The Gaurdian UK Article
I’d heard all about New Zealand: sleepy; sheepy; 1950s England; dull and duller colonial cakes and overcooked roasts. Forget it. Auckland is so deliciously cosmopolitan that I’m wondering quite why I don’t live there. Auckland is the world’s most populous Polynesian city. It’s an isthmus circled by dramatic extinct volcanos, rubbed by the unpolluted South Pacific waters and with more boats per inhabitant than any city in the world. Auckland has a warm climate, with fertile farmland and seas that teem with fish. The city is blessed with a first-class eating and drinking scene that makes our own seem smug and flat. Here are some of the top places to eat:
Prego, an Auckland institution (226 Ponsonby Road, +64 9 376 3095,prego.co.nz; mains from around £10, no reservations), has an all-NZ wine list to die for, delicate pizzas and seafood pastas, juicy and olive-oily grilled fish, equally well-oiled service, happy punters, and prices that make those in London restaurants laughable.
In the shiny city centre, Peter Gordon (owner of Providores and Tapa Room in Marylebone, London) runs two gorgeous, slick joints. Dine(SkyCity Grand Hotel, 90 Federal Street, +64 9 363 7030,skycitygrand.co.nz; mains from £15) is his paean to Pacific Rim cuisine, pulled off with verve and class. Across the road, Bellota (91 Federal Street, +64 9 363 6301, bellota.co.nz; mains from £10) is Peter’s take on a Spanish theme; with its dark leathery alcoves, Bellota has to be the loungiest, sexiest, flirtiest tapas bar ever.
In the upcoming neighbourhood of Kingsland, you’ll find Auckland’s best pies and friendliest crowd at The Fridge (507 New North Road, +64 9 845 5321), and for tasty, casual, Italian/Mediterranean food, in a cool, noisy environment, head to Coco’s Cantina (376 Karangahape Road, +64 9 300 7582, cocoscantina.co.nz; mains from around £8).
Matakana Village (matakanavillage.co.nz) is a beachside community an hour’s drive north of Auckland in wine country, and is devoted to food and drink. There’s a superb upmarket butcher, a cool chippie, and The Vintry (+64 9 423 0251, thevintry.co.nz) which sells hundreds of award-winning NZ wines by the glass, bottle and case. I love that you can take your wine into the glamorous cinemas next door (matakanacinemas.co.nz). Heron’s Flight Vineyard (49 Sharp Road, +64 9 422 7915, heronsflight.co.nz) serves local cheeses, fish, game and Sangiovese wines on its terrace.