Following my habit of technological backwardness, I have only just come across Zomato. I know, I know – I blog on FOOD and I should KNOW these things… But Zomato is relatively new in New Zealand, so those of my international readers who have an eyebrow raised right now, you can just lower it back down.
For those of you who don’t know what Zomato is, no judgements or criticisms are forthcoming from me. What you should do though, is check out the website or download the app. It’s GREAT. (I realise that there are a lot of capital letters in this blog, but I’m excited.) It is such an easy way to find places to eat – the search function allows you to filter based on price, cuisine type, ratings etc. You can see the menu for most places, the distance from your location (and there’s a map), as well as photos of the food and reviews from people who have been there. You can write your own reviews and if you take photos of what you’re eating, you can upload them for other people to see. This is all fantastic at helping you find new places to eat and making educated decisions about whether it will be worth your time and money. What I also like about the site/app, is that you can follow people you trust and see where they are eating and what they think of places. You can also create a wishlist of places you would like to try out.
Okay, so how did I find out about it? Well, Zomato have a network of what they call ‘trusted reviewers’. These are food bloggers who fulfil certain criteria and are then authenticated by Zomato. This happened to me this week and now I’ve suddenly become one of these trusted reviewers. If you’re interested in following me and seeing where I’ve eaten and what I’ve thought of these places, you can find a link to my profile on the top right of the Rice & Kai home page. Alternatively, you can search my handle on Zomato: @riceandkai. Writing posts on Rice & Kai takes quite a bit of effort, so I can see that Zomato will be a useful site for me to review places when I don’t have time to do it in full on here.
So, now to the review…
Charlie & George
Near our house, a new suburb is coming to life. Stonefields is reminiscent of Seahaven in The Truman Show – it is a place of suburban uniformity. When you drive down the streets, a lot of the houses look the same, but they’re all brand new and large, so the area is really growing. It’s no surprise then that they have opened Stonefields Market with new retail and food places to complement the already bustling Lunn Avenue area. Hubby, bubs and I headed down to check it out – quite a few places aren’t open yet, but the ‘Leased’ signs are an indication that there will be more places to enjoy in the future. We decided to try the cafe Charlie & George.
The interior of the place is nice and bright – on a warm day, it would be lovely to relax outside. It’s family friendly too – plenty of room for us to manoeuvre and station the pram without tripping anyone up. If you have older children, there was a bucket of chalk placed outside and children were happily scribbling on the concrete.
Like a lot of new eateries now, the design and decor of the place was a mix of funky and whimsical. Our favourite aspect was the wall which had lots of holes in it (interior designers will gasp in horror at my lack of wall name knowledge). Pencils had been stuck into the holes to create shelves. Very cool!
The table numbers were succulents in jars with little chalkboard signs – we did notice that our particular jar was filled with rice instead. We joked that subconsciously we chose that table because Asians are always attracted to rice.
Hubby ordered the banoffee smoothie ($7.50) and the Best Ugly Bagel which came with marinated heirloom tomato, avocado, cream cheese and pesto ($12.00). He also ordered a side of fries with house tomato relish and aioli ($6.00).
The banoffee smoothie was really good and something you must try if you love this dessert. Deliciously creamy and sweet, it really did taste like a banoffee pie. The bagel was also good – the toppings were a great combination. We were also pleased with the fries (although they were more like wedges) – generous cuts of potato, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
I ordered the lemongrass and ginger tea ($4.00) and corned beef and agria hash ($17.00).
The tea came in a pot complete with knitted tea cosy (very cute) and was lovely and strong. The corned beef and agria hash came with two poached eggs and ‘spicy’ tomato hollandaise. It wasn’t spicy at all – or at least, not for my taste. The dish was hearty and rich, with the sauce (although not spicy) being the right mix of creaminess and sharpness. It would have been improved with a small green salad on the side I think – it needed something to cut through all the richness. The texture was all soft – perhaps a better crust on the outside of the hash would have helped too.
Overall, we enjoyed our visit to Charlie & George. The staff were really friendly and helpful, engaging customers in conversations and being very patient with our indecisiveness. The food was good, the ambience lovely and the service was excellent. We will definitely be back.
Charlie & George
Address: 38-60 Stonefields Avenue, Mt Wellington
Phone: (09) 950 4497
Open: 7am – 3pm (Mon-Fri), 8am to 3:30pm (Sat-Sun)