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Photographs: David Straight

We’ve eaten this once a week this winter: a dish that originally came from Dish magazine, via Hannah’s mum. I’ve tweaked it and recently added asparagus – a nice piece of toasted sourdough and maybe a poached egg would be good too. It’s super easy and very fast: the mushrooms add a silkiness, which I really like. This is heaps for two or it could do three or four with a salad.

Packet of organic free-range chicken livers – about 400g for two people
Six Portobello mushrooms sliced into ½ centimetre pieces
A bunch of new-season asparagus (I like the thin stuff)
Olive oil or butter, for frying
Extra virgin olive oil and vinegar of your choosing

Rinse and drain the chicken livers in a sieve, then dry completely on a couple of paper towels. (It will make a nice mess on your bench.) Trim off the white bits and slice the larger ones in two.

Make a simple dressing with extra virgin olive oil and either balsamic or maybe a sherry vinegar – two parts olive oil to one part vinegar is a nice mix.

Snap the ends off the asparagus then cut into spears – about 8cm long is ideal. Boil them in salted boiling water for a minute or two (depending on their thickness), but make sure you take them off before they get soft and douse in cold water.

Add a knob of butter and a little extra virgin olive oil to a nice big heavy frying pan and put over a medium-high heat. When the butter is sizzling, add the chicken livers so there is plenty of space around them – you might need to cook them in batches. Don’t mess with them: you want them seared and caramelised, not stewed, so trust that they will cook if you just put them in the pan and leave them. Cook for two minutes and then flip them and cook for another minute or two. You should still be able to see pink bits.

Remove the livers to a bowl and cover. Add the sliced mushrooms to the frying pan with a little extra olive oil if things are looking dry. Cook the mushrooms until they’re sticky and caramelised, then add the chicken livers and the asparagus and shake over the heat for a few seconds.

Divide into bowls, drizzle a bit of dressing over and then add chopped parsley. SFG

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Photographs: David Straight

Tucked away down a back alley behind Golden Dawn, what was once a travelling grill has become a permanent fixture of Ponsonby Road. There is a massive open plan kitchen and lots of blackened steel – festooned with fairground bulbs – and saloon-style wooden chairs and raw timber, along with an ominious-looking bull painted on the back wall. It is particularly inviting at night.

For meat like this, though, we’ll forgive the fairground / industrial fit out: the owners have imported an industrial sized smoker from the States. It goes on in the morning and runs late into the evening, creating beautifully tender meat with a subtle pohutukawa smoke. There are other things on the menu – recently we ate freshly shucked Pacific oysters from Kaipara, natural with a shallot dressing and the perfect sort of accompaniment to slow-cooked meat. Other items feel like an afterthought: we weren’t enthused by the buttermilk fried chicken, which was bland, or an undressed salad with pecans and goat’s cheese. We ate some chips but they were just expensive.

Doesn’t matter. Go for barbecue: venison ribs ($26) come plastered in a glossy house made barbecue sauce, rich with honey and thyme. The short rib ($32) is given full flavour by smoking on the bone, and comes with tangy pickles. And the brisket ($32) is a beautifully tender, full-flavoured piece of meat with a subtle red tinge from the charcoal. KR

HOURS Monday to Sunday, 11am until 3pm, 5pm until 11pm.

ADDRESS Lot 3, 130 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, ph 360-4075.

IMPORTANT DETAILS Coming soon: meat for breakfast.



Photographs: David Straight

Rockefeller is an oyster and champagne bar in in a fantastic old brick warehouse on a windswept expanse of Fanshawe Street, a relic of a former age when this was the edge of the harbour and and there were no buses or cars racing to get to the motorway. It’s classic in the way you’d expect an oyster bar to be – heavy timber beams, exposed brick walls, marble and butcher’s tiles – but there are also mod lights and a touch of industrial punk. There’s also a highly excellent soundtrack: it’s owned by Camilla Martin (bFM, among other things) and Tim Arnold (Pluto).

The service is great and so is the champagne – what a list! – but most importantly, they do an excellent Negroni. You sit in the window and there is a sense of the city rushing and heaving around you: eating oysters is all about time and contemplation of something incredibly simple. We’ve eaten Nelson Bay Kono oysters ($6 a pop) and a mixed dozen ($38) of Kaipara Pacifics and some beautiful, creamy, intense Te Matukus from Waiheke Island. They also do some of the best hand-cut chips in town – they are mammoth, crunchy on the outside and perfectly fluffy inside, great big builder finger chips.

We’ve eaten the “Member of the Board” ($39) platter of seasonal fish and that was pretty good, but after the deathly simple elegance of an oyster, it seemed somehow too complicated. We plan to come here often and eat chips and oysters and drink Negronis. What else do you need? SFG

HOURS Tuesday and Saturday, 4pm until late; Wednesday to Friday, 12pm until late.

ADDRESS 104 Fanshawe Street, City, ph 379-4209.

IMPORTANT DETAILS You can book, and make sure you do – this joint is quickly becoming the local for corporates around the area.




The hilarious name, a badly translated menu (some of it’s in German?), the picture of Helen Clark circa 1996, and a chance to meet the owner – Grumpy Dumpling Lady – are reasons enough to visit Chinese Dumpling King. Situated next door to the fish market in the Lim Supermarket complex on New North road, it’s cheap eating at its finest.

The owner is wonderfully rude, but will point out recommendations to speed up your ordering. Basically she’ll tell you what you’re having – just roll with it. Most recently we ate lamb and beef dumplings ($8.50 for 20), beautifully savoury, albeit a little dry, shredded pancake with chicken ($8.50) and pork with round bean ($12.00), with sautéed green beans, garlic and pork loin – tender and sweet.

The dumplings are great: thick, flavourful and freshly made by hand each day. Get in early enough and you’ll see the ladies of the house sitting at the back of the restaurant gossiping away while they make them. And you really should try the eggplant with pepper and chilli: sticky, melting pieces of Chinese eggplant, cooked with garlic, carrot and little flecks of Sichuan pepper. Enjoy piping hot while your lips slowly numb. KR

HOURS Monday to Sunday, 11am until 10pm.

ADDRESS 949 New North Road, Auckland, ph 815 3858.

IMPORTANT DETAILS They sell frozen dumplings to take away – $12 for three bags with basic fillings. Be sure to consult the cooking instructions – they’re helpfully stuck to the wall above the freezer.






You came from as far afield as Flat Bush and Birkdale and Henderson Valley and we’re very glad you did.

At Masu by Nic Watt last night, we ate some of the finest Japanese food we’ve yet tasted, with accompanying sakes – there was a dish of cold soba with a beautiful crab stock and little flaked pieces of crab, and a dish of foraged herbs with a yuzu dressing and tiny little radishes, slightly bitter and beautiful on the plate. There was rabbit – rabbit! – two ways and salmon three ways including one with charred kombu, the flavours interplaying and receding, refined and delicate and yet strong. The sakes were alternately dry and sweet and one was even funky in the way that a reductive wine is. They went beautifully with the food.

In short, we loved our dinner at Masu. Thank you to everyone who came and thank you to Meg Abbott-Walker for looking after us.