166 Jervois Rd
(09) 376 5597
Thursday - Sunday
12pm - 3pm
Wednesday - Sunday
6pm - late
Chef Nick Honeyman trained at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris before coming to New Zealand. French cuisine is his specialty, and yet his new restaurant, Paris Butter, is the first opportunity in many years that Auckland diners will have had to experience his unique style of French cooking.
I first met Nick back in 2012, when he was head chef at Sale St, just before his move to The Commons in Takapuna. The reason you may not have heard his name much around town in recent years is because he’s been busy reinvigorating a restaurant in the South of France called Le Petit Leon with business partner Jeff Costello.
Nick has dreamed of having his own restaurant in Auckland for a long time, and now it’s finally become a reality. Paris Butter is a contemporary French bistro, with a beautiful, bold fit-out by Ermitage Design. Think teal leather banquettes and an entire wall of antique mirrors; think huge crystal chandeliers and elaborate tiles. There is a lot going on, but the essence of a traditional French style remains. The unique statement that the interior of Paris Butter makes is echoed by the menu: it’s all about new ideas that have come from a very traditional place.
Nick is joined in the kitchen by head chef William Lauder, who has spent the past year working with Nick in France. They’re the core of a tight-knit team that includes Irene Karsten as front-of-house manager.
Nick’s food has always been beautiful to look at, and he’s deploying his technical skill at Paris Butter to create contemporary French cuisine unlike anything Auckland has seen before. Each dish is a modern, often playful version of a traditional favourite, making good use of the quality produce available here in Aotearoa.
There is a parmesan soup with minestrone condiments, and a prawn spaghetti in bisque with saffron and root veges. Nick doesn’t stray too far from traditional bistro dishes though. You’ll still find a quality steak served with Paris butter and house fries, and there is obviously a crème brûlée for dessert. On my first visit, I was charmed by the vibrant flavour and richness of each dish: a delightfully silky chicken liver parfait with crunchy pickled vegetables and sweet wine jelly, a colourful broccoli and basil risotto with marinated feta and almonds, a salad of crispy pork belly and boudin noir with cauliflower and shallots. It was familiar and exciting at the same time, I wanted to come right back for more, but I couldn’t get a booking for the rest of the week.
It’s rare to walk past a new restaurant and feel like it’s been there forever, but that’s how I feel about Paris Butter. It’s contemporary enough to be fresh and exciting, but also unique enough that it has a timelessness and authenticity that so many new restaurants lack. Herne Bay has a new local, and I think this one will be here for while.