I lunched at the Conservatory in Auckland with a group during Fashion Week, and my first thought was: Oh! I’ve been past here before! To be precise, when the new Wynyard Quarter first opened up, T and I came to the nearby Auckland Fish Market, then ventured out to the waterfront for a looksee. The new eateries were expensive and not really to our style, so this is my first Wynyard dining experience. However, I remembered this particular restaurant for the woven capsule seats outside, suspended between roof and ground by chains, which we stopped to admire.
We’ll start with the good, shall we? The portions are generous. The wine list is enormous, taking up almost all the pages in the menu, with food only accounting for the last couple. I had the seafood salad, which was delicious – mussels, prawns, scallops, salmon, with green salad, crispy noodles and what I think was a drizzle of soy. Light, very well balanced and pretty fresh. (What is proper etiquette for eating crispy fried noodles, by the way? They were in pieces too large to comfortably fork but too hard to cut – a diner sent a piece flying into her neighbour’s lap that way.) I would’ve loved if they’d removed the prawn tails and even the scallop roe, but I am a child.
I also sampled the Conservatory pizza (a light touch with prosciutto, salami and tomato) and potato chunks, their take on the classic side of chips. These were absolutely enormous – about half a potato’s worth each – and perfectly cooked, served with a strangely orange aioli that turned out to have a hint of chili and paprika.
There are just three desserts available (raspberry mousse served with lemonchello syrup and cream/mixed berry tiramisu served with a berry compote/duo decedent chocolate pudding) but all sound divine. I would’ve liked to have tried them all, but alas, dessert was not part of our visit.
An aside: while for some reason the menu drops an all-important ‘s’ off ‘desserts’ and randomly apostrophises ‘pizzas’, below that, amusingly, reads the phrase 18 inches (as measured by a woman). Yes, the pizzas are ginormous, though none of us had a ruler to hand.
Other elements failed to impress. We were seated in the sheltered (plastic sheeted) conservatory outside facing the water. Some of the black-covered chairs, however, were adorned with questionable white stains that resembled bird poop. One of our group noticed that the bottles on our table were somewhat scummy looking, resulting in cloudy water and floaties. And the Caesar salad was the last meal – by a significant margin – to arrive, by which time the first couple of dishes had gone cold while sitting (Caesar salad, of all things!)
So, a mixed bag. Some attention to detail wouldn’t go amiss (they weren’t hugely busy during our visit, and had only just opened for the day by the looks of it). YMMV.