Tag Archives: Albany

Crazy Mother

Mama Loco
219 Don McKinnon Drive, Albany

Just to clarify, my mum’s not really crazy. Well, I certainly wouldn’t be confessing to such things in a public forum. But, I’ll tell you what is crazy… Mama Loco. Get it? Crazy Mother … Anyway, this funky Mexican Restaurant is definitely wacky, but in a good and tasty way!

You’ll find Mama Loco located at the very end of the ‘food establishments’ on the exterior of the Albany Westfield Shopping Mall. Being big fans of Mexican cuisine, I’m surprised we hadn’t heard about this eatery before, so I’m super excited we stumbled across it.

Mama Loco Bar CelesteRevews

The Bar

Inside the decor is vibrant and quirky, with the most colourful bar I’ve ever seen, yellow ‘leaf’ chairs, and cheerful greenery on the walls .

Mama Loco Albany Celeste Reviews

Inside Mama Loco

Outside, on the sunny deck, they have huge wooden tables with deck chairs that you literally sink into (complete with a skull face cutout on the back of them, of course). Even the salt and pepper shakers are fun, along with the “Pure Death” hot sauce.

Mama Loco Salt & Pepper CelesteReviews

Piggy Salt & Pepper Shakers

Mama Loco were more than happy to create a vegetarian version of their burrito ($17.50).  It was ginormous, filled with salad, cucumber, re-fried beans, Mexican rice, corn and silverbeet. It was accompanied by home made corn chips, that were so good, I could have just feasted on chips alone.

Mama Loco Albany CelesteReviews

Vegetarian Burrito

The husband scoffed his Braised Lamb Quesadilla ($16.90), so it must have been good.

Mama Loco Quesadillas CelesteReviews

Braised Lamb Quesadillas

The staff were very friendly and helpful. Watching one waitress (who assures me she was born in stilettos  teetering around at a brisk pace while carrying a fully loaded tray of drinks was totally awe inspiring!

Check out their flavoursome menu (below) or download their smartphone app (Mama Loco). I did chuckle at their tongue-in-cheek term for happy hour.

Mama Loco Menu CelesteReviews

The Menu

In a Nutshell: Go! Eat! Enjoy! Yum!

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Ace Altura – Breakfast Detective

Altura Cafe

23 Douglas Alexander Parade, Albany

It’s no secret that I’m an Eggs Benedict fan. I often find pancakes too sweet, a big breakfast too big, and the husband makes a pretty decent ‘eggs on toast’ at home. So, when faced with a breakfast/brunch menu, I am drawn towards ordering Eggs Benedict.

It has taken a lot of detective work, and we’ve eaten quite a few average versions, and earlier in the year we thought we had found the best version in Thames. However, we recently discovered Auckland’s best take on this dish – introducing Altura Café.

Vegetarian Eggs Benedict by CelesteReviews

Spinach & Avocado Eggs Benedict (with sauces on the side)

Firstly, let me describe our egg-stra-special brunch. Consisting of English muffins, two perfectly poached eggs, and hollandaise, the secret was not only the scrumptious hash brown, but the most delicious pesto. Add spinach and a decent slab of sliced avocado, and my vegetarian version ($17.50) took me to breakfast heaven. Being the meat eater in our relationship, the husband happily scoffed his smoked salmon version ($18.50), and helped me finish off mine.

Altura Salmon Eggs Benedict by CelesteReviews

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

For those who aren’t Eggs Bene fans, there are many other tasty treats on the breakfast and brunch menu. As a lunch destination, the menu includes options such as; nachos, corn fritters, risotto, cajun chicken vege salad, or the scotch fillet.

This café is actually the home of Altura coffee, so you can watch them roasting the beans on site. Needless to say this is probably the reason my indulgent mocha, blended with Belgian chocolate ($4.80), was delicious. The coffee menu is almost as extensive and descriptive as their food offerings, with items such as, Affogato (double shot over rich vanilla ice cream), and flavoured shots on offer.

In a nutshell: Visit while hungry for maximum satisfaction. Plus, blinking good coffee.


The Wine Box Cafe

239 State Highway 17, Albany Village

The Wine Box Cafe

The Wine Box Café has provided us with a consistently great dining experience over the years, and after at least a three year absence, we were delighted with our recent visit over a long weekend.

On this particular occasion, we were seated in the covered outdoor area, complete with a roaring wood fire place, candles and fairy lights – very romantic ambiance.

To start the evening, we ordered a couple of breads. The Flower Pot bread was served in a terracotta flower pot, accompanied by three very tasty dips (my favourite being the creamy beetroot flavour), and was big enough to share between four. The garlic bread was delicious, oozing garlic and herbs.

Flower Pot Bread

Flower Pot Bread

My vegetarian fettuccine ($16.50) with mushrooms and spinach was full of flavour and very filling, while the husband, who wasn’t overly hungry, enjoyed a smoked chicken, avocado and cream cheese pizza ($18.50).

Vegetarian Fettuccine

Our dining companions opted for the more exotic tastes, ordering a kangaroo fillet, coated in pumpkin seeds and juniper berries with a kumara mash (poor Skippy), and the peppered scotch fillet, with a mushroom risotto. Both were suitably impressed.

The Kangaroo

As usual, we were all far too full to indulge in dessert – this seems to be a common problem that I really must do something about.

In a nutshell: Highly recommended, we’ve always had a fantastic dining experience.  Definitely worth a tip north.


A Brew in the Sun

New Brew

Corner Rosedale Road & William Pickering Drive, Albany

Enjoying a beer on a lazy Saturday afternoon is what a long weekend is all about, so during Easter we met up with friends at New Brew for lunch.

New Brew is an upmarket pub, with not only a great selection of beer, wine and cocktails (out of a teapot if you’d prefer), but as we were to discover, they also do really good food. I couldn’t decide between the tapas and lunch menu, so I ordered something off both.

Risotto Balls

Butternut & Haloumi Risotto Balls

The first dish was roasted butternut, haloumi and sundried tomato pesto risotto balls, served with a delicious tangy plum sauce and a small salad ($11.50). There were four decent sized balls, which were absolutely scrumptious, and my mouth is watering, just thinking about them.

Vegetarian Pizza

I also ordered the vegetarian pita pizza, topped full of roasted courgettes, butternut, capsicum, feta, mushrooms, and caramelised onion. The pizza base was very soft and it was a difficult balancing act to move each slice from pizza board to mouth without any mishaps.

Cajun Chicken Burger

Cajun Chicken Burger and Beer

The husband inhaled his Cajun Chicken Burger ($18.50), filled with streaky bacon, avocado, cheese and salad. The fat chips on the side were more like chunky seasoned roast potatoes – yum!

Our friends enjoyed the chorizo sausage and mozzarella risotto balls ($10.50), which are enough for a light meal in themselves, and a beef burger.

Wine Bottle Light Fitting

Wine Bottle Light Fitting

New Brew’s decor is modern, with high ceilings and interesting light fittings made from green bottles. They also have a private function area and a glorious outdoor dining area, where we spent our afternoon lazing in the sun.

We were all impressed with the food. It is not what you’d expect from traditional pub faire, and we will definitely be back to try out the rest of the menu.

In a nutshell: A very pleasant and extremely tasty way to spend an afternoon, with an interesting selection of vegetarian dishes.