The Definitive Guide To Luxury Dining In Auckland
Food is often at the forefront when nourishing the soul, or toasting to success and celebration. Luckily, indulgent dining is bountiful in New Zealand’s City of Sails.
Whether you’re in the mood for a long lunch in a courtyard filled with dappled sunlight, or dinner in an intimate establishment, you don’t need to venture far to whet your appetite. These are some of the best Auckland foodie experiences:
Its namesake is inspired by the Italian phrase “by hand” so it’s no surprise every dish here is lovingly constructed. Just one of the many dining options in the historic Britomart precinct, Amano stands out with an assortment of dried flowers adorning the ceiling.
This season’s signature dishes include crayfish pulsante pasta and chargrilled lamb. The wild-caught market fish is always a winner; less popular species often feature on the menu to ensure all are equally utilised in sustainable fashion. True to its word, local grains are transformed into hand-crafted pasta in the on-site flour mill while bread sold in the Amano Bakery is made by hand. Pick up a croissant and coffee for breakfast from the French viennoiserie range.
66-68 Tyler Street, Britomart Place
Gusto at the Grand
Amongst the lively Federal Street dining precinct is the rustic and welcoming Italian restaurant Gusto at the Grand sitting within the SKYCITY Grand Hotel. The menu, designed by chef Sean Connolly, showcases pasta made in-house and risotto prepared from scratch the minute you order. Watch the chefs in the open-style kitchen garnish dishes with lashings of parmesan grated from big blocks of cheese on display; works of art in their own right.
The orgy of mushrooms with South Auckland’s Clevedon buffalo ricotta gnocchi melts in the mouth while the octopus carpaccio with capers, shallots and chilli teases the taste buds. Catch up with friends for brunch and choose from ricotta pancakes and quinoa porridge on the equally-enticing breakfast menu.
90 Federal Street
Inside MASU, you’ll be hit with the colourful and eclectic energy that Asia is so loved and known for. An archway of pink cherry blossoms shrouding the entranceway welcomes guests into this effortlessly classy Japanese restaurant by chef Nic Watt, of highly acclaimed Zuma and Roka fame.
Also down Federal Street, you can dine in front of the kitchen where chefs cook over an open charcoal grill. Dishes are designed to be shared with the yaki gani (king crab leg with smoked wasabi lime butter) and the shiro miso pavlova with guava chilli sorbet among highlights. Restaurant manager, Fumi Nakatani, is New Zealand’s only certified sake educator. Learn from the best and pair food with the impressive range of traditional sake stocked at the bar.
90 Federal Street
The Sugar Club
It’s easy to see why The Sugar Club is often reserved for super-special occasions. Balanced more than 50 floors above Auckland at the top of the Sky Tower, this renound establishment by chef Peter Gordon quite literally takes dining to a whole new level. Tables offer views across the city and harbour, and the food is just as breath-taking.
Choose from the a la carte or tasting menu, and opt to have wine matched. Local and sustainable produce is the ethos here from Mt Cook alpine salmon and Hauraki Gulf fish, to Taupo lamb rack and wild shot venison. Enjoy bespoke cocktails just in time to watch the city begin to sparkle in an enchanting lightshow as the sky transcends to darkness.
Level 53, Sky Tower, 72 Victoria Street W
Sidart and Sid at the French Café
Ponsonby’s Sidart showcases progressive Indian fine dining using fresh New Zealand produce. Degustation dishes offer black pepper crab and eggplant, and lychee with honeydew, milk and cardamom.
At sister restaurant, Sid at the French Café in Eden Terrace, you’ll enjoy a tasting menu of cured trevally, cannelloni of crab, and more. Masterpieces encompass the notion of ‘art on a plate’ like no other so it’s hard to resist the urge to Instagram every dish before consuming.
Sidart: Three Lamps Plaza, Ponsonby
Sid at the French Café: 210 Symonds Street, Eden Terrace
Soul Bar & Bistro
Brunch or a long lunch has become quite the Auckland religion. And Soul Bar & Bistro fits the bill perfectly. Overlook yachts moored in the marina virtually on the restaurant’s doorstep with a glass of champagne in hand. It’s said every city needs a soul and it’s here, among the bustle of Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, where you’ll be sure to discover plenty of it. Expect to find classics salt and pepper squid and west coast whitebait fritters on the menu.
What’s the perfect match for champagne? Oysters, of course. And Soul’s fresh shucking station serves a delicious range of the succulent seafood including wild Bluff oysters from Foveaux Strait at the bottom of the country, and Te Matuku oysters from nearby Waiheke Island.
Viaduct Harbour, corner of Lower Hobson Street and Customs Street West
Speaking of classic courtyards, you can’t go past Prego for a celebratory lunch or dinner. The popular walk-in spot is found down iconic Ponsonby Road where you’ll be rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of Auckland in the sunny patio. Serving traditional Italian dishes since 1986, it’s become a real staple for locals and visitors – plus the food is guaranteed to be darn good.
Sit at the bar by the fire during cooler weather and enjoy the Prego masterpieces: melt-in-the-mouth calamari fritti or linguine alla marinara with prawn, mussels, cockles and tuna cooked with white wine, garlic and chilli.
226 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
World-class food doesn’t cease once you’ve left the city’s shores. Arguably one of the best spots in Auckland is Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Home to beautiful beaches and plush vineyards, Waiheke can be reached by a short ferry journey from downtown Auckland, or by helicopter or seaplane.
Among the scattering of delectable restaurants is Tantalus Estate; a light-filled space overlooking picturesque vines. A menu staple is the twice-cooked pork belly accompanied with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The tantalising salmon with cultured sour cream, elderflower and shallots is another firm favourite. Choose from the selection of award-winning wines harvested a stone’s throw away from where you’ll sit sipping it.
70-72 Onetangi Road, Onetangi, Waiheke Island
Dominion Road eateries
An Auckland foodie experience wouldn’t be complete without a culinary adventure down the iconic Dominion Road. So while not a specific establishment as such, it’s still worth a mention. The thriving food scene is made up of a vibrant assortment of eateries – predominately dishing up Asian cuisine – reflecting the city’s ever-expanding cultural landscape.
Think cheap and cheerful, but oh-so-delicious steaming bowls of noodles, stir-fries, dumplings, spicy salads, bubble tea and more. Go on, dare to taste the rich and diverse flavours of Auckland.
(Lead image: Amano / Babiche Martens)
Published 01 May, 2019