Food review: How they fared

By Peter Calder, Olivia Green

Auckland nutritionist Olivia Green, and restaurant reviewer Peter Calder dish out their verdicts on hospital food

Lunch from Birthcare. Photo / Michael Craig
Lunch from Birthcare. Photo / Michael Craig

Olivia Green's review


The bowl of spinach ravioli with a wholemeal dinner roll on the side provides a good amount of carbohydrate but not a lot of vegetables apart from chopped tomatoes in the sauce and a cooked tomato served on top. A small amount of cheese provides a dairy serve with some protein and calcium, but also saturated fat. There is the equivalent of two pieces of fruit, chopped.

The meal,while providing some healthy grains and fruit, lacks balance due to the large amount of refined carbohydrate in the pasta, few fresh vegetables, as well as a lack of a high-quality, low-fat protein.

Birthcare (Three meals provided)

1. The pumpkin soup is served with two white, very salty dinner rolls. The only protein source appears to be the garnish of cheese in the side salad which is served with a creamy cheese and a light dressing. This salad, and the fruit salad provided with each of the Birthcare meals, provide up to four fruit and vegetable servings to complement each meal.

This meal lacks whole grains and does not have a significant protein source. The vegetable and fruit content is very high though, and fibrous due to the side salads.

2. The vegetable stack meal provides at least three serves of vegetables itself, including root vegetables in the potato cake (also providing carbohydrate), spinach and tomato on top, and the mushrooms on the side. The mushroom sauce is possibly quite high in fat. The melted cheese on top of the vegetables provided a little bit of protein and calcium.

Although possibly a little high in saturated fat, this meal is quite well balanced, providing a lot of vegetables and fruit and a well portioned amount of quality, fibrous carbohydrate from the meal as well as the side salads.

3. The open pita has a mint jelly spread on one side and hummus on the other, complementing the lamb, which makes up a decent portion of protein, with a few thin strips of the same cheese from the side salad. There is a little bit of fat left on one of the lamb slices. The salad filling in the pita provides a lot of variety of vegetables and substance to the meal.

A very well balanced meal with good proportions of fibrous vegetables and grains, and good quality protein (despite some saturated fat that is easy to remove if desired).


The mulligatawny soup provides some vegetables and rice, and the bread contains whole grains. Including the scone, there are four serves of carbohydrate in this meal. The cheese in the potato bake provides the only dairy and protein source in the meal. There is a side of fresh, undressed salad, making up about two serves of vegetables, and an apple.

While there is a decent portion of healthy fresh fruit and vegetables in this meal, and the carbohydrates are mostly whole grain and fibrous, the cheesy sauce seems high in saturated fat.

Peter Calder's Review

Restaurant reviewers - well, some of them, anyway - go to great lengths to remain incognito because they don't want special treatment.

So it's hard to know whether the lunches provided for my assessment had been tarted up for the occasion.

But with that proviso, they demonstrated the truth of the axiom that you get what you pay for.

The food from Birthcare in posh Parnell included such ingredients as brie, olives and garlic hummus; the patients at Middlemore, by contrast, make do with scalloped potato (in a bland but wholesome bechamel sauce) and an undressed salad of watery lettuce and unripe tomato.

That said, Ascot in leafy Greenlane served undistinguished tortellini and tomato sauce out of a packet, and some sliced fruit.

The spice in Middlemore's version ofmulligatawny, a curried soup of Indian origin, was virtually imperceptible and there was much more overcooked rice than carrot. But with two slices of fresh five grain bread it was perfectly adequate. A gala apple was past its best and a cinnamon scone was fairly stodgy.

Birthcare,which sent three alternative lunches, each to be eaten with the excellent salad and fruit salad, provided a creamy pumpkin soup. It was short on salt -doubtless for medical reasons - but the accompanying bread rolls were salty. A monster panini with three large slices of roast lamb was packed with fresh salad veg, including thin-sliced pineapple and bean sprouts.

A vegetable stack was moulded of potato, kumara chunks and cauliflower, and topped with a sauce of freshly cooked creamy mushrooms. On the whole, any of these three was as good a meal as one might expect in a cafe.

On balance, top marks go to Middlemore, for having the courage of its restrictions. It's a world leader in orthopaedics and hand microsurgery. It doesn't have to be a dining destination too.

- Herald on Sunday

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