Herald rating: * * 1/2
Address: 2 Onehunga Harbour Rd, Onehunga
Phone: (09) 634 4264
Sometimes a girl needs to get out of her comfort zone and try something new. With this attitude I decide to pay a visit to a place that I've passed hundreds of times on my way to or from the airport - The Landing.
Situated under the sweeping Mangere Bridge, with its neon "seafood" sign glowing, I've often pondered what it would be like to eat there.
Having recently arrived back from Melbourne, where old pubs in the suburbs are being re-vamped and labelled "gastro pub" faster than you can say "lamb shank", I eyed up The Landing Seafood Restaurant and Bar with more keenness than usual.
The English know a thing or two about good pubs so I arranged for an Englishman friend of mine to join me.
Arriving at the old building (est. 1865) in the Onehunga wharf area, we could see it had had a recent re-vamp with a fresh lick of paint and some new signage advertising fancy bubbles. Promising.
The menu is weighted towards the sea but with good staples such as lamb shanks and the obligatory chicken and steak options.
Our waitress was a very gung-ho lass and honest to a fault.
When I asked if the scallops were from NZ she all-but scoffed "Oh no love" as though we don't get scallops here, let alone that we are in the middle of the scallop season.
Discouraged by her response I decided to try the traditional NZ shrimp cocktail with spiced Moroccan sauce. What arrived was a cocktail indeed - plump prawns and lots of them, piled high on shredded iceberg lettuce with the aforementioned Moroccan sauce that thankfully tasted the same as thousand-island dressing.
So far so good. Then came the surprise - pineapple. Tinned, watery and lots of it. I'm all for chefs stamping their mark on a dish but only if it works and in my opinion this was never going to.
When I asked what the chef put in his sauce to make it "Moroccan", our waitress again shot from the hip with "Oh, it's just a spice, love".
The Englishman chose the Thai fishcakes for his starter. These were home-made and marvellous. They were served with a tangy dipping sauce, full of the flavours of Thailand - fragrant kaffir lime, the heat of chilli and the saltiness of fish sauce.
The fish and chip main comes with fish of the day and tonight this is my favourite - gurnard. I adore the tasty, firm little fillets. The Landing's fish and chips don't disappoint with four fresh fillets enclosed in a light crispy batter.
The chips are wide and flat and have the appearance of being cut by hand. The accompanying salad, though nothing spectacular, was thankfully not drowning in dressing which I'm finding increasingly annoying these days - to the point where I become annoying myself by requesting salads with "dressing on the side please".
The Englishman goes for roast chicken on mash and what arrives is a well presented, roasted chicken supreme - that wonderful cut that consists of the breast with the juicy wing-bit still attached. It's a risky business roasting a breast, as it can dry out, but, as I'd learned from the shrimp cocktail, this chef didn't shy away from risk.
The breast was moist enough but was coated in a cinnamon jus. It was dark and sticky and slightly sweet but failed to work in my opinion. Too confusing for the tastebuds was my conclusion - but the Englishman didn't seem to mind. It was nestled on a creamy mash and salad came on the side.
The portions at The Landing are generous, so we needn't have ordered dessert but the raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake tempted us. What arrived was a standard, not made on the premises, slice of baked cheesecake with vanilla bean ice-cream. Nothing spectacular.
The meals at The Landing are satisfactory and the service is friendly enough, but we were left with the feeling that it just wasn't memorable in the way that some great pub food experiences can be, and it's priced on the high side for what you get.
At least I don't have to keep wondering every time I drive past now.
Cuisine: Seafood and other
From the menu: Thai fishcakes $17.90, traditional shrimp cocktail $14.50, roasted chicken on mash $28.50, fish and chips $23.90, raspberry cheesecake $10.90
Drinks: Fully licensed