Yes, American Express Restaurant Month is officially back for another year bringing with it a delicious looking line-up of events, and most importantly, special menu deals.
For the whole of August, Auckland inner-city eateries have whipped up a smorgasbord of set lunch and dinner menus for us lucky Aucklanders to sink our teeth into. Round up your foodie friends and schedule in those dinner dates, here are the best menus on offer at this year’s Restaurant Month.
Nuggets and burgers are great—there’s no denying that. What’s even better? A free-range nugget patty, smack bang in between doughy bread, and lettuce and pickles, otherwise known as the Big Nugg Sando. Find this comfort treat on Lowbrow’s $25 menu, alongside your choice of a salted pretzel, strawberry & cereal or chewy brownie ice cream sundaes. Get in.
Queen’s Arcade newcomer NEO is set to be your new favourite inner-city spot, and their epic $40 lunch and dinner menu will prove why. As the first restaurant in Auckland to bring the chic and avant-garde flavours of neo-Nordic cuisine to European fare, the menu showcases the very best of modern Swedish flavours. Start with a beer brined crayfish & vasterbotten tart, and move on to a venison daube served with your two new obsessions: potato dumplings (a.k.a. kroppkakas) and lingonberries. For dessert, there’s a delish cardamom and gingerbread ice-cream to scoop your way through.
Upper Queen Street
We can always count on French folk to serve up the most delicious comfort food. Escape the winter blues and head on over to Le Garde-Manger on upper Queen Street for the ultimate three-course winter feast $40 can buy. Here you’ll find the best soul food in this year’s Restaurant Month line up: we’re talking your choice of oeuf en cocotte with cream and blue cheese as well as an impossibly creamy French onion soup, casseroles and confit duck dishes. Throw in a creme brulee or moelleux chocolate cake and a side of baguette in the mix, and you’ll be in a French food coma for sure.
There’s a lot to love about Britomart’s chic dumpling den, Xuxu—and their Restaurant Month menu proves just why. They’re offering foodies their choice of any two dumpling baskets along with a fabulous class of wine for just $25. Choose from their impossibly delicious savoury or dessert dumplings, and pair them alongside Opawa Pinot Gris or Yalumba Barossa Shiraz. Talk about a perfect post-work pick-me-up.
The Kimchi Project
Vegans rejoice—Lorne Street legends The Kimchi Project have conjured up an entirely vegan set menu for this year’s Restaurant Month, alongside a classic menu. And boy oh boy are they tasty. $40 will treat you to the delish TKP house salad and white kimchi aglio et olio to start, a Korean Buddha bowl for our vegan friends, and a Korean Barbeque beef short rib dish for the meat eaters.
While we’re on the topic of amazing plant-based restaurant month menus, let us introduce you to Cafe Hanoi’s three-course Vietnamese vegan offering. There's crispy kumara veggie rice paper rolls to begin, followed by four delicious options of a curry, steamed and stir-fried eggplant, black pepper tofu and a fresh green papaya salad. The spoiling for choice doesn’t end there, for dessert there’s a spiced citrus creme brulee, a dark chocolate delice or a traditional Che sago dessert—all for a sweet $40.
This Wynyard Quarter gem is dishing up a $55 menu that’s every bit as pretty and opulent as its decor. Their Restaurant Month menu has choices galore between Turkish meatballs, fritters, Ottoman-style eggplant and feast platters to graze away on. What we’re eyeing up the most, however, it is the dessert menu. Here you’ll have a hard choice of deciding between a sumptuous Turkish almond pudding, or a taste of Turkey plate which treats you to the ultimate Turkish delights: baklava, pistachio ice cream, Turkish delight and pashmak.
A lucky number for some, the number 5 reigns supreme at Hello Beasty’s set menu, which treats diners to five flavour-filled courses for $55. At this funky pan-Asian eatery, you can expect a range of modern dishes inspired by Japan, Korea and China. Some of the treats you’ll find on this colourful set menu are their take on KFC (Korean fried cauliflower), their signature ramen cup noodle as well as a twisted doughnut with miso caramel.
Gusto at the Grand
One of the best value meals on Restaurant Month’s $25 menu is the two-course Italian extravaganza at Gusto at the Grand. Pea, mint and ricotta bruschetta start off this fabulous feast, which progresses into a dreamy Pappardelle al Ragu alla Bolognese for the main. Of course, the team here know that no Italian dining is complete without a fine drop of wine, so they’re pouring up a glass of Marchese Antinori wine to match.
$40 will treat you to quite the feast with Culprit’s nifty Restaurant Month dinner offer. You’ll start by choosing four bite-size dishes from their restaurant-roaming trolleys—like yum cha, but with Americana-inspired dishes—which are every bit as amazing as they sound. Move on to monkfish or pork for mains, and then prepare to thoroughly devour their decadent peanut slab mousse for dessert.
Warm your soul and taste buds at The Culpeper when you indulge in their $25 dinner and lunch menu. Two courses will see you choosing between the likes of lamb merguez corn dogs, a garnished salmon poke bowl or their signature, mouth-watering fried chicken to begin with. The decisions from there don’t get much easier, you’ll have to make a tough call between more spiced chook, market fish, pork cheek scrumpets and fresh market fish.
The Sugar Club
Taking their Restaurant Month menu to new heights—quite literally—is the Sugar Club, with their $79 dinner menu. Sit 53 stories above Auckland as you start on charcoal carrot or alpine and move on to Hauraki Gulf fish and Wagyu eye fillet await as mains. You’ll also find the most chic ice cream sandwich in town for dessert here, along with chocolate kampot pepper ice cream.
Image Credit: Xuxu