07 April, 2007

New Zealand - Craypot

70 West End, Kaikoura; (NZ) 03 319 6027

When in Kaikoura, it’s all about the crayfish (the town’s name actually means ‘to eat crayfish’ in Maori). Every guidebook mentions it and nearly all the restaurants have their crayfish options, normally half or full serve, prominently displayed on the menu. So how to be sure you’re getting a good one and not just paying for the tourist gimmick?

Well first, there’s the price issue. Without knowing much about crayfish, it’s hard to settle on paying $NZ50 or more for half a crustacean before even sitting down in the restaurant. The accompaniments might help – some come as part of a seafood platter, others with roasted potatoes. We settled on the Craypot, which wasn’t the cheapest crayfish option in town at $NZ40 per half serve, but then again I was happy in this instance not to settle for cheapest!

Definitely a venue for seafood lovers, the Craypot menu featured both fish and chips and fish of the day, as well as salmon, crayfish, and a seafood platter for two, as mains. Non-seafood options were more abundant in the starters, with three salads and Moroccan Kofta on offer.

As pre-determined before we even left the hostel, I went for the Half Crayfish Thermidor, served with orzetto and green salad. SG went the fish and chips. And what a meal his was. Four huge battered pieces of fish on a mound of thick cut, beer battered crispy chips. The fish batter was almost like crusty bread, and the fish pieces themselves were very flavoursome. I was glad his serving was so enormous, as my half crayfish did little to satisfy a traveller’s appetite. The crayfish meat was like calamari in texture, but had a very mild taste – nothing that you’d be naming a town after! The orzetto (rice like pasta) was too bland an accompaniment to such a delicate dish – I would much have preferred some herbed potatoes as so many other restaurants were offering.

After a slightly disappointing main I was happy to go with a dessert, and we ordered the passionfruit cheesecake from our rather dispirited waitress. That provided an amusing aside – we waited sometime for our dessert to arrive, and then enquired of the manager, who promptly returned to ask if that was the ‘two passionfruit cheesecakes’ – which we interpreted as a sneaky way of confirming an otherwise missing order!

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