[Photographs: David Straight]
Further evidence of life in Newmarket. For years, we never ate here and then, a few months ago, we started coming over more and more – there’s Basque Kitchen of course, and then friends introduced us to Ile de France. From the outside, it looks like one of those classically clichéd French bistros – you know, galettes, crepes, cheap wine, vintage posters, wooden tables and chairs, frilly lamps.
Except it’s not. Chef Giles Papst comes from Alsace, so sometimes the food is almost German – recently we ate choucroute ($33) which is a grilled piece of pork scotch – served beautifully medium rare – a magnificent, slow-cooked piece of pork belly, and house made pork sausages. It was a pork fest, and it came on – get this – something approaching sauerkraut. That same night, there was duck confit ($33) falling off the bone, with charred savoy cabbage, and there was a pot au feu ($19), Cloudy Bay clams served in a Dieppoise sauce with prawns and mussels (although we would have traded the latter two for more clams). It was a rich, elegant dish. Desserts are excellent: try the chocolate marquise ($14.50).
A year or so ago, the service was slow; the food took too long to come and they got flustered when the restaurant was busy. They’ve fixed that now. The wine list is French and the maître d’s wine knowledge is superb, if definite – but we’re over choosing our wine, and this is the sort of place you shouldn’t have to. SFG
HOURS Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday; dinner only Monday.
ADDRESS Corner Remuera Road and Nuffield St, Newmarket, ph 523-0293. iledefrance.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS BYO on Monday and Tuesday.