Restaurants & Bars 3

Auckland Fine Dining for Chowhounds (long)

Emily Cotlier | Sep 15, 200505:24 PM

Auckland recommendations in advance of the tourist season, part 2. These are recommendations for those who want good food, even the best, and aren’t afraid to pay for it. Most of these places have web sites. I did another post on budget recommendations for Auckland.

Spending some money, but not all of it ($20 - $35)
Most of these are too far to walk to from downtown, but they are within taxi distance.
• Barrique, formerly Seamart, downtown, corner of Fanshawe & Market Place – http://www.seamart.co.nz/barriques_me... Keeps getting recommended because it keeps being good.
• Empress Garden, Herne Bay, 227 Herne Bay Road – Call ahead to order a full or half Peking Duck. You won’t regret it. Also recommended: soups, ethereal fried rice, Peking dumplings and pan-fried pork buns. If you’re dining alone, go at lunchtime. Be warned, the décor is basic.
• Delicious Pasta, Grey Lynn, 472 Richmond Road – http://www.delicious.co.nz Home-made seasonal pasta, lots of vegetarian options and luscious house-made desserts. Dinner only. In contrast to Empress Garden, excellent for a solitary meal, if you get there early – can get crowded later.
• Gina’s Pasta and Pizza, Newton, 209 Symonds Street – http://www.ginas.co.nz/ When the Prada yacht team was competing in the America’s cup, this was where they went to eat. Takes reservations. If you’re lucky they’ll have pasta with a rich sauce made from NZ wild boar.
• Little India, Kingsland, 501 New North Road – http://www.littleindia.co.nz/ A chain, yes, but excellent for tandoori, and in a funky-but-safe side neighbourhood. Cab over early on a Friday night to browse shops and bars off the beaten track.
• Sawadee Thai, Ponsonby, 42 A Ponsonby Road – http://www.sawadee.co.nz – High-end Thai food with all the grace notes in a beautiful setting.
• Barossa, Titirangi, Titirangi Road – http://www.barossa.co.nz/ Too far to go in a cab. A nice place to have a brunch or late lunch after one of the Titirangi hikes. The décor’s a bit plain but the food always delivers, and there’s a good list of wines by the glass.

Going for broke! Expensive and/or famous places, $40 and up:
• French Café, Newton, 210 Symonds St – http://www.thefrenchcafe.co.nz/menus.htm What can you say about the best?
• Bowman’s, Mt. Eden, 597 Mt. Eden Road, – Small and intimate – the locals’ counterpoint to the French Café.
• O’Connell Street Bistro, downtown, 3 O’Connell St – http://www.oconnellstbistro.com/2.htm Right downtown, this is a great place for wine-lovers, and the food…so perfect…
• Harbourside, downtown, 1st floor of the Ferry Building, Quay St. – http://www.harboursiderestaurant.co.nz/ Again, downtown, and carefully manicured to avoid offending anyone with the least hint of atmosphere, but the seafood is impeccable. If you want seafood in a fine dining environment, this is the place.
• Rikka, Newmarket,73 Davis Crescent – My sushi-loving friends say this exquisite and friendly Japanese place is worth the second mortgage.

NOT RECOMMENDED despite the hype…
Kermadec on the Viaduct Basin – The bland corporate expense-account default downtown. There’s nothing wrong with the place, but you can do so much better.

Orbit, on top of the Sky Tower – Many, many stories from local friends about terrible service spoiling anniversaries, birthdays, etc. In fact, if you can avoid eating in any of the touristy Sky City complex restaurants, avoid it.

I can’t really say that there is no great food by the water in Auckland. But usually if a place has outdoors seating with a water view, the food may be good, but it won’t be great, and it can often be indifferent. If you had a dazzling food experience with a water view in Auckland, please let me know, because I’d love somewhere to take people.

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