Photographs: David Straight
Parnell has needed this for a very long time, but then so has Auckland. Woodpecker Hill is the fourth restaurant from Mark Wallbank and Che Barrington, who also have MooChowChow, Blue Breeze Inn and Chop Chop. With Woodpecker, they’ve taken those Asian flavours and combined them with – get this – American-style barbecue.
It is quite mental. Rich and plush, with lots of timber and dark corners. There are fur-lined booths and clam-shell light shades and it kind of reminds you of something you might find in LA only it’s earthier than that. You walk in and there is an instant buzz – turns out, what all those cashed up baby boomers really wanted to do was go out for dinner, only nowhere was good enough. (In fact early on, it was so busy there were a few teething issues: they seem to be ironing those out now.)
The food is terrific. You really must order the burnt ends ($33) which are the ends of the brisket, slow cooked for many hours and then served with a curry of lemongrass, fried shallots, Vietnamese mint and lime: there is the smokiness of the duck and the aromatics of the lemongrass and a little pool of sweet-sour-tangy curry with a pile of herbs. Similarly, there is the dry red curry of barbecue duck, ginger and cashews ($32) and a curry of smoky pork with green peppercorns and pineapple ($33). We loved the roasted cauliflower with green peppercorns and the papaya salad and the kingfish ceviche with pomelo, lemongrass an and chilli jam. The flavours are balanced and harmonious, and it is in this way that you wonder quite why no one has ever put this food together like this. SFG
HOURS Open 12pm to 1am, seven days
ADDRESS 196 Parnell Road, Parnell, ph 309-5055. woodpeckerhill.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS You can book! Online!