Foodie Finds

The Bay of Plenty’s own food guru, Cherie Metcalfe is a trained chef, founder of the hugely successful Pepper & Me, and author of two cookbooks. So who better to be our crusading culinary correspondent, sniffing out the hottest spots and tastiest morsels in town.

The Bay of Plenty’s own food guru, Cherie Metcalfe is a trained chef, founder of the hugely successful Pepper & Me, and author of two cookbooks. So who better to be our crusading culinary correspondent, sniffing out the hottest spots and tastiest morsels in town.

Every week I get the same question: “I’m coming to the Bay, where do I eat?” So I’ve put together all my faves, including the dishes I consider stand-outs, to make your dining decisions super simple!

Our Place’s culinary correspondent Cherie Metcalfe.

Brunch and Lunch

The General (MT)

The General has a staple menu that hasn’t changed much over the years — and that’s not a bad thing! The ‘Because’ is one of the best classic Bennies you’ll find, and ‘Girl next door’ (smashed avo with roti and seeds and such) is always a winner. The kids menu is brilliant, and you won’t find parsley sprinkled on the kids eggs (an amateur mistake that has the potential to ruin breakfast for the whole family). There’s loads of space to park the pram. I’ve never had a bad egg at The General in seven years, so if you’re looking for a solid, classic brunch, these guys have your back.


Pearl Kitchen (Pap)

The coffee, the vibes, the service — all great. My favourite breakfast (and you’d best believe I’ve studied this down to a T) Is the ‘Pearl superfood’ (poachies, greens, avo, pesto ect) BUT you must add a rosti for #balance. Or, option two, if you can find a friend to go halves with, we find sharing an eggs Bene (mushroom/spinach option for me) followed by the waffles for breakfast dessert satisfies all the senses. The current waffle option is summer berries with white chocolate mascarpone, lemon curd and raspberry meringues. It’s an absolute delight of an experience.


‘Pearl Superfood’ from Pearl Kitchen

Henry and Ted (Pap East)

If you are around Pap East, Henry and Ted is the local. Dogs and children are welcomed and fed and watered well, which is always a lovely touch. I’ve got a great love for their savoury scones and fresh orange juice, and it’s the top pick from my smallest family members, with the mini iced chocolates sealing the deal. There’s something special about the bread they use here, so if it’s eggs on toast with a lush relish you fancy, make the commute out east.


Blended Deli & Eatery (Sandhurst)

Bit of a destination spot, but we finally have a deli bringing the delicious Melbourne and Sydney trends to our wee town. EPIC and very affordable sandos — you’ll find the classics like Reuben, Cubano, salmon, breakfast, chicken katsu, egg and tuna avocado. Choose if you would like them on a bagel, pide or brioche and add pickles and chips to complete the experience. Breakfast on a pide was my favourite, or if it’s lunch vibes I would go with the Reuben.


Classic Reuben sando from Blended Deli;

Elizabeth Cafe and Larder (Tauranga)

I think people overlook this spot as the corporate team has it filled during the week, but if you are in Tauranga Central, Elizabeth Cafe has the best brunches and coffee! The Turkish eggs are the best in town, and the big brekky is second to none. Special mention goes to the relish, the Elizabeth rosti, and the marinated feta! Yum.



Piknicka (Tauranga)

The fit-out at Piknika is the first thing that will impress, followed closely by the drinks menu and flawless service… and then the food will come out! There’s something on the menu for everyone, whether it’s mum-and-dad classics (prawn cocktails and eye fillet) or shared small plates for girls night (fig and walnut baked brie, honey and tabasco fried chicken) The duck liver parfait here is one of the best I’ve ever eaten, and, pro tip, always save room for the semifreddo with hazelnut and salted praline. Leave the kids at home for this one, take your time and savour the menu bit by bit!


Sugo (Tauranga)

Sugo has been my favourite go-to pasta spot for a few years now — there’s something about getting a tin of anchovies to smother on all my food that will never get old. Even if you are in the 90 per cent of the population who does not dabble in the anch, here’s three reasons to get to Sugo. 1. It opens at 5pm and does the best kids cheese pizza in the region, so if you are dining with sprogs in tow, it’s chef’s kiss. 2. Prawn & nduja tagliatelle, cherry tomato, lemon cream sauce. 3. Red wine-braised venison ragu, pappardelle, parmesan with cherry and rosemary. Enough said?


Lantern (Papamoa)

My local, and the best fusion food in the Bay (in my humble opinion). Lantern’s a bloody good long-lunch vibe with epic cocktails — the Ginger Ninja is my fave way to kick off a nice casual low-key afternoon! They are kinda famous for their prawn toasts and tuna bites so make sure to get a few of those to try, and I love the som tam salad, and both curries. Roti as well, of course. I’ll admit, I’ve never made it to dessert here as the ginger ninjas usually lead me astray, but I’m sure they are lovely.


Fife Lane Kitchen + Bar (MT)

Quite special for us to be able to boast having one of the top 100 steakhouses in the world on our doorstep! You need to book a week or so out at Fife, so make sure you have your life organised and get it in the diary. You’ll also need your credit card, but I tell you what she’s worth it! I’ve tried most of the entrées and desserts and while they are nice, it’s all about the meats. Put your focus on getting a few stunning cuts of beef (scotch, tri tip and bavette are my faves) and load up on sides (roast pumpkin with feta, portobellos with blue cheese, cos and parmesan salad) and add on all the extra sauces — horseradish mousse, Béarnaise, peppercorn. A side of fries to mop up all that’s left on your plate won’t go amiss either! Epic selection of reds too. Perfect for a special date night — don’t even think about taking kids.


Eye fillet with purple kūmara puree and pinot jus from Fife Lane Kitchen + Bar.

Solera (MT)

Solera is officially my favourite dinner in the Mount. Especially in winter! The moody dark fit-out is so cosy in the cold and wet, and the red wine menu just sings to me. The chef’s menu is the way to go here. $75 per head and you will get a stunning selection of snacks, small plates, vegetables and a main. Everything on the menu is innovative, whilst still being delicious and filling. My favourite bites were the ‘Fish & Chips’ (tuna, potato pave) and the ‘Paua’ (creamed paua, choux pastry, squid ink). The wagyu beef skewers were out the gate. The chef’s menu doesn’t have a dessert but add on the chocolate bowl and you’ll get the complete experience. I think Solera is actually the culinary gem of the region, don’t miss it.


Pāua profiterole (choux pastry, creamed pāua, squid ink crackling and pickled pāua) from Solera.

Alma (Omokoroa)

Ok, so it’s a bit of a drive to Omoks, but hear me out. There’s a giant playground downstairs, so you can watch your kids have the time of their lives from the balcony, while you sip on Prosecco and enjoy all of our Italian favourites. Burrata, carpaccio, arancini, crudo, anchovies, oysters, handmade pasta and spectacular pizza. All the good things in life, whilst being a great parent at the same time. Two birds, one stone.


Cheese board with a twist from Alma: three-cheese tortellini served on a gin lemonade-infused beurre blanc with fresh figs, pear, kiwifruit and roasted walnuts.

Honourable mentions

Best burger

Palace Burger

The classic cheeseburger with a side of saucy buffalo wings and cheesy loaded fries is a Sunday-night staple. If you are hungover, this is your heaven.


Palace cheeseburger and chicken burger.

Best hidden gem

Umami, Pyes Pa

The most random spot, Umami is located in the Pyes Pa shops. If you are in the area make sure you try their incredible menu of fusion delights. No outdoor vibe so perfect for winter to come in and huddle up. Best salt ‘n’ pepper squid in town.


Best takeaway pizza

Leo’s Pizza

The square slices of handmade dough are like no other. I stick with the simple cheese or pepperoni pizzas, but do not miss the side of mashed potato balls stuffed with cheese and jalapeño, crumbed and deep-fried. YOLO.


Best dumplings

Dumpling Delight

This could be mistaken for a dairy from the outside, but if you have a hankering for dumplings, Dumpling Delight is bringing the K Road vibes to Wharf St. It’s not fancy, just delicious and authentic. Faves are all the dumplings, spring onion pancakes and Szechuan beef brisket noodles. Drench it all in black vinegar and chilli oil. LUSH.

Best croissant

Pocket Bakery

I’m going to make a bold call and say that these are the best croissants I’ve ever eaten in my life. They are in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and only open Wednesday and Friday mornings, but those fresh, warm, sourdough, all-butter croissants straight out of the oven are absolutely to die for. You’ll find these beauties at the markets as well.