Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I have driven past Greenshades cafe every weekend this year and thought it looked rather night. I had also been told many times by my elderly neighbour that I really should go there for dessert and coffee one day as it is "beautiful"! was the day to see what it was like. You know that feeling of thinking you know what something will be like before you go there, and then when you actually DO go there, it isn't like what you think at all? Thats how I felt today in a good way. Greenshades used to be a nursery, but is now mostly a cafe with a few plants and statues for sale. It makes for a really nice atmosphere to enjoy a meal. I had also been told they had a great play area for the kids, so it was on my list for a summer day visit, but thinking it might just be another bland nursery cafe, it often got shunted to last position when another option came up. I was nicely surprised. As you enter, you are greeted with potted plants, and some really amazing statues, large and small from metre high marble horses, to little chubby boys pee'ing! All are interesting and are also for sale. From here you can't see the seating, but you can hear the clinking of crockery and cutlery around the back of the building. So, we followed the noice and entered the bar which was cosy and sophisticated. Antiques were dotted around, mixed with modern paintings, more statues, large quartz displays and a fireplace smouldering in the corner. There wasn't a real theme, but everything was a little bit out of the ordinary. There was a few people inside eating and enjoying the cocooning effects of the room, but most were enjoying the winter sunshine and eating outdoors. We were met by the hostess who led us outside. There you have a choice of tables on the verandah overlooking the burbling urn of water, or tables down on the terrace surrounding the water feature which the lad was pleased to find was filled with small fish. Although the tables are under the green painted lattice, there are lots of sunny spots to choose from and many tables were full which is a great sign mid-week. I overheard more than one table-full being welcomed back by the waitress, so the diners obviously keep coming back (another good sign!). In the corner under the shade of some huge leafy trees, and in full view of all tables (a plus when you have smaller kids trust me) there was a large, well laid out set of play equipment with 3 slippery dips and soft fall all enclosed with a child-latched fence. All you needed to do was lock 'em in and leave 'em! The tables were handsome wooden slats, but the chairs were very un-stylish, albeit practical, plastic moulded numbers. Because of the lovely surrounds I could forgive them that! The menu was quite a surprise, it had a lot of basics, but was still interesting and varied - the quality was in the detail. Schnapper Tempura, 700g steak, Home made pies with mash and peas, Veal Scallopini, were on offer with a comprehensive specials board. Alternatively, you could have a range of foccacias, turkish bread or wood fired bread rolls with lots of nice fillings. The childrens menu was the usual, fish and chips, or chicken nuggets and chips. Both for $9.90. I decided I needed a King Prawn linguine with baby spinach, fresh tomato and red sauce $21.50. I was asked if I wanted a little parmesan and pepper and with this it was really delicious and light. The lad loved it, and so did I. The portions were quite substantial though so come hungry, or adjust your ordering. The lad had the chicken nuggets, which didn't look too appetising I have to say. The fresh pieces of crumbed chicken were nice enough, but looked a little too brown against the anemic chips. All tasted fine, but I think sometimes the kids meals don't get enough attention in many places, and most mothers don't taste them, so I'm not always happy about ordering them. I can understand this as there are certainly times I've paid for a full meal for a hungry child (so they've said) only to have them eat 3 chips and leave the rest which as a chef must be very defeating. The lad gobbled one nugget before I could photograph it, so all was not lost! A range of wines, beers, smoothies, fruit frappes were on offer to accompany all flavours, we had the banana smoothie and usual strawberry milkshake. The staff were really lovely and helpful and their chattiness just added to the enjoyement of this busy but relaxed place. I can imagine it being absolutely packed on a summers day, with the huge shade trees making it a haven from the heat. With a quick play for the firstborn, and a quick rest from my main for me, we were hit with the dessert menu. Now, as a casual mid-week lunch, I would not normally be tempted to have a desert. Neither time nor tummy would allow it usually...HOWEVER, when faced with a pretty little lacey printed menu offering a tempting array of pancakes, biscotti, cakes and desserts.....well......I was defeated! I had real trouble making a decision, but decided on the Rasberry bliss meringue. How could I resist ? It arrived with a golf-ball sized dob of king island cream (how civilised!), but as I mentioned before, the helpings are make sure you are hungry! I did manage to polish it off with the help of the lad, but felt like a roly poly ball all the way home and I still don't know how I got my seat belt done up for the trip. Very delicious! The meringue was light and brittle, not too sweet, the centre was gooey enough and the rasberry coulis was really tasty and complimented the sweet of the meringue beautifully. Most of the cakes were $9.50 so well priced for the serving size and quality. This would be a great place to stop for afternoon tea, and is very very busy all day Sunday so it is advisable to make a booking. They also do dinners and functions and I really think it would be a fantastic venue for a large family party, especially in summer where the kids can run around and the older folk can enjoy the balmy night outdoors. Nice food, nice atmosphere, nice staff, what more can you want? You can find Greenshades Cafe at 353 Galston Road, Galston PH 9653 1500. Lunch 7 days, Dinner Friday and Saturday nights. Happi eating!


  1. I love this place, my nephew works there! Agree it is the BEST venue when the weather's warmer for large family parties as the kiddies can take off into the play area and leave the grownups to enjoy a very sophisticated Italian menu in gorgeous surrounds. You should see the crowds on the weekend! Glad you've discovered it!

  2. You find the best places! So picturesque and large servings? Sounds like it would fit the bill for Mr NQN and I!

  3. Mothers Day Luncheon 2010
    Greenshades Café Galston

    Vince the restaurant owner, asked my two young sons and my husband and I to leave the restaurant because we had informed the waitress our food was cold ,which was at best just tepid warm.

    We did not request new meals, however, my husband suggested the meals to be 'zapped' in the microwave.
    Vince put his hand on top of the food, mumbled something, looking unhappy, retreated to the kitchen. We assumed he was unhappy with his chef sending out cold food...!!

    Ohh no.........

    Vince the owner then approached the table and said (with attitude) that the original temperature of the meals was the best he could do, my husband asked what does that mean..?? He just repeated the same sentence twice more, and walked off.

    Our table was then ignored for a good few minutes whilst all of us sat in amazement that this man could be so rude.
    We decided this must be a joke until my husband asked if he was for real, to which he replied " just take the bottle of wine and leave" the wine by the way was a cheap bottle, which was priced at around $36.00 on his menu.

    As our family sat absolutely stunned by this dreadful treatment, we were accused by Vince of complaining every time we eat at his restaurant.
    Hubby and I were there two weeks ago with friends with no complaints, and also last Mothers Day with no complaints, hence Vince was happy to take our money then.

    I believe he was trying to find an excuse for his behavior, as by now quite a few tables were listening to the exchange of words, and Vince accusing us of being serial complainers was his only defense for his despicable actions.

    I have heard of other patrons complain of the owners attitude but had not personally encountered this until Mothers Day Lunch 2010.

    In my opinion this was absolutely disgraceful and I feel he should be ashamed of himself for spoiling my, and my children' s day when taking their mother out to a Mothers Day lunch.

    My son’s have spent two days apologizing to me for this mans arrogance..... God love was not their fault ......

    Please warn your friends, this was an embarrassing situation and would hate for someone else's special day be completely spoilt should they encounter Vince’s wrath at our local restaurant Greenshades.

    Please be careful if you dare to complain in this mans restaurant., you could end up hungry and being asked to leave.

    And yes...we did leave.......... dumbfounded and hungry, without the cheap bottle of wine.


    P.S Let me know if you have a restaurant recommendation for next year, preferably somewhere they won’t throw you out if you have a complaint.

  4. My family and I have dined at Greenshades for over 2-3 years, probably once a month or so. The staff have always been very attentive and friendly, but most importantly genuine. I took my wife there for her 40th birthday and the Greenshades staff were wonderful to us.

    My philosophy in life is that if it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it is probably a duck. I have seen Vince and the rest deal with us and other customers for years, and have never seen anything like the previous poster alleges. Therefore the problem methinks lies with the poster.

    I suspect the attitude and approach of the poster is the real problem. If I owned a restaurant, I would be incensed at being asked to microwave food - sure if it is on the cold side it can be warmed up, but microwaved? Bleh.

    And the comments on the wine speaks volumes. Wine in restaurants is normally 1.5 to 2 times the price of a bottle shop. Because the restaurant is there to make a profit (shock horror!) and they are providing ambience and surroundings so they have the right to make profit on the food and wine they serve. And the wine on the menu is not top of the range, but the right selection for the menu. I would not for a second hesitate to pay $36 for a decent NZ Sav Blanc, which is what I buy there.

    That the poster is unaware of this shows that they have no idea, that they ask the owner to microwave food shows they have no decorum and would probably have been better off going to McDonalds.

    Please don't let this person's anonymous post turn you away from a warm, friendly restaurant with good ambience, food and wine, run by genuine people.

  5. My wife and I love this place. The food is always top quality, the service is good even on the busiest day and sitting outside on a warm day is just heaven. It isn't cheap but most good things are aren't. As for Vince I have never experienced anything other than pleasantness from him and his staff. Actually we are taking a very good friend out for lunch in a couple of weeks time and we both agree that Greenshades is the only place to go. A word of warning though - the desserts are addictive!

  6. Oh my, Trevor Buchanan, what a snob you come across as.
    I got the impression that Angie and her family were upset at the offer of a mere bottle of wine as compensation for the lack of a hot meal. Vince was likely having a hard time keeping up with the Mother's Day rush and it sounds to me that he has failed to keep his emotions in check, and his customers satisfied.
    However I am sure if it was a regular customer such as Mr Buchanan or Mr Camlett who received the rogue luke-warm plate, this Vince fellow's attitude would have been entirely different. I have seen many times the differences in treatment between 'regulars' and 'new' customers, the result being a polarized attitude within the wider community towards the establishment.
    This is indeed a unique and lovely venue, with decent food, but yes I have endured Vince's rudeness myself, unfortunately. He also tried to intimate that I had complained about something on a previous lunch which was not at all true. However I will not hold a grudge and continue to visit.

  7. Interesting reading... I had a different experience but was just as annoyed by it. We took friends to Greenshades for our first visit there as it had been highly recommended. I have two well-behaved little girls who at the time were 6 and 3. Unfortunately, due to the rainy weather, we had to sit inside and my little girls couldn't play in the play area. Having little to do, I spotted some pencil crayons and colouring in pages which they obviously keep on hand for the children. I asked the waitress if we could have some for the girls and she replied that, because we were sitting at a marble top table, the children would not be allowed to colour in where we were. Whaaaaat??? It's not texta - it's pencil crayon? I left it at that but was rather annoyed. A while later, I took the girls to the toilet, and walked past another marble table identical to ours where two little boys were happily colouring in with the restaurant's pencil crayons and pictures. I was fuming. Maybe they were 'regulars' too? Funny - I couldn't tell you what the food was like or even if I enjoyed the dessert. All I remember about that experience was that my two quiet, well-mannered little girls were treated unfairly. Doesn't say much in my books...