My mother has a competitive cities disorder. Despite being a very keen and open minded traveller who would probably move to Paris before you could shout ‘profiterole’, she has a borderline obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to her hometown and my city of birth, Auckland.
Did I know it was sunny in Auckland when it was raining in Sydney? and look at how much cheaper avocados are this year compared to Australia.
Poor Auckland, I left town at the dawn of the millennium, trading it up for artsy Wellington, cool factor London, then show pony Sydney. Auckland with it’s endless sprawl of suburbs got about as much positive feedback from me as Tony Abbott’s immigration policies.
So when my mother recently started up with competitive talk on the Auckland restaurant scene I admit to paying about as much attention as I do the local Jehovah’s Witness who handouts out pamphlets at my local train station.
Well, I’m not about to start door knocking on Saturdays but I will admit that the Auckland restaurant scene has really turned a corner. With the creation of food and drinking hubs around the inner city, such as Britomart
, the Wynyard Quarter
and the latest kid on the block, Ponsonby Central
, the culinary scene is really having a moment. Here are some recent highlights if you decide to pay the 10th best city in the world a visit in 2014
(according to Lonely Planet). See, sometimes I do listen Mum.
meatballs for everyone
So many things to love. Firstly the menu is all meatballs. A long favourite of mine in NYC has been the meatball shop
, so I was beside myself to see an equally good concept in Ponsonby. Kudos to Auckland who seem to be ahead of this food trend compared to Sydney. Some tough decisions, choose your meatball (beef, vege, festive turkey and cranberry) followed by your sauce, then finally the big call – your side (mash, polenta, spaghetti, risotto). The watermelon and gin cocktail was a little watery but we let it slide after the spotting of hometown gal and pop megastar Lorde
, who casually sat at the table next to us. Credit to Aucklanders, no one seemed to look up from their meatballs, aside from this tragic. I’ll never be royal.
meatballs in neon
Royal spotting, look closely and it’s New Zealand’s biggest deal, Little Lorde
Fun with cheese, who could say no. Great for brunch or lunch, from grilled cheese sandwiches to polenta crumbed labdah with grilled aubergine and a dollop of Manuka honeycomb. Yes please.
Cheese for everyone
It wouldn’t be a food establishment without a Mexican right now. Despite a bit of Latino fatigue the trend shows no sign of waning popularity with diners. This place has a real homemade taste to it and the tacos are made with love. From the fresh fish and pomegranate tacos to a tuna, mango, red chilli and ginger ceviche. Muy bien.
Britomart, Auckland Central
Up a narrow steep staircase is Ostro, the latest restaurant from kiwi foodie and Michelin-starred chef Josh Emmet
. After trying his Queenstown restaurant Rata
last year I was already an Emmet groupie and Ostro did not disappoint. This gorgeous structure is all sleek lines, big windows and husky interiors. Overlooking the industrial ports of Auckland, a fairly unattractive part of town on a good day, the huge cargo ships and containers that face diners become part of the urban furniture.
The line caught snapper with almonds and fresh fennel was amazingly fresh, light and delicious. It just had to be offset by the less healthy twice cooked herb fries. Amazeballs.
A cruise ship free view at Seafarers
Seven dollars for a Popsicle, I was a little sceptical. Homemade mango gelato with coconut and pralines, this was no paddle pop. Milse is a narrow desert bar that looks like something straight out of the Marais (with better air quality).
This ain’t no paddle pop
I’ve been a fan of this place since I first spotted its colourful prints at the armchair collective in sydney
. It’s Australian presence seems to be growing so was excited to discover a popup store in britomart.
Other designers worth checking out include Kate Sylvester
, Karen Walker
and Juliette Hogan
Citta dinner plate envy
Fort Lane, Auckland City
in a Victorian theatre that closed more than one hundred years ago everybody’s is inner city Auckland cool at its best. The Japanese tapas style restaurant is housed in a fantastic space with original high ceilings offset by minimalist design and lots of green fauna. Roxy, a wine bar next door Is also worth checking out.
Almost Everybody’s on holiday