During our recent journey of discovery to Auckland, we set out on a mission to locate intriguing breakfast, lunch and dinner venues to share with our members for their next adventure to NZ.

Ortolano3Our pick for Breakfast is a chic bistro Ortolana (meaning ‘market gardener’) in the heart of the city’s Britomart precinct.   This elegant sunlit conservatory offers a casual style dining with a menu of fresh light breakfast food, lunch and dinner seven days a week with fresh produce straight from the garden.

Over a leisurely breakfast, we enjoyed the a young romano and leek omelette and house made sausage with folded egg and tomato anOrtolano5d to finish, a hot chocolate made with pure chocolate – pure taste sensation on a cold winters morning.  If sitting inside you can enjoy the theatre of the chefs preparing each artful dish.

You know that you must have stumbled on something that is loved by visitors and locals alike when you sitting next to the NZ’s Prime Minister, John Key enjoying a casual breakfast.

You can enjoy the Ortolana’s breads and baked goods each day from their sister eatery and artisan bakery, The Store; also located within Britomart, right next to Lululemon.

Chop chopNow for our lunch discovery, the Blue Breeze Inn housed as part of the very hip Ponsonby Central, a fresh produce market, restaurant and retail shopping pop ups.   The restaurant setting is a glamorous fusion of Chinese and island paradise, with menu flavours of regional China.  

On a hussling afternoon in Ponsonby, we chose to dine at Chop Chop, the hole-in-the-wall noodle bar, created as an extension of popular street front restaurant

The Chinese influenced by menu is the craftsmanship of restaurateur Mark Wallbank and Head Chef Barrington.  Our late afternoon lunch included a menu of authentic flavours mixed with the right amount of heat in the fried chicken, soft steamed buns and killer pork belly ramon; all enjoyed with cleansing Tiger beer. 

There are two dinner venues we need to share with our members; one the newly opened United Kitchen also located in Ponsonby and Baduzzi, the little sister venue of The Grove.

United Kitchen2Let’s start with United Kitchen, an upmarket Bistro which you enter via a side door on Anglesea Street – where you literally step into the exposed kitchen to be greeted by head chef Tom Williamson.  Once seated in this intimate space, you’ll see that that Williamson (previously of Ebisu and The Oyster Inn) is perfectly stationed to see each guests reaction once the food is served.

The intimate dining room, seating a maximum of 30 guests is quite eclectic with its industrial chairs, worn wooden floors and fresh white linen.  The menu is changed every three weeks, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce and the perfect reason for diners to return regularly.   Open Tuesday – Saturday, dinner bookings for this much reviewed new kid on the Auckland dining scene are highly recommended to save disappointment.

United Kitchen offers a three-course set menu; on our visit to these new digs included Pan seared scallops w/jerusalem artichokes, purple cauliflower, truffle foam; Wild rabbit croquette w/celeriac remoulade, apple, white; and Pumpkin & amaretti tortellini w/brussel sprouts, stracciatella cheese.  

United KitchenThe main fare featured Pan seared hapuka w/ tua tua and smoked fish fritter, spinach, broccolini, beurre blanc; Lamb backstrap w/puy lentils, lamb shoulder, baby fennel, tzatziki, smoked eggplant and Saffron risotto w/heirloom tomatoes, pinenuts and basil foam.  

To finish the dance, Quince & almond tart w/yoghurt sorbet & disaronno jelly, Banana split w/flambe banana, gianduja, vanilla ice cream and Wine poached pear w/hazelnut mascarpone and blackcurrant liquor sorbet.

This is a dining experience that is a must to your next visit to the North Island!

Baduzzi2Now for our finale dining venue, Baduzzi a sophisticated Italian in Wynyard Quarter only a short stroll from the Viaduct.  The Sicilian word for ‘meatballs,’ Baduzzi is the latest collaboration between Michael Dearth, owner of the dining extravaganza The Grove, and its executive chef Ben Bayly.

A visit to Baduzzi promises casual dining with an air of sophistication and New-York Italian.  The menu features meatball dishes, mouthwatering pasta, flat iron steak to be enjoyed with the restaurants extensive wine list and on display cellar.

We kicked of our menu with a selection of the famous meatballs; Organic lamb and wild thyme w/ preserved lemon and spiced gravy and Grilled wagyu, onion gravy, salsa verde and cannellini bean.   The main course fare had to Pasta – Moon & diamond shell clam tagliatelle w fonduta of late harvest tomatoes and a new edition the soft shell crab w/nero pasta.