Charlotte’s Kitchen is a newcomer in the Bay of Islands dining scene, and it’s well worth checking out.
The location isn’t immediately obvious: you walk down the pier at Paihia where the ferries and tour boats operate from, and the restaurant’s tucked in behind there.
Look for the eye-catching signage:
It’s very well worth the trip down the pier, as the decor of the restaurant is beautiful: modern and stylish, but also homely and welcoming. It’s just as nice for a romantic meal for two, as it is for a big group of friends to get together.
Of course, being situated at the end of the pier makes for an amazing view! Considering that New Zealand is surrounded by ocean, there are surprisingly few ocean-front restaurants and cafés. So the location of Charlotte’s Kitchen – not just next to the water, but above it – is a real gem.
Charlotte’s Kitchen is a great place to enjoy the colourful Bay of Islands sunsets, with something yummy to toast the end of the day. Being on the east coast, you won’t see the actual sun dipping behind the horizon, but the colours in the sky are no less dramatic and vivid.
It would be rude not to toast such a nice sunset – it was a Friday when we visited after all!
Before I go on to talk about the food, there’s one more thing I want to mention about the decor. Check out the photo below – yes, it’s a bit of a weird photo, but I want to show how the restaurant owners have considered customers’ comfort all year round.
There are heat lamps for winter, and it was very pleasantly warm on the cold autumn evening when we visited. I loathe being cold when I’m out and about, so Charlotte’s Kitchen get a nice big seal of approval from me!
Then, do you see the white slats in the photo? They’re aluminium ceiling louvres, which allow the ceiling to be opened up on a warm summer’s day. How glorious is that?! You get the whole outdoor experience, whilst sat in absolute comfort. Plus, the plastic windows can be rolled up too. I love it!
The food at Charlotte’s Kitchen
The food at Charlotte’s Kitchen is… interesting.
The pizzas (cooked in a real pizza oven) look amazing, and are what I’ll go for next time I visit.
There’s a wide range of “nibbles” (as they call it) on the menu, i.e. starters/entrées, with NZ seafood plus some Mediterranean-style dishes.
The bit where it gets interesting is the non-pizza main courses: there are just 4 options here. Or, you could choose “mains for sharing” – a novel concept, but one that relies on everyone wanting to eat the same thing! We saw some of these being served up and the portions look massive!
So yeah, the main course options (other than the pizza) are limited.
We both chose the oven-roasted Hapuka (fish), with spiced lentils, charmoula egg plant and lemon saffron Mahoe yoghurt. The meal was okay, but just not the ideal combination flavour-wise and texture-wise.
We’ll definitely be back to Charlotte’s Kitchen – the location, décor, scenery and efficient service make this a winner. And next time we’ll be trying the pizzas. 🙂
For more information, see: http://www.charlotteskitchen.co.nz/