[Photographs: David Straight]
This may be the best cooking in Auckland right now. Michael Meredith was rightly celebrated at The Grove, before he left to start Meredith’s five or so years ago. It is a small, hushed space in three small rooms in a no man’s land on Dominion road. The front windows are frosted over, the tables are close together and there is carpet, dark timber furniture and tasteful art. The service is deferential and formal. All of which – sadly – makes the place feel a bit old-fashioned.
The food isn’t. These days, Meredith’s only serves degustation – six courses for $90, eight for $120 and nine (nine!) for $140. Which might seem steep, until you consider that in most top-end restaurants in Auckland these days, you’d easily spend $100 on three courses, and their cooking isn’t half as good as this.
Meredith manages to make his food both cerebral and real, playful and yet nourishing. There are no “foams”, and no nasty squares of this or presses of that. Twice in the past few months, we’ve eaten – get this – snapper skins, blanched, dehydrated overnight and deepfried, scattered with Furikake mix, and then we ate a duck and beetroot macaron with foie gras. Yes. It’s the kind of food that takes a great deal of thought, and a great deal of experimentation. We were less fond of the fish course, but we adored a dish of “bacon and eggs” – bacon with a poached egg and tapioca, with an astonishing smokiness and a beautiful mouthfeel. We are utterly in love with the venison tartare, a witty take on a classic – tender minced venison topped with horseradish and smoked eel. Dessert? Poached quince with mustard ice cream and licorice. One question remains: when do we get to go back? EHN
HOURS Lunch Friday, 12pm to 3pm; Dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm.
CONTACT DETAILS 854 Dominion Road, Balmoral, ph 620-8730. www.merediths.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS Commendably, there is also a vegetarian degustation.