I hope everyone out there had a lovely Christmas and New Year's break!
For this third instalment of my New Zealand series, we up the ante and go for a fancier establishment. In any city I visit, I usually make it my mission to include at least one higher-end dining experience in my plans. O'Connell St Bistro, an Auckland stalwart of close to two decades, got my pick after I did some research - and it turned out to be just around the corner from our hotel.
The bistro's dining room gives you the sense that it's blending the old with the new. Housed in an older building, it an exclusive clubhouse when entering the cosy dining space. Sit down though, and you will notice cool minimalistic mushroom lamps adorning each table. One thing I did find a little odd was the fact that for every lovely linen tablecloth, there was also a sheet of paper covering the table. It's not the first time I've seen this done at a pricier restaurant, and I must say I'm not a big fan of this tendency, as I feel that it's a cheap look and feel.
My first course was beautifully presented and tasted as good as it looked. To really appreciate this dish, one has to bear in mind that this was a study in quieter flavours: a leek terrine with pickled shiitake mushrooms, Clevedon Buffalo ricotta, preserved lemon, panko crumbed globe artichoke & walnut dressing. Looking at this photo, you'll understand why I chose this as my blog's Facebook cover photo, and why the restaurant itself keeps a photo of this dish on prominent display on its own website even though it isn't currently serving it: