My top 10 restaurants in Auckland right now
We don't go out to eat very often, so when we do, we choose to go somewhere that is a huge treat for all the senses. Beautiful restaurants that serve food that you dream about forever after - that's what we look for. I find the enjoyment of food is something that is such an immediate joy and a real living-in-the-moment kind of experience that it's sometimes worth splurging a bit to make some great life memories.
So on that note, here's a list of my 10 favourite Auckland restaurants - should you be looking for a recommendation for a lunch with friends or a special night out with your partner. These probably aren't kiddie kinds of restaurants, however, we have taken our kids to a few of these. (Having said that, my daughter and her boyfriend recently went to Ebisu on a date night!)
In no particular order:
1. Tok Tok is probably our favourite restaurant on the North Shore, at the moment. This popular Asian fusion restaurant lives on the corner of two well-known streets in Takapuna and serves delicious food that never disappoints.
Some of our favourite small meals there are the popping prawns, the fresh catch tacos and the venison dumplings. These small meals are perfect for a light lunch and we always order a few options and share - so that everyone gets to experience all the different tastes on offer.
Two weekends ago we went with another couple and shared four main meals - the pork, prawn, squid pad thai; the pork cheek red curry; the crispy Hapuka (a fish) dry red curry and the crispy half duck - and all of those flavours complimented each other so well. We ended the evening sharing a 5 spice pannacotta and rolled out of there very satisfied. Yum.
Tip: I always ask for a glass instead of the tin cups they have on the tables for water because those tin cups remind me too much of camping!
They also do some crazy delicious cocktails:
2. Another old favourite is Jervois Steak House which, in our opinion, has THE BEST steaks in Auckland, and very attentive, knowledgeable wait staff. Situated on Jervois Road in Ponsonby (hence the name), the restaurant is housed in a cosy double story villa with a great bar downstairs. Any meal here is fabulous (especially the Wagyu cuts), but Grant favours the rib eye on the bone and always looks very happy with himself when his meal arrives! Don't miss out on any of the sides either - they're all good. We have had desserts here (see below), but most of the time we're too full to contemplate that final sweet dish.
3. Grant introduced me to Beirut restaurant in the city and I've been smitten ever since. This unassuming, slightly obscure, Middle Eastern restaurant has some spectacularly tasty meals on their menu. We took Jess there on her 18th birthday and really had to assure her that she would enjoy the food there (she wasn't convinced initially) - and I'm pleased to say that she did enjoy most of it. Kids!
I remember loving the Afghan bread (with burnt butter, pistachio and rose petal jam), the slow braised goat, the Fattoush (melon, beetroot, cucumber, orange blossom, parsley - I mean, how is that combination?!) and the Arabic doughnuts (with black cumin syrup and fennel ice-cream). Mmmmm. All so good.
4. Then there's Depot - an unpretentious, excellent, little restaurant very close to Sky Tower in Auckland City. This is the chef, Al Brown's restaurant and he serves up fresh, fun and flavorful food in this casual environment in the city. Ordering small meals is what I like to do here. My favourite meal: Turbot sliders, oysters and a glass of Chardonnay. Absolute perfection.5. Oh my goodness, Ebisu. This place! The people-watching is so good here. So stylish. But besides checking out the hip-and-happening patrons who eat here, the food is sensational. We always start with the edamame while sipping a glass of crisp white wine and contemplate the menu.
More often than not, we have the Rainbow Rolls, sashimi and dumplings, but their menu is extensive and impressive. A very pleasant evening down on the waterfront in the city.
6. I've only ever been to the Japanese restaurant, Masu, once, but it was so good that it's left a lasting impression. A chap was chiselling away at a large block of ice (and I mean large) behind a bar when we were there and that was all kinds of fascinating to watch (shaved ice for presenting fresh sushi, obvi). Anyway, I don't remember what we ate there, except that it was a-m-a-zing. I do remember that we tried a variety of dishes that night, one of which was from the Robata grill (a method of cooking similar to barbecue). The sushi and sashimi were still my favourites, though. This restaurant is a few up from Depot, near to Sky Tower in the city.
7. You don't get too many good Italian restaurants here in Auckland (my opinion), but, damn, Baduzzi is so good. Bellissima. (Sorry.) You have to try their Polpette - handcrafted meatballs. Yes, so good.
8. And then there's Cibo (Italian sounding, but not strictly an Italian restaurant). We've been to two birthday functions here (and dinner) and the food was phenomenal every time. Always a good time. Recommend.
9. Azabu is a fabulous restaurant in Ponsonby Road, in Grey Lynn. And hey, I now realise just how much we love our Japanese/Asian fusion type of food! Haha. We went here for the first time, right before going to a Coldplay concert and that night now ranks as one of my best all-around experiences. Good food and good music - a match made in heaven. Order any of the sushi/sashimi dishes - such great taste combinations.
And 10. Okay, The French Cafe is a real spoil. And I've only been once - with Grant's company. But, wow, that was a total treat. Seriously. Special occasion stuff. Do it at least once, I reckon.And then I've got one last special mention/added extra: Cassia - a modern Indian restaurant that my husband has been to and rates highly. I have yet to go (that's why it didn't make my top 10), but I reckon it's on my list of restaurants I want to try.
So those are my faves. As I said, mostly Japanese and Asian fusion, but there's also something on that list for the meat lover, curry connoisseur, Italian enthusiast and seafood fanatic. Light, small meals or big, main meals - there's something for everyone. Auckland has some world-class restaurants and I love going out in this friendly city, to sample all it has to offer.
Got any others to add to my list? Leave me a comment, I'd love to discover more treasures.
August Little Things
I'm not sure who I'm kidding with my counting the days to Summer and all - because let's be honest here - it's still a LONG time before Summer hits our shores in here in Auckland. Sad, but true.
Going to keep counting, though. ;) Haha.
Back in August, my mom and I met for breakfast one morning - at one of our favourite breakfast spots - Bread and Butter. Their Avocado Breakfast Salad is beyond good! I have it pretty much every time I go there.
And Grant and I went out for dinner in the city one night, with friends - to a lovely place called Pilkington's. That restaurant has some interesting decor and rather delicious food too - I love it.
And then we headed off to a show at Spark Arena - to see Jerry Seinfeld! Jerry Seinfeld, you guys! That guy makes me laugh. Sadly we weren't allowed to take any photos inside the arena, but here's a very average photo of the crowds going in that night - the arena was absolutely packed!
Crisp, winter mornings are ever-changing and often gorgeous in our hood:
And here's our darling dog, Bailey, doing what she loves to do - snuggle up for some cuddles:
Luke had his cross-country day back in August and they were lucky to run in some sunny weather that day. The race was held at the Auckland Domain in the city and I had great fun watching my kid run.
And here's me - test running some summer clothes (wishful thinking):
Please note: This 'test running' is the closest I'm actually getting to any sort of running... Meh. Summer's not coming anytime soon, is it?
And now onto September... (And dare I say the countdown to Christmas?! What?!) Kidding. But seriously, how can it be September already?!
Do all mothers think THEIR kid's art is the best?
So when we first went to have a look at Luke's new school last year, we were blown away by their fantastic art department. I mean, all of the artwork that was on display at the time was amazing! I'm not even exaggerating. (Look, it wasn't as good as my kids' art, but, you know, damn close. Haha.)
Also, the art teachers were particularly friendly and welcoming and obviously very good because the level of artwork that they got the boys to produce was phenomenally high and very creative. But, most importantly, the boys looked like they were really enjoying their art classes when we walked through the studios.
So last week, when the parents were invited to the school to see what our boys have been working on in their art class this term, I jumped at the chance to see first hand what Luke is creating in that awesome art department at the moment.
They've been working on their Anne Bagby inspired "My time at King's" banners (printmaking/painting/spray painting and stencil layering). Such a fascinating theme for these boys. And I love Luke's colour choice on his piece. #proudmom Also, I'm so happy that my kid is getting to experience this wonderful art department this year.
He thoroughly enjoyed his art classes in the first and second terms as well, when they made clay sculptures (the art of abstract facial construction and decoration) and he knocked together a wooden computer monitor stand (term 2 was when they did the woodwork segment of the year) - which was very professional looking if I say so myself. (Sadly I haven't taken any photos of those beauties yet.)
I absolutely love that these kids get to express their creativity at school. And have so much fun doing it.
Moving schools for his last year before going off to senior school hasn't been easy, but it's so lovely to see that Luke is happy at school now and that he feels so comfortable there. It is never easy coming into a new school in the last year of that school when all the students have been friends for years already, but he has become steadily happier and more settled as time passes.
And we're now nearing the end of Term 3 and then we'll be into the final stretch before getting him ready for senior school next year - and boarding school! (Are we making the right decision? Not sure that I want my baby to be away from me every week! More on that later.)
So what's your school art department like? Does your school put enough emphasis on the arts? I'd love to hear from you.
How to get yourself super ready for summer
Introducing ALCHEMY APPAREL!
My gorgeous friend, Chenay, has just launched her new, handmade, designer apparel range - Alchemy Apparel - and it's so awesome that I had to share it here with you guys!
I mean, just look at this beautiful piece!This serene, nature-loving lady recently decided that it was high time to pursue her longtime dream of developing a range of swim- and activewear that she loved and knew others would also appreciate.
So, utilising her passion and creativity, she set out to produce pieces that perfectly reflect her love of the outdoors and fit in flawlessly with an active lifestyle. And she knows what she wants and needs when it comes to swim- and activewear because when Chenay is not busy being an amazing aerialist instructor, she can be found floating around the ocean doing things like this. (This is her in the photo below.)
This woman is a marvel, I tell you!
The fabrics that she uses for her swimwear have an SPF 50+ rating, to withstand the harsh New Zealand sun. And the active wear is lined and has great stretch in both directions - which is important when exercising. It's also super-hardwearing which is vital when it comes to those demanding activities that are hard on lighter fabrics.
Both the swimwear and the active wear have padded or non-padded options and the padding is cleverly sewn into place so as to avoid any scrunching up in the wash - which is just brilliant because we all know how annoying it can be to manoeuvre those little suckers into place all the time.
Alchemy Apparel also prides itself on celebrating all shapes and sizes and strives to promote self-love. I absolutely love that Chenay has focused on these points and has developed a range of apparel that women can feel empowered wearing.
And now for some other exciting news: As a special launch promotion, I have a giveaway today! The first 3 people to head on over to Alchemy Apparel and purchase any of these gorgeous pieces, will receive 15% off, using the #LAUNCH checkout code.
I'd love to see what you decide on, so leave a comment for me here or if you're on Instagram, upload a photo and tag @_alchemyapparel.
I'm definitely counting down the days to summer now... especially as the rain is pouring down outside while I'm writing this! Bring on summer!
July Little Things
The highlight of our July was the time we spent in Fiji. You can see my posts about that trip over here and here.
And just for kicks, here's another picture of us lying at the pool in Fiji - because I feel the need to remember that gorgeous warmth right now. You're welcome. ;)
Seriously, besides our marvellous break in the sun, July was mostly spent keeping warm and going to work. Oh wait, there were a few episodes of West Wing thrown in there too, and we also went for dinner at friends' houses and those were fun evenings of yummy food, good conversations, lots of laughs and playing records.
These are the things that get us through winter over here. :)
And that was our July.
In other news: Can you believe it's already August? It's crazy!
There are already a few blossoms making an appearance around town here and that's incredibly exciting. (And rather early?!) I keep wanting to stop and take photos of them, but that would mean getting out of my car and it's still a little cold for that. Hahaha - kidding, I'm just super lazy.
Also, did any of you experience the Solar Eclipse? I so wish I had!
Anyway, happy Hump Day, everyone! Enjoy the rest of your week. xx