come across an Autobahn Café. You will have to leave the motorway to visit of course, but not by much and it is worth the wee detour.  They are popular with both locals and travellers and provide plenty of parking and a petrol station at each café.

I haven’t been to the Papakura Autobahn for a really long time so I’m not sure how they cater to gluten free customers. I usually go to the Bombay Hills Autobahn Café when I am heading out of Auckland for a holiday or road trip so usually go there for breakfast, something I can recommend doing as the breakfast options – such as the Panini with your choice of topping – are very nice and the coffee is good too. We tend not to leave so early when we head north so visit the Dairy Flat Autobahn Café a bit later in the day and usually end up going there for lunch. In this case I usually order a pie as this is a treat. You don’t get a good gluten free pie all that often (and naturally I try not to eat pies too often) and these are good pies.

I have always been too wary to try one of the flourless cakes on offer, simply because they aren’t labelled gluten free  (so I can’t be sure they are prepared in a coeliac safe environment) and are in a self-service cabinet, which makes contamination too much of a possibility for me. If you ask, the staff will present you with a gluten free menu which lists a fair amount and variety of gluten free options, including a roast dinner (minus the gravy of course).  The menu clearly states which dishes are completely gluten free and which need altering, such as having sauces removed or swapped for a safe option, so there is no confusion as to what you can and can’t eat.

It is vital that you explain carefully to the staff the extent of your difficulties with gluten and exactly how you need your food prepared. For example, if you are coeliac rather than gluten intolerant and therefore require your bread or Panini to be toasted on a clean tray under the grill, rather than in the toaster that the (dare I say it) “normal” bread goes in, then you do need to make sure this is clearly understood. Happily, upon explaining such things, I have always found the counter staff at both cafes I have been to recently to be very careful, accommodating and concerned with double checking my needs and making sure this information is clearly transferred to the kitchen staff.

Autobahn Bombay HillsFood aside the atmosphere is relaxed and casual, the décor is simple but pleasant, the staff is friendly and I always enjoy my visit. In fact I have to say, if I am heading off on holiday when I stop in, I find myself walking in and somehow feeling like that is when my holiday begins. So, if you are a local or traveller, the autobahn cafes are worth a visit and if you are travelling then I wish you a happy and safe trip.

Lastly if you are a local and intend to visit reasonably often then you may want to check out the website for information on the Autobahn Loyalty Club.

http://www.autobahncafe.co.nz/