It’s virtually impossible to keep up with new openings in Auckland these days. I just can’t do it, there are too many. Thankfully, there are others out there doing much a better job at covering them than I am anyway, like my old pal Alice, who’s now at Metro, and those speedy folk at Viva. Anyway, I have this list of places on my phone that keeps growing, and my guilt grows with it. I thought if I wrote them down here it might make me feel better and also provide you with some useful info. Two things which are pretty much my raison d’etre.
I have actually been twice already and it is #gemmayzing. I’m really hoping to make that hashtag fly. It’s the new opening feature in the WINTER issue of The Seasonal, coming out next week, but that’s an aside. Gemmayze St is a family-owned Lebanese restaurant owned by chef Samir Allen and his mum, Liane Farry, who is the maitre d. His brother Nat also rules the floor. Samir makes traditional Lebanese food he ate as a kid, and also newer dishes he discovered while in Lebanon when he spent a year reconnecting to his century-old ancestral roots. Order the shish barak, a pheasant ravioli with yoghurt, mint and pinenuts. Order the lamb moughrabieh with the gloriously deep flavour and pull-apart texture, and for the genius addition of caraway brittle. Order the beetroot and the cucumber and the hummus and the octopus. For dessert, get the knefe, a parcel of creamy, sweet cheese wrapped in a nest of crispy pastry and topped with orange blossom syrup. Order all the things. Become part of the family. Hashtag gemmayzing. Please.
The two times I’ve smugly cycled to my office in the last two months led me to the discovery of Buoy, the newly refurbished cafe that’s almost directly under the Harbour Bridge. I don’t know anything about it except that it looks much nicer than it used to, and my Dad told me it was really really busy last Saturday. Do you feel enlightened?
These Korean burgers have found a permanent home and even though people raved about them all through last year I’m embarrassed to say I only tried one when they opened in Grey Lynn, near Kokako. It used to be a dark and slightly gloomy place, but now it’s fresh and bright with cool wall murals. The Kimcheese burger is really excellent, a medium rare patty with cheese and kimchi in a very fresh and pillowy bun. They also have Korean beer and great fries. It’s a quick and easy winner.
Nic and Kelly Watt have taken over Hammerheads on Tamaki Drive and turned it into a wellness haven. Gosh it’s lovely, all spaciousness and light floorboards and touchable textures. In addition to a yoga studio, there’s a cafe and restaurant, serving fresh, beautiful-looking food with Organic Mechanic kombucha on tap and Garage Project cans. I say beautiful-looking because I haven’t eaten there yet and I don’t want to lie to you, but I wholly trust Nic Watt, the chef behind MASU. Regardless of whether you’re likely to stay for a Broga or Barre class, it will definitely be a swell spot to catch the afternoon light, and they’re open for brunch on the weekends.
Here are some more places I still haven’t been and/or written about and the length of it makes me feel ill, please go to these places and absolve me of my #firstworldproblem guilt:
Azabu, Artwok, Spacca, Lucky Lucky Dumplings, Bluebell’s Cakery Takapuna, The Caker’s Salon de Cake, AMANO (argh). I have definitely missed some.