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AUCKLAND RESTAURANT MONTH

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Photographs by David Straight

Auckland Restaurant Month runs throughout August and there’s rather a lot on offer this year. International chefs take over some of our favourite kitchens – including Momofuku Sei­ōbo at The Grove and Pope Joan at Odettes – while dozens of restaurants offer up special set menus every night in August; there are a few other events you won’t want to miss either, including the Cult Project at Misters serving rescued food. Bewildered? Here are our picks.

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We’re big fans of eating at the bar here at EHN – so we like the look of Raise the Bar, which gives you the opportunity to sit in some of the city’s nicest restaurants each Thursday night in August and have a glass of wine and a dish for $25. From happy experience, we can recommend the bar at Masu, which sits in the front of the restaurant, all glass and blonde timber and stone, with a view of the goings-on of Federal Street: you’ll eat crispy fried squid, green chilli and lime, matched with Babich Headwaters Block Organic Albarino 2015. (If you fancy a chaser, the Japanese craft beers here are very good as well.)

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Clooney has reopened after a brief hiatus, and it’s still one of the more striking dining rooms in Auckland. Owner Tony Stewart and chef Des Harris have developed an inventive seven-course dinner – a menu which costs $80 and happens to be vegetarian. That shouldn’t put anyone off. In fact, we want to eat it all. Fermented tomato with gooseberry for one course, and then plum, beetroot, shiso, sesame and kombu for another. Finished with burnt buffalo milk and valhrona, this is a modern, exciting menu. We can’t wait.

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Rockefeller, meanwhile, is one of the city’s finest places to eat oysters, with the added advantage of a list of vintage champagnes: you should go. It’s a beautiful space, all masculine steel and tiles and big heavy beams. For $40 in August, Rockefeller is doing a three-course lunch or dinner: there are freshly shucked oysters and beef tartare (“no wimps”) and chocolate nemesis for dessert. (The champagne will cost you extra.)

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The Grove is a long way – both in geography and style – from David Chang’s cult restaurant-bakery-magazine empire Momofuku, but we love them both without reservation. So we’re intrigued to check out A Taste of Momofuku Sei­ōbo on August 17, when Paul Carmichael – the executive chef of Momofuku Sei­ōbo in Sydney, the first Momofuku outside the United States – joins Ben Bayly in the kitchen at one of our favourite fine diners.

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Pope Joan is one of those Melbourne stalwarts that people still tell you to go to when you’re visiting. Seasonal and local drives the menu – from some of the best breakfasts in town right through to homegrown-vegetable laden dinners. Chef-Patron Matt Wilkinson is all about produce: his first book was called Mr Wilkinson’s Favourite Vegetables and we’re big fans. Wilkinson is crossing the ditch for one night only, previewing his new Pope Joan menu in the beautifully serene Odettes. It’ll be served banquet-style, which we love, and promises to be inventive, fresh, and extremely tasty.

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We all know food waste is a huge problem, and Kiwi Harvest are more than walking the talk. Rescuing and repurposing food that would otherwise be thrown out is their game, and they have teamed up with the talented duo from pop-up The Cult Project at Misters, on Wyndham Street. We tried chefs Carlo and William’s food earlier this year, and haven’t stopped thinking about the creamed corn since.

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Have you been to Faro? People forget about it, tucked away on Lorne Street: it’s a Korean barbecue restaurant with fabulous service and a very nice fitout and food that is a big level up from your average Korean. For $40, you get two courses and a glass of wine and a choice of such specialties as Korean-style pancakes with kimchi, fish and zucchini and a choice of hot & spicy chicken or pork or beef on the charcoal grill. Well worth checking out.

This post was kindly supported by Auckland Tourism Events & Economic Development

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