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Open early 'til late, we serve fine food and beverages, both hot and cold.
You will find us at the Main Street end of the Downtown Mall, next to Copy King and opposite Native Soup.
Come and see us. Bookings not always essential.
Phone: (06) 358-FLAVOUR (06) 358-3528
A dinner booking was made over the phone, taken by a very friendly lady by the name of Kate. Kate asked me if there was any preference of a particular table, so I chose a table by the window. The booking was made for 6pm on a Wednesday night.
Wednesday night rolled around, and we arrived at Flavour Bistro. A waitress took us to our table, and water was poured for us immediately. We were left to ponder the menu. Flavour has a very varied selection of mains, most of which are around the $15 mark. Flavour also has a few selections of what I would describe as more 'gourmet' mains which are around the $25 mark. The 'gourmet' mains are served with a choice of salad or vegetables. All dishes on the menu sounded very appetizing, and I feel the menu caters to suit most people.
After deciding on a starter and main, we waited for a waitress to come and take our order. We poured another water, and waited some more. The restaurant was not at all busy - there were only two other tables taken. It seemed the wait was due to the waitresses being too busy chatting to a customer at the bar who was obviously a friend of theirs. After a good ten minutes one of the waitresses finally came back to take our orders. Pita with hummus to share for starter, and two mains - both $25 each.
Starter came out fifteen minutes later. Two waitresses brought plates, knives etc over without a word spoken. We felt very unwelcome. Toasted pita was tough and difficult to eat. Hummus and pesto very nice, good amount served. I was still eating my last piece of pita when our mains arrived. Very bad timing, in my opinion this is inexcusable in a restaurant. They could clearly see we were not finished, yet our meals were brought out anyway.
Onto the mains. They were presented beautifully on large white platters. I had ordered 'Pork Cutlets' with a side of vegetables. As soon as I cut into one of the cutlets I knew I was going to be disappointed. The pork was very tough and dry. I realise pork is a difficult meat to cook - but I feel it should not be too much to ask that a chef gets it right when you are paying good money.
My partner had ordered 'Beef Fillet'. He commented that it was not bad, however he had eaten much better beef fillet for this price in Palmerston North restaurants.
The side vegetables which were served with our mains were another let down. Cauliflower, zucchini and carrots - boiled to oblivion, completely overcooked. Mixed together, and put in a white bowl. Totally lacking in, well, everything. A nice hollandaise or dressing would have helped. Come on Flavour, I can boil my own vegetables at home - and do a better job to be honest.
I usually find it a reflection of a restaurant's care for its customers when waiting staff are instructed to ask how your meals are and whether they can get you anything else. We were not asked at Flavour Bistro.
What pushed us right over the edge was this. Halfway through our meals we noticed the CD was skipping. We continued eating; surely one of the waitresses would notice. Unfortunately for us, the waitresses were still chatting to their friends at the bar and could not hear it. I glanced at the table next to us, sure enough they had noticed the noise too. We listened to the skipping CD for the next 10 minutes while we finished our meal. A minor incident, but it was not pleasant for us.
It is a shame we could not stay for dessert, our ears had endured enough. While paying, my partner complained about the skipping CD. The waitress seemed very shocked and apologised. Our bill came to $59, no drinks or dessert. I feel this is a steep price.
We went elsewhere for dessert and enjoyed it immensely.
In my opinion, waiting staff are very high on the list of what makes or breaks a restaurant's appeal to customers. Waiting staff are representing the restaurant name; they should look and act professional, remain attentive, and be willing to do their utmost to please the customer. Flavour wait staff are lacking in these areas, and the food is mediocre. This combination equalled a ruined night for us, and we do not wish to return.
After many descriptions of the food from the previous reviewer and passing by this place I figured I needed to try some of it for myself. So when the suggestion was made to have dinner here, I jumped at the chance.
My friend and I entered the premises and were shown to our seats. The waitress came to explain the specials and take our drinks order. After a slightly extended time (our choice) we made our decisions on food from a wide range of particularly yummy sounding food. I chose a mild chicken curry, served with Basmati rice and a delicious cucumber and coriander yoghurt, while my companion had the Steak Serine.
A relatively short time later two plates of delicious looking food arrived at our table, making me salivate at the sight and smell in front of me. My first forkful of food was full of flavour. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the sauce had just the right amount of curry to taste and not overpower it. From the sounds of cutlery working on the meal and the sounds of food being enjoyed, I figured my companion had just as delicious meal as I did.
The combination of the music playing, good conversation and brilliant food made the time fly. Before I knew it I had finished my meal and was considering ordering dessert. A look at the menu made the choice of what to have a little difficult, but the mutual decision was reached to have a chocolate brownie with white chocolate mousse each. For me this proved to be my undoing, as I found it difficult to leave any of the rich chocolatey goodness on my plate. VERY yummolicious.
As a last thought, I need to mention the bathrooms. Unfortunately, they are a let-down, as they are rather cramped and have no room for disabled patrons.
Apart from that small gripe, a great place for a pleasant family dinner or to take that special someone. I fully intend to go back at least one more time to try some of the items I spied on the lunch-time menu.
Great job guys, I had a good time and will be back for more.
Having watched this place being rebuilt inside, and seeing the wonderful new decor only glancingly, I was really keen to get in here and try the place out... I finally got the chance to stop in for lunch, and I am really, REALLY glad I did.
Browsing through the lunch menu was an exercise is culinary torture... there was simply so many dishes that leapt out at me and scream 'PICK ME!'... oh, if only I had three stomachs. But, I had to make a choice, and so I chose the Steak Serine. This is a thin scotch fillet on a bed of seasonal greens, field mushrooms with a bearnaise sauce... all piled onto toasted ciabatta and topped with a home-made red onion jam. I thought it was reasonably priced at $16.90, however I skipped the fungus. I am not a mushroom fan.
As I tucked into the tower of food presented to me a mere 10 minutes later, I was greatly impressed by the flavours that not only stood out by themselves, but also combined well. The red onion jam deserves a special note, as it really took me by surprise. I was expecting something jelly-like and looking somewhat like clotted cranberry sauce. What was dished up was worlds apart... I won't spoil the surprise for you, but trust me, it's good stuff.
The steak was a little undercooked for my taste, however this was easily explained as my fault for not even thinking to mention that I like my steak medium. What was presented was medium-rare, a little too pink, but I am starting to appreciate the delicate flavours of scotch fillet NOT being cooked to the point where you could repair shoes with it.
I did wonder what this 'ciabatta' stuff was. It looked like toast-shaped crumpets really. When I asked one of the staff, he informed me that it was a oily, aerated bread... quite like crumpets in form and texture. He also claimed it made the best garlic bread, so I talked him into putting his money where my mouth was... and so he shot off to make me a sampler of garlic ciabatta bread. And he was right, it really does make a delightful garlic bread. A bit too oily for the taste-mood I was in at the time, but the flavour was so strong and rich, it was almost sweet!
After I had finished munching down this fine repast, I sat back to let it settle, and observed the bistro from a more de-focused perspective. The decor was dark, but not morbidly so. It was a nice break away from the harsh brightness you can find in most shops and cafe's. Very relaxing, and condusive to coversation with friends or business contacts. The light jazz playing added to this very nicely.
The staff were friendly, knowledgeable, and always hovering around to offer assistance or a top-up, but still quite unobtrusive. They just sort-of appear when you need them. The location has only one let-down and that is the availability (or lack) of easy parking. The closest parking spots are 'pay-&-display' and are usually full during the day, and at night are almost always full due to the movies. However, if you don't mind spending the little bit extra, you can park in the Downtown Parking Building... right on top of the mall. Can't get much handier than that can you.
Overall, I found myself very happy with the bistro, to the point where I went back the next day for another lunch. This time, I tested them on their ability to 'cook outside the square (menu)' and ordered steak, eggs and chips. I had to laugh when the meal arrived. They actually managed to make a rough'n'ready meal look gourmet! A bed of spicy shoestring fries, with a couple of scotch fillets balanced on top, with two fried eggs on top of the steak, and a small cup of garlic aioli on the side. A light garnish of greens and bingo... the most entertaining and delicious lunch indeed. Well done folks, top notch!
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