Photographs: David Straight
In a way, this is a bit of a farewell. Stafford Road Wine Bar has always been a very nice spot – dark timber chairs, a corner site, a good wine list and decent beer. It was the kind of place that made you think Auckland had hope; that life was spreading to its suburbs.
Then it hired Ed Verner, who had previously cooked for Meredith’s and Sidart, and a very pleasant local wine bar was suddenly serving the kind of food you’d expect to find in a fine diner – and yet which didn’t cost anything more than the very ordinary tapas you find all over the city. The produce comes from the garden out the back, or from hand-picked suppliers and it is inventive, subtle, textural – and beautifully plated. A Tio Point oyster ($4), say, freshly shucked and warmed in its shell, then served with a Maori potato stock and chips. A salad of lettuce with beetroot, buffalo yoghurt and black tahini ($9.50). A short rib ($18) so beautifully cooked it was black on the outside and pink on the inside, which we spied across the bar and then simply had to eat. And so on.
Sadly, Verner left recently to travel overseas and work in some of Europe’s most exciting eateries. Which is understandable. But restaurants are more than one chef, so here’s hoping Stafford Road carries on with what he started – because it’s a small piece of genius. SFG
HOURS Dinner from 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
ADDRESS 141 Queen St, Northcote Point, ph 480-2690. staffordroadwinebar.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS No reservations – but if you’re a large group, let them know and they’ll see what they can do.