Who would have thought that li’l ol’ Warkworth would boast such a diverse range of great eating establishments. Take a wander down Neville Street and it seems the cuisines of much of the world are represented – traditional Kiwi fare (Gunners), French (So French Café), Italian (Aldo’s, Pizza Hut), American (Blue’s BBQ & Bar), Japanese (Asahi), Middle Eastern (Pita Pit), and, just a street away, European (Wharf Street Bistro). There are fun ways to enjoy your food too; regular live music at The Tahi Bar, and the chance to indulge in a bit of Beatles nostalgia at Let it Brew. Mahurangi Matters popped into a few of the establishments and asked chefs and owners to pick one of their favourite dishes and tell us all about it.
Kaitaia Fire hot wings feature at The Tahi Bar.
The Tahi Bar
When Rachel Cooney and Gareth Hedges took over at Tahi Bar, they were eager to complement their range of local craft beers with some fine food. Their latest offering is the Blackbrick Wing Platter, which comprises nine chicken wings prepared in three different styles. There are three sweet smoked paprika wings, three crispy American dry rub wings and three buffalo-style Kaitaia Fire hot wings. Rachel says the Kaitaia Fire ones certainly have some bite to them. The wings are paired with a persillade and sour cream/chive dipping sauce, and a crunchy sesame coleslaw.
Mouth-watering twice-cooked pork belly can be found at the Wharf Street Bistro.
Wharf Street Bistro
Wharf Street Bistro owner Tahlia Meharry decides the bistro’s famous twice-cooked pork belly is the one she should highlight.
“It’s so heartwarming, with delicious mouth-watering flavours,” she says.
The pork is marinated in garlic and sage and served with a gourmet potato smash and creamy cauliflower purée.
“It’s finished off with Ray’s Rocket (produced in Matakana), a perfectly cooked poached pear and crispy crackling – all dripping with our red wine jus. How does that sound?” Tahlia asks.
Aldo Franckin is a big fan of homemade ravioli.
Chef Aldo Franckin finds it hard to pin down a single dish to talk about.
He could wax lyrical about the calamari fritti or the chicken Marsala – made with an Italian fortified wine. But he settles on extolling the virtues of Aldo’s homemade ravioli, filled with a combination of meats and served in a creamy tomato and wine source.
Aldo says it makes a big difference having homemade ravioli, which mercifully comes without the chemicals, preservatives and MSG found in mass-produced, commercial versions.
“It tastes better and it’s better for you – a bit like a good whisky,” he says.
Blues BBQ & Bar chef Lisa Bates recommends the Texan Beef Brisket.
Blue’s BBQ & Bar
Chef Lisa Bates says when people think American barbecue they tend to think pork ribs. But the most popular choice at Blue’s is the Texan Beef Brisket.
“That’s the one people love, and it would be our signature dish,” she says.
The brisket is smoked and slow cooked at low temperatures from anywhere between eight and 16 hours. At Blue’s, the brisket is served traditional style with barbecue beans, coleslaw, sidewinder fries and a roll.
Warkworth Pizza Hut owner Gunjan Swaminarayan says you can’t beat a Super Supreme.
Owner Gunjan Swaminarayan says the Pizza Hut always has different specials going on and the menu changes with the seasons.
However, the Super Supreme pizza remains constant and is both Gunjan’s and the town’s favourite. Gunjan reckons it’s the combination of ingredients that make it so good – satisfying the meat lover, but also having a good dose of healthy vegetables as well.
The Super Supreme comprises mildly spicy pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, pineapple, mushrooms, green capsicum, onion and melted cheese.
Lamb shanks feature at Gunners.
For relaxed, family-orientated dining, it’s hard to beat Gunners Restaurant at the RSA.
Favourites include Scotch fillet with a peppercorn, mushroom or garlic cream sauce, lambs fry and bacon, and lamb shanks.
But RSA manager Chrissy Keith says it’s still hard to beat their deep fried fish and chips – made with fresh snapper direct from Leigh Fish. Chrissy adds it’s not necessary to be a member of the RSA to dine at Gunners.