Fancy

Published on November 29th, 2012 | by Ultimate OmNoms

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Hammerheads Restaurant & Bar

Before all the excitement of Taste of Auckland started, and just as we were kicking into summer; we ate out at a restaurant we always drive past on our way to Mission Bay. That's right, Hammerheads.

I always had quite a good impression of this restaurant – maybe from some amazing photos I saw a while back.  Standing on the outside just made me realise how long it's been operating next to Kelly Tarlton. Looking quite average from the outside, we stepped inside to find something semi-high class, but then no pretentiousness. Everything looked like it was from a fine-dining scene, but the atmosphere felt more like a family restaurant. Good? Bad? You'll have to see it for yourself.

 Hamerhead's paella of black tiger prawn, squid, mussels, clam, chorizo with Israeli cous cous and crushed pea

I think rice, cous cous, and dishes like paella are perfect as entrees to open up the appetite for the amazing main. Likewise, the paella was done well – not so undercooked to get my teeth grinding and crunching. In addition with the spiciness from the chorizo just made me a bit more hungry. It's a pity I felt like there wasn't enough seafood in the dish; and I do wish the peas were more of a puree, but hey, it added to the colours!

Freedom Farm free range crispy pork belly with kumara fondant, kale, pine nut and golden raisin vierge

This is one of the times when I have to use my knife to hack my way through the pork pelly. It was overcooked – dry textured meat and the skin so hard to cut through – you basically have to try and fit the whole thing in your mouth and see if you your teeth can do a better job. Very ladylike. Seeing that the pork belly was meant to be the spotlight of the dish, it was hard to rescue it, even though the rest of the dish wasn't unoffensive. The combination was sweetly mellow and the raisins were a pop of surprise whenever I found one in my mouth.

 Hawkes Bay lamb rump sous vide, date, chick pea, cumin, aubergine, tomato fondue and labneh cheese

Unimpressed by the entree, surely the meal can only get better? And it did, though not exponentially. The lamb rump was beautiful and sliced through perfectly. The use of chickpeas as the starch of the dish was a good change from the usual lamb with potatoes. The tomato fondue gave it that zesty kick and a reminder for me to look outside at the gorgeous Mission Bay view.

Snapper with crab and corn risotto cake, tempura caperberry, salsa verde, petite watercress and almond

I love snapper, but I rarely order it. Why? Because I always go fishing, and we all know the most popular fishes to catch in NZ: Snapper, trevally, and Kahawai. This snapper was just as fresh, and cooked nicely to go with the almond and tempura. What really impressed me was the risotto cake! Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside – first time having risotto in this form with the subtle taste of the almonds, and watercress to keep refreshed so everything isn't too heavy.

Dessert trio to share

From left: Chocolate and cointreau tart, orange, frosted macadamia, roast white chocolate salad, mandarin vanilla gel, ‘maltesers’ ice cream

Banana and toffee pudding, banana powder, toffee sauce, banana ice cream

Blackberry yoghurt panna cotta, scorched Italian meringue, compressed melon, de hydrated pistachio and olive oil cake, melon sorbet.

My first impression of this dessert was that it was huge! Even for two people. Now the next questions would be; which one was your favourite? Why? How were the other ones?

Favourite would be the Banana and toffee pudding topped by the sauce and powder. I found the pudding to be super sweet (which all banana or toffee flavoured things are), but didn't find it to be too heavy.

What really impressed me was the pannacotta, with the dehydrated fruit and sorbet – it was a texture wonderland all over again. The dehydrated raspberries and pistachios reminded me of Heston Blumenthal's show (huge fan of!). The only reason it didn't hit top favourite was that it was just too sour for my taste.

Orange is generally not an option in dessert for me (I prefer the raw fruit) – I'm also not a fan of chocolate and orange combined together (waiting to be proven wrong!) But I have to say, the maltesers ice cream was divine with the macadamia. I'm guessing toward the end of the evening I wasn't in the mood for such a heavy dessert, so was really only into something simple.

The whole experience at Hammerheads wasn't a wow – but it wasn't bad. The food was up to par (or at least my dishes were), the seating was nice, no hiccups in service. But we were left with the feeling that something was missing. I'm guessing when you're shelling out at restaurants that offer $35+ a main, we're always expecting an experience than just a dine-out meal. This touch can be brought about by passionate waiting staff that make you feel extra special- which was probably the secret ingredient missing. Even though staff was friendly, polite, and did what they were supposed to do – there was just that absence of vavoom!

Hammerheads is a good restaurant, but lets hope next time the passion comes through! The setting would be perfect for an event, or just a fancy place to go with friends and family.

Hammerheads

Telephone:+64 9 5214400
Fax:+64 9 5214499
Email:info@hammerheads.co.nz

Location:
Hammerheads Restaurant
19 Tamaki Drive
Okahu Bay
Auckland

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