Monday—a.k.a. the most hated day of the week. Statistically speaking, more people are in a crap mood on a Monday than on any other day (OK, that’s made up, but probably accurate). Fatigue, bad moods, headaches…they're all signs of ‘Monday-itis’, the symptoms of which can be cured by two things: a good meal and a strong beverage. However, just when you think it’s time to lift your spirits with a dinner out, you get slapped with the fact that most decent eateries are closed on this hell of a day because, like you, they clearly hate Mondays too.
But don’t fret! Turns out there are some restaurants that DO stay open. So, without further a-do, here they are—the restaurants helping you get through the beginning of the week, one Monday at a time.
Hidden away in Saint Patrick’s square is one of the most celebrated restaurants on the New Zealand food scene—The Grove. Offering degustation-style dining, the cuisine is modern New Zealand with a French twist. Keeping things fresh and exciting, the menu changes often, reflecting the seasonality of the ingredients and the most current industry techniques. If wine is your poison, make sure to try the wine match option, providing a perfectly paired glass of vino alongside every course. Sophisticated and intimate, the restaurant itself sports a slick, modern interior, executed in warm tones. Looking out to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, generously-sized windows are framed by thick curtains, hanging long from the high ceiling to the wooden floor. The tables themselves are draped in white cloth and set with beautiful silverware and crystal-clear glassware. Who wants to get a little fancy this Monday?
The Grove’s less sophisticated, more informal sister-restaurant, serving Italian cuisine in all its ancient glory. The restaurant’s modern design features patterned floors and windows with luxurious banquette seating and small, cosy tables. The rustic menu draws on Italian classics dating back to the Roman empire, combining local ingredients with traditional recipes. Think hearty meatballs made from your choice of lamb, beef, fish or venison. The most tender of beef cuts (T-bone, rump or flat iron). And of course, the best pasta—maltagliati with duck and porcini, beetroot paradelle with shaved paua and linguine with southern clams. There's also a decent selection of vegetarian options, great for all the meat-free folk out there. The wine selection focuses heavily on Italian sourced plonk, so it’s safe to say Baduzzi has you covered for an Italian night out.
Sitting at level 53 of Auckland’s most icon landmark, the Sky Tower, is The Sugar Club—Peter Gordon’s revered establishment. The Sugar Club focuses on small plates of creative ‘fusion’ cuisine, mixing and matching seasonal New Zealand produce with both European and Asian flavours from all over the world, resulting in unique and dynamic dishes. The décor draws inspiration from the 1930s: super chic and classy, with a hint of art deco influence reflected in the brass fittings, stone table tops and the play on geometry. Needless to say, the view is to die for. Watch the busy city life below you, suburbs stretching out in all directions. Two oceans, several mountain tops…it's beautiful at all times of day and in any weather conditions.
Set inside the beautiful old Ponsonby post office, Augustus is an opulent French bistro. Transformed from its original Neo-Baroque design, the interior now boasts a modern take on the French country style. The kauri floorboards are stained black, contrasting the white of the mould-patterned walls. The ceilings are high, and the windows plentiful, bathing the room in light. The menu is packed with traditional French must-haves, as well as a huge variety of fresh local seafood. From fresh oysters, cured Akaroa Salmon and scallop gratin to the very French escargot, onion soup, beef tartare and duck l’orange…with a menu this good it’s hard to go wrong!
A recent addition to Auckland, Amano burst onto the local food scene, guns blazing, and has remained a firm favourite ever since. Set inside an open plan space, Amano features a contemporary design marrying plain wooden pillars and distressed concrete walls with stunning marble clad floors and oyster shell benchtops. Serving up rustic Italian-inspired cuisine, Amano is big on issues of environmentalism—the meat is ethically farmed, the fish sustainably caught, and they employ a no waste policy. Not only does this have a feel-good factor, but it also provides you with the ability to taste unconventional meat cuts and lesser known species of fish, such as sardines, piper, mackerel and herring. And then, of course, there's the pasta. Handmade, in-house, fresh on the daily. Yum.
A favourite for sashimi fans, Masu is Japanese heaven. The fit-out is very Japanese: clean and natural with wooden everything, walls, floors, chairs and tables, with cherry blossoms decorating the bar. Masu encourages a share-style experience, offering a range of small platters cooked in the Japanese style of ‘robata’. Translating to ‘fireside cooking’, robata is a centuries-old, country cooking method developed by northern Japanese fishermen, allowing for food to be grilled while retaining its natural flavour. The options are many and delicious. Lamb cutlets, tempura flounder and tuna tartare are just some of the options you’ll find on the menu. With a lively and informal atmosphere, this is the perfect place for an after work treat or a catch-up with friends.
The Blue Breeze Inn
Smack bang in the heart of Ponsonby, The Blue Breeze Inn is a super cool and quirky eatery, specialising in modern Chinese food. The floor space is small, yet the customer base is huge. Famous for their delicious food, this place gets seriously packed out, transporting you to the hustle and bustle of a busy Chinese eatery. With chefs trained specifically in the art of dumpling making, you’ll find wontons and dumplings with all sorts of fillings, steamed buns, spicy bang bang chicken and the famous peking duck, served with traditional sides and condiments. The vibes aren’t pure Chinese, though. Filled with cushions of bright flowery prints, stylized tikkis on the menu covers and walls of bamboo sticks, the atmosphere has a ‘Pacific Paradise’ kind of flavour, making it the perfect spot for relaxation with a cocktail in hand.
Housed within an old heritage building in the heart of the city is Café Hanoi, offering Aucklanders the flavours of traditional Hanoian street as well as modern takes on North Vietnamese cuisine...with a pinch of New Zealand thrown in. The vibe is very contemporary, with a shabby chic layout, high ceilings and stripped walls of exposed brick and worn concrete, combined with wooden floors, potted plants and lampshades in the shape of paper lanterns. The menu encourages sharing in a nod to Vietnamese family-style dining. Focusing on sustainability, much of the fish is line-caught, and all the meat is ethically sourced. Here you’ll find wontons, skewers, stuffed rice paper rolls, curries and noodle soups to die for. A finalist in Metro's ‘best value for money’ category, you’re sure to get some bang for your buck.
If it’s great Thai food you’re after, Ponsonby’s Saan is the place for you. Focusing on Northern Thailand specifically, Saan serves food influenced by the regions of Lanna and Isaan. Head chef Lek Trirattanavatin is a Thai native, and combines New Zealand produce with his recipes passed down by generations of his own family. Enter the super calm and relaxing Saan, with its light beige interior and open-plan space and you’re hit with a fragrant mix of ginger, mint, lime and coriander, among other spices. The menu is packed with salad and curry options, all nailing that balance of sweet + sour + salty + hot flavours, so unique to Thai cuisine.
Image Credit: Jaiden Bhaga