Greerton Village, the southern gateway to Tauranga, is now throwing out a bit of a challenge to the downtown - for the number of ethnic eateries scattered through one small urban area.
Tauranga’s is too small for a little Italy, or Chinatown, but Greerton Village is on an eateries-of-the-world path - with everything from French to Turkish and Asian food. (Some are only takeaways, but in a recession- ravaged world, where’s the harm in that?).
The newest cafe is a first for the Western Bay - a French creperie called Le Chat Noir.
The Cat gets immediate points for resisting over-kill; sure there’s a hearty ‘Bonjour’ on the sign board, and an obligatory black and white photo of the Eiffel Tour on one wall, but beyond that, the French thing isn’t spread on too thickly. There’s a French sound track in the background, but thankfully it’s lilting and low-key (a little Edith Piaf goes a long way). The silvery black wallpaper, bistro-type chairs and lighting, and one or two 19th century posters all contribute to the je-ne-sais-quoi.
You won’t be left wishing you had a stronger currency like the Euro either, because the Cat is well-priced for what could rightly be called a speciality cafe/restaurant.
Breakfast runs till mid day with some mouth-watering dishes, if you’re prepared to laugh in Jenny Craig’s face, such as French toast with bacon, bananas and maple syrup for $12.50. (You may not want to eat again that day?) A little less intimidating, there are French pastries for $3.50 – and throw in a good Fusion coffee.
So you want heart-ticking healthier? Le Chat Noir lays on a range of traditional French salads: such as Nicoise, Paysanne, and Mozzarella.
The crepe menu covers sweet and savoury bases. Savoury crepes range in price from $8.50 for brie, tomatoes and basil, to $14.50 for minced beef, bacon, mushrooms and gruyere. Sweet crepes start at $5 for the time-honoured lemon and sugar crepe of the sort you can buy from any street vendor on a Paris street. But at the exotic end, there are crepes like the mascarpone, almonds fruit and ganache (sweet filling) for $11.50.
Cat also serves up the traditional Croque Monsieur, a sort of French toastie with ham, gruyere and béchamel. The Croque Madame has the same ingredients with an egg added.
The cafe has tables and chairs outside where, by contrast with most of the planet, you can find a free park easily. Indoors, beside a collectable retro black drinks fridge, is a comfy sofas-and-magazines reading area. Le Chat Noir is at 144 Chadwick Road, Greerton, tel 579 9436.
Le Chat Noir adds France to the list of ethnic foods available. You’ll find Middle Eastern at Turkish to Go, Indian at Curry Planet and Calcutta Curry, and Asian at Noodle Canteen. You can even pick up a very Western-type roast dinner.
Just around the corner in Cameron Road, Greer’s aims to be the ‘ultimate village pub,’ and has that ambition pretty well nailed down.
Centrally located in Greerton village, with its stone exterior, it could pass for a small town pub somewhere in the South Island. Inside is a spacious and inviting dining and bar area, with a touch of the West Coast, courtesy of stone fireplaces, wooden floors (French maple) and panelling. But it’s lighter, airier – and sorry West Coasters, the food is probably many times better.
The ‘gastro pub’ label has been hung on Greer’s, and if it that means restaurant-class dining, but with a menu catering for all budgets, then it fits. Would-be diners should note that Greer’s is one of Jack and Nancy Hogg’s eateries – the good natured couple with a hard-won reputation for award-winning Tauranga restaurants. The Hoggs have decades of successful restaurants behind them, back as far as early Harbourside – and highly regarded Bravo, and Encore in more recent years. And Manager Siobhan Fitzgerald has food qualifications aplenty - more than a decade’s experience as a chef.
Almost any excuse works for Greer’s: after work drinks and a snacky dinner, Saturday night meal out, or even business meeting with the food laid on – because there’s a private meeting room out back with its own board room table and big TV.
Greer’s offers breakfast and brunch, with the $15 Irish-style bacon and eggs (topped with poached eggs and her hollandaise) a favourite. A large menu features 9 ‘light meals,’ and around the same number of mains – from beer battered fish and chips at $19 – to meaty choices like scotch fillet with potato cake and salad ($27.50).
Popular dishes include the Greer’s burger, a homemade beef and bacon pattie stuffed with mature cheddar, and topped with relish aioli and an onion ring, fries and salad on the side. The $14 Hot Pork Sammie (New Zild speak) with its mustard cream, caramelized onions and pesto, also has a following.
Greer’s caters happily for couples or groups with three types of platters for two to three people. Some rave about the seafood one. Calorie watchers face big stern temptations because desserts are all $10.
Thankfully, Greer’s is a place where you can still get a modestly-priced glass of house wine - $7 – compared with the $10-plus of some local restaurants. The wine list includes house wines and plenty of labels like Huntaway, Cloudy Bay, Allan Scott, etc. There’s Monteiths, Amstel and Heineken on tap ($2 off Heineken on Thirsty Thursdays). And the drinks list is well supplied with non-alcoholic choices.
More and more people , especially those who live in the South of Tauranga are adopting Greer’s as their ‘own local,’ says Siobhan, some of the them looking for something a little less boisterous than The Strand on a Friday or Saturday night. That said, if its thronging people you want, there’s quiz nights on Wednesday, and live music every second Friday.
Greer’s is just along from the roundabout at 1334 Cameron Road – handy to the Tauranga Racecourse and golf course. Open every night except Monday til 12 or 1 am. Tel 577 0130, www.greers.co.nz