It’s a bit like the airlines in this downturn: survival for restaurants is all about getting bums on seats, at almost any cost. This competition has produced a restaurant scene in downtown Tauranga that’s littered with recession-busting prices and specials. The bargains range from great value lunch specials, to discounts for a group to dine. And you don’t have to look far for a happy-hour of some sort. The game is to get the customer through the door for a drink – and they may just buy food as well.
BoTCom set off to investigate The Strand and neighbouring streets, to see what deals we could spy, and found the $15 set menu lunch (even cheaper in the odd case) is alive and well.
Wharf Street Restaurant (www.wharfstreet.co.nz) has a big sign out advertising $15 lunches, and there are six dishes to choose from. Try a seafood chowder with prawns, baby octopus and a musical-sounding ‘melody’ of fish. Fish and chips are also on the menu, along with beef & ale pie, beef lasagne, chicken pasta, and spaghetti bolognese.
The Naked Grape (www.nakedgrape.co.nz) immediately downstairs from Wharf Street, rolls out its share of $15 lunch dishes: a falafel salad with grilled pita, cucumber, red onion and lemon yoghurt, a green Thai chicken curry, a Thai beef stir fry, or spaghetti tossed with sautéed salami, red onion, capsicum and olives, in a herbed tomato sauce.
A few doors down, The Horny Bull is big on choice with ten dishes on its $15 lunch menu. They range from fish & chips, to open steak or chicken sandwiches, to chicken Caesar salad or calamari salad.
The Bull is also luring fans for a good steak dinner under $30, with its $25 Sunday night Steak and Ale deal from 4pm. For that modest price you get a 300 gm scotch fillet, fries, onion rings, salad and sauce – and a beer.
Still on The Strand, De Bier Haus (www.debierhaus.com) will tempt you with a $10 Pasta Tuesday from noon onwards, with three pastas to choose from. This makes for a cheap night out for moviegoers, when you combine it with the $9 Tuesday night movies at Bay City Cinemas - $4.50 cheaper than the normal evening sessions. De Bier Haus has an appealing German-hunting-lodge atmosphere, so their pitch - ‘enjoy a meal in front of their roaring fire’ - has some real pull.
Get a group together and you can line up a three course dinner at Soho (no website) on The Strand, for just $35 – entree, main and dessert. With its French-Mediterranean cuisine, Soho scores well on the restaurant review websites. Soho caters for groups ranging from 10 to 40 people, open from Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm til late.
Fancy an after work drink or two? There are heaps of Happy Hours to choose from, and it’s just a matter of choosing the pub to fit your mood. Naked Grape on the corner of The Strand and Wharf Street has a happy three hours that run from 3pm to 6pm, with house wines at $7 a glass, and tap beer $4.50.
De Bier Haus is strong in the Happy Hour stakes. The pub has extended its ‘Corporate Shout Friday’ so the cut price drinks start from mid day on Fridays. DBH claim ‘The Strand’s best deals’ with $4 Steinlagers, or a $4 house wine. (There’s even cut price coffee at a mere $2).
For 20-somethings, Grumpy Mole has $4 drinks ‘all night long’ on Thursday nights.
Naturally, covering the whole city would take exhaustive research, and we don’t claim to have spotted every last discount and deal going. If you’re a restaurateur or bar owner feeling hard done by...send us your details and we’ll catch up next newsletter (firstname.lastname@example.org). We haven’t forgotten Mount Maunganui either...next month we’ll go bargain-spotting at Mount Maunganui.
Take a ‘Taste Buds Cruise’ at Shiraz
Shiraz’s new menu tempts you to embrace the passion of the people of the Mediterranean and their eclectic mix of traditional cuisines. It asks you not to be afraid of strong flavours of tomato, garlic, olives and spices. It begs you try something different - an entree of Gambas a Pil Pil, the Spanish style shrimps with tomato, garlic and secret spices; a main of Tunisian Lamb Shanks perfectly cooked with onions, raisins and aromatic spices; or for dessert, Crème Caramel flavoured with orange.
Well-loved chef Henry Campana has taken over Shiraz’s kitchen bringing with him recipes from his former homes – Morocco, France, Spain. The menu invites you to join him on a Mediterranean cruise for the palate.
Combined with new warm decor throughout and authentic ethnic music, Shiraz has been transformed into a colourful restaurant where guests feel they could almost be dining in some far off land.
Henrys creations are based on recipes handed down from his mother, featuring flavours which have excited taste buds for hundreds of years, but Henry has added his own contemporary twist to each dish.
When we dined at Shiraz, Henry created a special entree tasting platter for us, featuring a little of everything. The Croquettes Shiraz which comes in a choice of bacon, smoked fish or sundried tomato humus were our favourite – crisp on the outside, soft and delicious in the middle. The Gambas al Pil Pil was deliciously different from other shrimp entrees on offer. We also enjoyed the Turkish Koftas with tzatziki. Shiraz Bread and Dips Platter featured homemade humus, garlic and North African spiced olives marinated on-site, and a tapenade which will delight olive lovers.
In keeping with the restaurants Mediterranean theme, many of the dinner mains are centred on the sea: Pan Fried Fish in a Spanish Ajada sauce, Butterflied King Prawns, and the magnificently preserved Delices de Poison aux Fruits de Mer, which is a moulded filet of fish encasing mussels, scallops and king prawns in a light tomato sauce. Henry is most proud of the Paella Valencian however, Shiraz own take on the classic Spanish meal of saffron rice, chicken, fish and seafood. Also on offer are Moroccan Chicken Thighs, Tunisian Lamb Shanks, Prime Scotch Fillet Mignon, Spaghetti Santorini and a vegetarian fish of the day.
For dessert, guest can choose from orange Crème Caramel, Profiteroles au Chocolate, Tiramisu, or Shiraz's own ice-cream sundae or cheesecake. Shiraz’s lunch menu features meals from the dinner menu as well as Tunisian Chakchouka - spicy meatballs in tomato and coriander sauce; a classic Tortilla Espanola, Pita Based Pizzas; Salade Nicoise and Greek and house salads. Shiraz’s popular courtyard has been renovated and the VIP room or carnotzet, as Henry calls it, means there’s plenty of space for private functions. Shiraz also provides an excellent out-catering service. Who not join them for a Mediterranean cruise?
(By Natasha Mitchell – Weekend Sun)