Great food at a great price? That, my friend, is the way to an Aucklander’s heart. Restaurant Month is officially here for 2021, bringing with it culinary creativity in the form of set menus and events from our favourite inner-city establishments.
This year, not only are we treated to the epic array we know and love this festival for, there’s also a huge handful of new eateries getting involved. It doesn’t stop there, there’s the newly created Social Hour category, which is dedicated to combining the best cocktails and beverages with snacks galore. This runs from Tuesdays to Thursdays, 4 to 6.30pm—perfect for a mid-week pick-me-up—and set you up with two cocktails plus snacks to share for just $40.
At a time when restauranteurs need our Aroha, Restaurant Month give us Aucklanders an opportunity to show the city some love, in the best way we know: by eating left, right, and centre. Happy belly, happy wallet. What more could we ask for?
So without further ado, here's our pick of the most standout, fun, inventive and value for money menus available at this Auckland Restaurant Month 2021.
Xuxu Dumpling Bar
Oh Xuxu, we Aucklanders sure do have a soft spot for you. Between fabulous cocktails, heavenly dumplings, and a lively atmosphere, there’s a lot to love about this Britomart hideaway. Adding to that is this year’s Social Hour Menu which promises any two baskets of their iconic dumplings, a seasonal salad, plus a Xuxu Negroni each, complete with plum wine, for just $40 a pop. While it’s all up to you to choose your dumplings in this deal, let us impart one piece of precious wisdom: the dessert dumplings are a must-try. See them come together right here.
Three. Dessert. Courses. Yep, a dessert degustation is up for grabs this Restaurant month 2021, and it’s available for a sweet $25 at Federal Delicatessen. Up first is a huge slice of Fed Deli Pie, where you choose between Banoffee, NY Cheesecake, Lemon Meringue or Pecan. Then, you’ll wash it down with a delectable NY deli-style Banoffee, Chocolate, Strawberry or Coconut shake. The next treat is all yours to enjoy at home—you’ll be sent on your way with a jar of caramel popcorn to devour while you’re recovering or in the midst of your sugar coma.
Francofiles, this one’s pour vous. A trip to France might not be on the books right about now, but Le Chef’s Restaurant Month 2021 menu absolutely is—and trust us when we say it’s the closest thing to the experience this side of the equator. $40 is your ticket to eating, drinking and revelling just like you would in a Parisian bistro. You’ll have all kinds of authentic French classics at your fingertips: there’s buttery escargots, chevre chaud (goats cheese, toasted croutons and fresh salad) as well as the Ratatouille du Chef for a comforting starter. Next up, you can choose between the fish du jour, a hearty onion soup complete with a gooey cheese crust, or the trusty bistro-classic, a bavette (beef flank) and frites. As for dessert? Sweet and savoury toothed folk are sorted: there’s a cheese platter or classic creme brulée to end on a high with. Also worth noting is that the wonderful team here can cater multiple options to our gluten-free friends too. How’s that for utterly fabuleux?
Another $40 dollar holla making its debut in this year’s Restaurant Month Menu lineup is Esther’s two-course Mediterranian sharing lunch. You’ll start with their iconic puff bread (you know, that glorious one you see gracing Instagram) plus taramasalata to scoop it up with and steak tartare with shoestring fries. The second course is a real Mediterranean whirlwind, with lamb shoulder, petite green leaves and an aptly-named orgy of mushrooms with ricotta gnocchi. But don’t you go worrying about which of these dishes to choose now—you’ll be glad to know that that part is all taken care of because the chefs will be sending one of each to your table. How’s that for inner-city lunchtime indulgence?
Speaking of delectable Social Hour deals this Restaurant Month, you’ll want to set aside a mid-week, post-work visit to purveyors of contemporary modern Indian cuisine, 1947 Eatery. Their $40 Social Hour deal includes two of the prettiest, fruitiest, and frankly, most scrumptious cocktails in this year’s Restaurant Month lineup. There’s the Lady in Pink, which combines a homemade hibiscus and rosehip syrup with all kinds of citrus, floral extracts and flower salt with gin plus the Alexander The Great cocktail: a Glenfiddich 12-year whisky-based creation with notes of citrus and ginger all swirled in with St Germain and Campari. As for the snacks, sliced ladies fingers fried in spiced butter and okra fries will be all yours to dig right into.
Since swinging open their doors last year, Auckland Viaduct’s Park Hyatt has quickly become a fixture for our Auckland city dwellers looking for a sleek spot to eat, drink, play, sleep and indulge. Onemata is one such place to do that (minus the sleep part, of course) this Restaurant Month. They’re all about inventive, Kiwiana-focused cuisine that oozes creativity, fun and finery and naturally, their $55 Three Course Dinner dishes up just that. You’ll start with a trio of snazzy snacks (a goat cheese profiterole is among the lineup) and move on to your choice of perfectly plated Ora King Salmon, Te Mana lamb shoulder, or a kumara ravioli. Dessert sounds like something to write home about too. A milk chocolate, hazelnut praline and gingerbread ice cream awaits.
Gusto At The Grand
Escape your winter woes and warm up at Sky City’s Gusto at the Grand for lunch or dinner, where they’re pulling out all the stops that $25 can get you. You’ll begin with a mozzarella and roasted beetroot, orange and mint starter, before moving on to the serious comfort food: a big bowl of pappardelle pasta. You’re the master when it comes to the pasta’s trimmings, where you can choose from butternut squash, pistachio & pecorino or Bolognese sauce. We also think their $40 Social Hour is worth sticking around for. Two Rosa Verde cocktails plus a shared plate of trevally crudo with cucumber, chilli and caperberry are yours to dig into.
If you haven’t already munched your way through Gochu’s menu of contemporary Korean creations, let this Restaurant Month be the reason you break that dry spell and visit this Commercial Bay gem. For just $60, you'll chow down on six courses of Korean fusion fare as part of their epic sharing menu this Restaurant Month. Their legendary fried chicken slider is up first, followed by cured kingfish with all kinds of crispy garnishings. Eggplant, charred chicken with comté cheese and pork loin all make appearances in this absolute feast. Let’s not leave out dessert: an ice-cream sandwich with rice cake and caramel apple will elevate this impossibly nostalgic dessert.
La Maree’s $65 Restaurant Month menu this year showcases the very best of Kiwi ingredients and produce, all wrapped up with a touch of French finesse in this three-course menu. While dessert is so often saved for last, we’re going to go ahead and give it first mention here—after all, a delish tropical fruit snowball with gooey meringue and coconut sorbet along with a hazelnut sponge, mousse and salted caramel creation is on the cards. A truffle-lashed risotto (hello winter comfort food) or Taupo Eye Fillet and or Market Fish will tempt you as main, while roasted baby beets and hamachi tartare will set you on the right note as entrees. Everyone, vegetarians included, will be thoroughly indulged with this surf, turf and garden offering this year. All this with a view of Auckland’s waterfront? Now that’s a sumptuous lunch or dinner in the making.
The Parasol And Swing Company
There’s a lot to love about The Parasol & Swing Company. Between their epic food, views and the fab Restaurant Month offerings, they’re dishing up we can’t help but sing their praises from the rooftops. Literally. Park up on their waterfront-facing balcony and be wooed by their $25 two-course dinner or lunch menu as well as their $40 Social Hour. Mexican cuisine reigns supreme this year: their two-course lunch and dinner offering will keep you filled with a pulled duck taco plate garnished with kimchi pineapple as well as a loaded chimichanga. We vote you stick around for their social Hour too: there’s Pinaepiño Margaritas being poured to compliment loaded chimichangas.
Browse all the special menus at Restaurant Month 2021.
Image credit: Heart Of The City