As usual, we found some interesting restaurants while visiting Auckland New Zealand
- Harbourside Ocean Grill, located in the city’s Ferry Building, is a seafood-centric restaurant where we had three entrée-sized dishes, all of which were good. Whitebait fritter (with lemon and chive butter sauce and fennel was like a whitebait (baby fish) omelet; not quite what we were expecting, but good. Streamed greenlip mussels with white wine garlic and cream sauce and grilled spelt bread were huge and very good. Vietnamese dumplings with prawns, squid, sweet corn, spring onion and chili jam had a nice taste (although we couldn’t detect the squid or the corn) and just the right amount of heat. We had these with a nice 2013 Prophet’s Rock Central Otago Riesling. The view over the harbor and ferry terminal was nice and our server was one of the best of the entire trip.
- Cibo, a very nice restaurant in the city’s Parnell District, where we had four dishes. Two of them were very good: An entrée of diamond clams, squid noodles and grilled octopus with carrots in a chorizo broth; and a main dish of oven-roasted hapuka with slipper lobster tail, spicy XO sauce and coconut rice porridge. Two other dishes were less successful: Alaskan scallops with king crab; and roasted pumpkin with carrots, raisons, macadamia nuts and noodles. We, were, however, very pleased with the setting next to a pond and garden, with the wine (2015 Mt Edwards pinot gris from Central Otago) and the service.
- Oyster & Chop, in the Viaduct Basin complex, specializes in its namesake dishes, We began by trying Te Kouma oysters, a large, cool water oyster with a firm texture and the type of briny taste that we both enjoy. Joyce, after a large lunch, made do with a very good fried calamari appetizer. Although Tom was planning on a lamb rack for his last New Zealand dinner, he opted instead for a nice, sous vide-cooked lamb rump with a side of creamy mashed potatoes. Quite nice, although not as enticing for him as rack of lamb.
- Crab Shack, a casual restaurant on one of the city’s many revitalized wharfs where we got a lunch special of a scrawny crab and prawn roll with little seafood sandwiched between a large, hard-to-chew bun and a small fried prawn. While this was very disappointing, we were both pleased with our 1 kg of steamed clams, which combined, in descending order of our preference, Diamond Shell, Tuatua and Moon Shell clams in wine, garlic and cream sauce. Along with these, a TRW pinot gris and Mac’s Green Beret IPA.
- Cassia is an Indian-based fusion restaurant that is supposed to be one of the hottest tickets in town. Unfortunately, it was closed for vacation while we were in town. Hopefully we will get a chance to return when we pass through the Auckland airport this summer.
- Depot, a popular CBD restaurant that specializes in wood-fired grilling of fresh local foods, was to be the site of our last launch before leaving for home. After ordering and anxiously awaiting tequila kingfish ceviche, grilled oysters, turbot sliders and bone marrow, 40 minutes after ordering and almost finished with our wine we finally asked about the status of our food. After the second request, they finally told us there had been a computer problem and it would take another 15-20 minutes for our food to arrive. So much for our final lunch in the city. Luckily our airline’s lounge had an interesting and tasty selection of food.
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