Last month Central Auckland's dirtiest eating establishments were named.

Food grades in the former Auckland City region show 10 restaurants and cafes have received E grades, with 29 given a D grade.

The New Zealand Herald online asked readers if they were influenced by the food grading system. Nearly 13,500 readers responded and just over half said they used the rating to make a call about whether to dine there. Or not.

But to the every day diner, how do these places really stack up?


A few brave members of the online team have decided to put their bellies on the line and review all 29 of the D listers, revealing one a day for the month of September. D grade eateries are reviewed twice a year, according to Auckland Council. While they are subject to change, our list is correct as of the last week of August, 2013. If the grade is changed at the time of publication this will be made clear in the review.

So join us on our journey eating through the D list. Check in at lunch each day, read our review, and let us know in the poll if you have - or would - eat at the outlet.

Empress Garden Limited, 227 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay
We ordered: Combination Chinese vegetables with garlic sauce ($22.50) and fillet beef with honey black pepper sauce ($28). The menu was pricey, but the beef was tender and both dishes were full of flavour.

The vibe was: The big restaurant was empty on our lunch time visit so lacked the buzz of a bustling Chinese banquet. However, the crew seemed to be preparing for a busy evening round.

The décor looked: Like an impressive Chinese restaurant, quite quaint from the outside.

The service was: Aiming to please.

We left feeling: Really happy with the food we'd eaten and without the usual post-Chinese takeout belly.

We could see their D grade: Not until we sat down at our table and really searched for it. But it was there hanging by the till.

The most D-grade thing about it: There wasn't anything clearly D grade about this place.

We'd go back: With a big group of people so we could load the lazy Susan with a delicious Chinese banquet.