Ah, the mighty degustation. Not only is it a chance to sample the crème de la crème of a restaurant’s dishes, it’s probs the only time you’ll be encouraged to eat nine courses in one sitting (those DIY Tim Tam degustations you have at home don’t count).
Some of Auckland’s best chefs are presenting dainty, carefully thought out dishes with on-point beverage pairings—all for your gastronomic pleasure. So it would be rude not to suit up, book a table and prepare to bare witness to a bit of culinary wizardry… right?
Without further ado, here’s some of the best degustation feeds in Auckland.
The French Café
Led by husband-wife team Creghan Molloy-Wright, Manager, and Simon Wright, Executive Chef extraordinaire, The French Café merges food, service and atmosphere to create one mind-blowing dining experience. Changing with the season, their tasting menu is Auckland (and world) famous, with their ‘Flavours of Autumn’ featuring the likes of smoked venison, butter poached crayfish and perfectly cooked duck breast. Getting a table can be tricky business but the wait is more than worth it.
Across the road, East meets West restaurant, Kazuya brings together Japanese and European cuisine in a wondrous and delicious fusion. Head chef and owner Kazuya Yamauchi will treat you to a seasonal five or seven-course set menu—the dishes will look too beautiful to eat and try to hold yourself together when you realise they taste even better than they look. If it’s the whole shebang you’re after, opt for the chef’s degustation, which covers everything from fish carpaccio to angus beef, and over 30 textured seasonal vegetables on one plate. TBH, we didn’t even know 30 vegetables existed in one season…
Housed in what used to be a derelict Freemans Bay warehouse, Clooney is a fiercely glamourous restaurant serving up some crazy combos and stellar beverage matches. Wine buffs can enjoy a seven course menu with impressive vino pairings, or if the grape doesn’t tickle your fancy, Clooney also offers an ‘everything but wine match’, so you can sip on sake, beer, cider and cocktails along the way. The food itself changes to suit each season, however we can promise that every single dish will ooze culinary brilliance—this is one degustation in Auckland you don't want to miss!
The man, the legend. Michael Meredith is a degustation genius, serving only set menus at his intimate Mt Eden restaurant. There’s a five or eight-course option from Wednesday to Friday but make the right choice and book in for the nine-course Saturday degustation. Flavours, colours and textures of seasonal ingredients will be brought to life via dishes such as kingfish, oyster cream and pickled carrots, and short rib, black garlic, parsnip skin and mustard. Get your tastebuds ready.
Another beautiful Auckland restaurant, The Grove has Ben Bayly at the helm, so you know their degustation is going to be a goodie. Choose between five or nine courses and wine pairings with the help of The Grove’s savvy team for the ultimate treat yo’self evening. There are some weird and wonderful dishes including zucchini flower with scallop, crayfish, shaved paua and samphire, hot cocoa smoked wild red deer, and pavé of Valrhona and cherries. Whatever you choose, it will be one epic journey of a meal—one of the best degustation restaurants in Auckland.
So you call yourself a foodie? Ponsonby’s Three Lamps houses a degustation like no other. Headed by one of the country’s most progressive chefs, SIDART is a platform for Sid Sahrawat to work his magic—and you can’t claim your foodie status until you try what he comes up with. Unique five or nine course tasting menus on Friday and Saturday is the way to go, or go for the Chef’s Table experience and watch as the chefs create your dishes. Either way, you’ll be raving about SIDART for weeks on end.
World’s away from your local curry shop, Sid Sahrawat’s Cassia fuses traditional Indian cuisine with modern techniques to create a flavour-fuelled five-course tasting menu. It changes monthly but is available for dinner Tuesday to Saturday alongside the a la carte menu and you’ll be introduced to the bold, vibrant flavours of India in the most delicious way.
How do you make a trip to Waiheke even better? Indulge in a spot of long lunching at the stunning Poderi Crisci. Their seven-course authentic Italian degustation never disappoints. From freshly baked bread and homemade olive oil to creamy whipped mozzarella antipasto, pesto gnocchi, aged Angus sirloin and a melt-in-the-mouth strudel, Poderi Crisci is where people connect over sublime food and wine.
Escape the city once again with a trip to one of Auckland’s finest country restaurants, Bracu. The talented Chef Mikey Newlands will churn out seven courses of beautiful fare including five spice quail and raviolo of lobster alongside an optional wine pairing that will bring out the best in each dish. You’ll be able to enjoy all this surrounded by the Simunovich Olive Estate’s groves and gardens. Total bliss.
At just $89 a head, Coroco’s modern Japanese degustation dinner is a steal. However, they sure don’t skimp on the level of quality and deliciousness. Your dining adventure will begin with a selection of appetisers before moving to salmon confit, scallop gratine, tempura fish and chips, lamb rack, fresh sushi and a dessert we bet you’ve never tried before. Wine and sake pairings will help elevate the dishes to a new high and you’ll walk out with a full, tiddly and oh-so satisfied.
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Image credit: Clooney, The French Café, Kazuya, SIDART, The Grove