A mostly plants eatery gets it mostly right for reviewer Kim Knight.
16 McDonald St, Morningside
09 869 8765
WE THOUGHT: 16 - Great
WE SPENT: $329.50 for five.
I'd hate to be a kale farmer.
You spend years growing the stuff for cattle, then Gwyneth gets hold of it and Beyonce puts it on her sweatshirt and Kevin Bacon says a day without it is like a day without sunshine. Suddenly kale is everywhere. Smoothies, chips and . . . oh God, Gwyneth PLEASE DON'T DO THAT. Suddenly kale is a punchline. Crinkly-leafed comic relief and the butt of every hipster food joke ever. Which would be okay, except now every hipster food joint ever has stopped cooking meat and started killing plants. All the plants. Except kale. Because yeah kale was cool but have you ever tried whole roasting a cauliflower?
There is no kale on the menu at Kind. Its cauli comes with miso, coconut feta, hazelnuts & beans. It is PB and GF and probably VG but I was in a broccolini kind of mood. It was so VG that I ordered a second plate of the $19 garlicky stems served on a clever schmear of smoked peanut butter and scattered with crunchy (but not tooth-breaking) fried chickpeas.
Kind is from the "mostly plants" school of cooking but there's enough pasta and cheese on offer that only the very carnivorous could complain. My guests included a 6-year-old and he ate with gusto. The bowl of mushroom tagliatelle with leek, spinach, black garlic, herb broth, pine nuts and salsa verde ($34) was only slightly smaller than his head. He didn't finish it, but he was keen to take the leftovers home for lunch.
All the dishes are made for sharing. The menu did not specify this and neither, initially, did our waitperson, because only a monster goes out for dinner these days and doesn't expect to split three tacos four ways.
We ordered a jackfruit tostado each ($7) and the base was lovely, in a kind of dense-corn-Pringles kind of way. I know jackfruit is pulled pork for vegans, but carpet could be pulled pork for vegans if you loaded it with enough BBQ, chipotle and cajun sauce. It was a flavour-profile too far for me (and there was definitely too much alfalfa sprout). Skip this unless you actually are vegan and get the camembert bruschetta on sourdough with shallot marmalade instead - $21 for a large plate of luxe mousetraps.
I'd previously been to Kind for brunch where it had wowed with its service. It was pretty accomplished on a Friday night too. Our waitperson happily adjusted the overhead heater for us, deposited extra serviettes without being asked, and indulged the 6-year-old's early inspection of the dessert cabinet. She also advised we probably wouldn't need two bowls of the tagliatelle but we were happy to prove her wrong.
Restaurant review: Little Bird Kitchen, Ponsonby
Reviewed: The Butcher's Son sprouts a vegan dinner menu
Vegetarian restaurants used to be so rare that if you built one the vegetarians would come. These days, they can be more discerning. I liked the food at Kind, but I also liked the feel of the place. Glass and greenery and weighty pottery plates. It was dinner in your inlaws' conservatory, if your inlaws like art galleries and documentary film festivals.
Richard had the butternut tortellini with a coconut cream sauce and cashew "parmesan" ($31). The pumpkin was bland and the coconut dominated - more chilli, please.
The table favourite was a surprise. I had been determined to dislike the fake zucchini spaghetti in provencal sauce ($25) which just read "diet" to me, but a tumult of lightly cooked greens and globs of oily, rich eggplant had been tied together with a tomato broth so intensely savoury I could have drunk it by the cupful. Superb.
Harry led the way back to the dessert cabinet where, once again, I failed to give up a nearly 50-year actual cream cheese habit in favour of fake cashew nut cream cheese. I need to stop ordering vegan cheesecake and stick to the chocolate brownies. Kind's were chewy, dense and not too sweet. The 6-year-old loved them and so did we.