Britomart’s refurbished heritage buildings on Auckland’s waterfront are home to award winning restaurants and upmarket bars. The vibrant downtown precinct is the go-to place for after work drinks, group dining, couples nights out and live music. If you’re looking for ambient drinks establishments as well as great eateries - from casual drop-in, to fine dining restaurants - then be sure to check out some of these popular Britomart haunts.
1. Milse - Sweet treat decadence
Roasted pear, apple and frangipane tart; salted caramel & hazelnut chocolates; honey, apple, feijoa & cinnamon gateaux - these are just a few of the decadent patisserie treats on offer at Milse, Britomart’s dedicated sweets and dessert restaurant. Don’t linger in the patisserie though, head on back through into the elegant dining room and bar where you can indulge your sweet tooth with one of their à la carte desserts or, if you prefer, the degustation menu carefully matched with champagne, dessert wines and spirits.
Recommended: patisserie macarons, chocolates or cakes to take away.
Location: 27 Tyler Street, The Pavilions. Mon - Sun: 10.00am - late.
2. Orleans - Southern style food & ambience
The new kid on the Britomart block, quirky and cosy Orleans is a popular hangout for the after work drinks crowd. It has both al fresco seating and a more sultry, candle-lit indoor setting. The cocktail menu is pure 19th century New Orleans, while the food is inspired by Southern-style cuisine.
The menu features small and big bowls for sharing, with options such as chicken waffle with sage butter & chipotle syrup, pork spare ribs with bbq sauce, jambalaya balls and savannah flank steak. The Po Boy is a classic Louisiana-style sandwich and if you’re extra hungry, one of the fried chicken, pulled pork or wild venison options will do the trick. You can enjoy live music here Wednesday to Saturday with the cool sounds of blues, jazz and soul and regular DJs, adding to the ambience.
Recommended: The gumbo, jambalaya balls, chicken waffle, curly fries, butterscotch dessert.
Location: 48 Customs Street East. Mon - Fri: 11.30am - late, Sat/Sun 4pm - late.
3. Ostro - Food with a view
Josh Emett, he of Masterchef New Zealand fame, is the head chef of Ostro, a modern brasserie & bar on the second floor of the Seafarers Building. Not only can diners enjoy his sumptuous international-style cuisine, they’re also treated to a sweeping view of Waitemata Harbour.
The menu is seasonal and strives for freshness, as well as elegant presentation. You can expect perfectly cooked seafood and steak dishes, such as: steamed snapper with mussels and leeks; roast canterbury lamb rump and slow braised angus short rib. For those with a more delicate appetite, there are tantalising pasta dishes: roast scampi risotto, braised duck agnolotti. If you have room, then ponder a full spectrum of desserts including bombe alaska, brandy snaps and black forest eton mess.
Recommended: Kingfish crudo, smoked kahawai omelette, the steak.
Location: Level 2, 52 Tyler Street. Mon - Sun: 12pm - late.
4. Cafe Hanoi - Upmarket Asian
Don’t let the word ‘cafe’ fool you, this popular Vietnamese eatery is all restaurant. Experience the fresh, lively flavours of Vietnamese cooking, a beautiful contemporary space and helpful, attentive staff at Cafe Hanoi.
This is an ideal place for a meal with a group of friends, with plenty of shared plates to tempt a range of tastes and appetites. The emphasis is on fresh, organic ingredients with herbs and spices particular to Vietnamese cooking: lemongrass, chilli, tamarind and lime.
Relive your memories of backpacking through Vietnam with the selection of street food signatures dishes such as: the pancake with pork and shrimp, traditional beef noodle soup or peppered soy shaking beef. They have a no reservations policy, but if you go early enough you’ll get a table.
Recommended: Caramelised pork hot pot, twice cooked BBQ pork ribs, wontons.
Location: Cnr Galway & Commerce Sts. Mon - Fri: 12 noon until late; weekends: 5.00pm to late.
5. XuXu Dumpling Bar - Intimate cocktails and asian-inspired tapas
Located in Commerce Street, XuXu (pronounced Su-Su) is Cafe Hanoi’s sister bar and the place they’ll recommend you to hang out at while you wait for a table. Still, it isn’t a chore. XuXu can hold its own nicely in the nibbles and drinks department. You can settle in at this softly lit cosy nook, either inside or outside, with your friends, without feeling the need to gulp and run.
As their name suggests, they specialise in handmade dumplings but also offer asian-inspired tapas such as: stuffed baby squid & marinated pork, vietnamese dried beef with lime & vegetable spring rolls. They also have a great selection of dessert wines and cocktails, a perfect reason to return at the end of the evening.
Recommended: Xuxulicious cocktail with lychee and chilli infused gin, tamarind mule with lime, mint & ginger beer, chili & ginger fish skewers.
Location: Cnr Commerce & Galway Streets. Mon-Sat: 4.00pm - late.
6. Ortolana - Boutique bistro dining
With a comfortable neighbourhood dining feel, Ortolana serves delicious seasonal dishes with a European twist. All ingredients are locally sourced from their own farm out west and the seating is either al fresco or indoors, watching the chefs flit around the kitchen as they work their magic.
Choose from exotic sounding dishes such as: chicken cotoletta, herb fazzoletti, gypsy salad with goddess dressing. Yes, Ortolana is one of those places where you’re not quite sure what will arrive in front of you, but that’s half the fun. Sweets and desserts come courtesy of Milse, located right next door. A clever way to keep diners firmly ensconced in Ortolana and lingering over handmade valrhona chocolates, pine nut and honey tart or crema fritta.
Recommended: Pumpkin ravioli, brussel sprouts with lime & walnut, dry cured pork, kale chips.
Location: 31 Tyler Street, The Pavilions. 7 days: 7.00am-11.00pm.
7. L’Assiette - French classics
Run by French owners, Romain and Natalie, who met while making pizza in Chamonix, L’Assiette offers a contemporary French interior and a small but tasty bistro dinner menu. If you’re looking for intimate dining and traditional French cooking then this place will do nicely. L’Assiette also screen a French film on the last Monday of every month when you purchase the three course set menu, bookings are required for this.
Recommended: Steak frites, savoury galettes, dessert crepes
Location: 9 Britomart Place. Mon - Sun: 7.00am - late.
Author Credit: Angela Pearse
Photo Credit: Ostro Bar & Brasserie - Fearonhay.com