Meet Magda—a speakeasy-style bar and bistro that is guaranteed to steal your heart, captivate your taste buds and tantalise your palate with its delicious selection of snazzy tipples and tasty bites.
The idea for Bar Magda was dreamt up by talented trio Carlo Buenaventura, Craig Thompson and Matt Venables, who all have extensive experience in the hospitality industry working across restaurants and venues such as Orphans Kitchen, Culprit, Gemmayze St and PSC. In fact, Carlo was the brains behind The Cult Project restaurant pop-ups, which took place in eateries across the country, while Craig and Matt come from a bar background bringing a vast amount of knowledge to the table. So, it’s fair to say that they know what they’re talking about when it comes to dishing up the goods.
Nestled into Cross Street, this underground bar, which used to be a nightclub, has been transformed into what can only be described as a work of art—the space is filled with heaps of character including exposed brickwork (which if you look closely is glittery—a leftover of the space's slightly checkered past), beautiful woodwork, dimly lit and opaque lighting and speakeasy-inspired art created by Carlo’s friend Olivier Stein—let’s just say it’s a vibe.
Divided into three spots, Bar Magda has something for everyone. If you want to wine and dine then hit up the quieter bistro area, if you’re after a tipple or two then the designated bar area is the place to be or if you haven’t quite made up your mind, never fear as you can cosy on up in the bar dining space, while you check out the menu. Trust us, one look at the menu and you’ll want to order everything in sight.
And it certainly doesn’t disappoint, just like the space, it is a beautiful affair that is home to a variety of hot and cold plates with sour, salty, sweet and spicy flavours. Showcasing the best of New Zealand seasonal ingredients yet taking inspiration from Carlo’s Filipino roots, you can expect an evolving menu jam-packed with fresh flavours.
While the fare is inspired by the south of the Philippines (where Carlo grew up), it’s not traditional Filipino food as you know it. Forget about your meats, rice and stews and think about chicken & duck liver parfait, preserved smoked cherries served with truffle and a cacao brioche. Yum!
Designed for sharing, grab some mates and a selection of plates and the conversation will be flowing all night long. The starters have been designed as finger food, so get your mitts dirty and tuck into the parmesan custard, preserved scallion and sweet gherkin served with freshly made in-house bread.
A must-try dish has to be the preserved kohlrabi, rouille and saffron. This tangy dish is the perfect little entree, full of colour and fresh flavours that will bring your palate to life, however, if you’re after something hot then the lamb ribs “pyanggang”, soft herbs and green sambal cooked on a coal fire will certainly suffice.
Now, if you’re looking for the perfect drop, then Bar Magda has got you covered. Whether it's a buttery chard or a rich red that you're after, there is a tipple for everybody. In fact, all of the wines are organic and biodynamic, but if vino isn’t your drink of choice they also have an epic cocktail list to get stuck into. We’re totally digging the tamarillo, vodka, vermouth, ginger and vanilla sour, which is very dangerous as it goes down like a treat. The Mandarin, lairds overproof applejack, carrot, ginger, coconut with mandarin sherbert on top is also foolproof.
We urge you to stay way into the night to see Magda’s naughty side— the drinks will be flowing, music booming and plenty of late-night bites will be dished up to keep you going as the kitchen is open until the coal fire runs out.
So, if you’re looking for a good time and great vibes then feed your appetite at Bar Magda, Auckland’s hottest new bar and bistro that caters for all nights out.
Image credit: Wono Kim