Written by Sarah Cone - The ASW Globalist
I last saw the New Zealand-based food writer and cookbook author Lauraine Jacobs in San Francisco, where she was promoting the launch of her new cookbook Everlasting Feast. She’s a globe-trotting darling of the food world -- her cookbook was purchased by the famed book collector Mark Cherniavsky for his collection, Charlie Trotter calls her “the high priestess of the international food and wine scene,” and I adore her writing about food even more than I like eating.
On my last trip to Auckland, I asked her where in Auckland a girl should eat. Her reply:
The French Café: The flagship dining destination for discerning Aucklanders that seems like it’s always been there. Under the ownership of Simon Wright and his wife Creghan for more than fifteen years, it’s been kept at the undisputable top of New Zealand’s dining scene, through continual attention and re-invigoration of the business by this talented pair.
Beautiful classically crafted food, tasting menus, fine wines, and superb service. A tight well conceived menu of seasonal produce.
Don’t miss the duck, any of the seafood choices, dishes straight from the courtyard garden or Simon Wright’s lovely desserts.
Kazuya: An oasis of style and sophistication where Japanese chef, Kazuya Yamauchi, delivers a French/European menu with distinct Japanese influence, and service straight from Tokyo.
With only 24 seats in fairly intimate spaces, this is a unique dining experience on the Auckland scene. I’d always choose the chef’s seasonal menu as I’d hate to miss his signature dish, Textures, which is a plate filled with more than thirty seasonal ingredients. Wine service here may be the best in the city.
The Depot: Chef Al Brown is a larger than life character who has given the city a fun, casual diner where truly unpretentious New Zealand food is delivered day after day from breakfast till late.
His raw bar is superb, and there are lots of fishy dishes and Kiwi classics. Wine is on tap (red or white?), as are the beers. The only draw back is no bookings, and an hour or two standing on the sidewalk drinking beer can be a killer while you wait for a table.
Soul Bar & Bistro: Sitting on the large flower be-decked terrace overlooking the inner viaduct with its fancy big boats is where everybody wants to be.
Owner Judith Tabron is a sassy clever gal who knows how to look after her customers, whether they’re the heavy hitters or passing tourists. Soul’s large menu emphasises fresh fish and seafood, some terrific shared plates, pasta, salads and excellent meat, including New Zealand grass fed beef and lamb.
On a fine day there’s nowhere better to be seen.
Ortolana: The pick of many good restaurants and cafés in the fashionable Britomart precinct downtown. It’s part of the Hip Group, recent star players in the hospitality scene, who have several cafés across the city and their own gardens and orchards.
Nothing is too complex here; it’s all squeaky fresh and simply conceived. No bookings but there’s always somewhere to have a drink nearby while waiting for a table.
Don’t miss their house-made yogurt and cheese, and if you need breakfast this will be the most original and delicious you could find, anywhere. And next door sister restaurant Milse serves a degustation dessert menu of perfect treats.
Sarah Cone is a venture capitalist and a world traveler, with homes in California, Uruguay, Argentina, New Zealand, and Italy. You can follow her travels on Flying Flocks.