Auckland’s city centre will be buzzing once again this August with a spectacular line-up of dining events and over 100 special menus on offer in celebration of Auckland Restaurant Month.
Walk down any street in Auckland’s city centre and you’re bound to find a restaurant or bar that takes your fancy. From fine dining along Federal Street to a low-key burger joint in downtown Britomart, you could almost get lost amongst the city’s maze of laneways in pursuit of the perfect meal.
This August, Auckland Restaurant Month invites you to eat your heart out in the heart of the city. Following an incredibly tough year for the restaurant and hospitality industry amidst COVID-19, Auckland Restaurant Month presents an exciting opportunity for you to show your support and explore the very best that the city has to offer. With over 100 special menus on offer across the city, from Wynyard Quarter to Vulcan Lane and everywhere in between, punters can enjoy a month-long celebration of the city’s best dining options. And all at an affordable price. Set menus will be offering $25, $40 and $55+ options to suit every budget and taste while a host of ticketed Chef’s Tables and Extraordinary Evenings will also be on the month-long menu.
Chief among them will be the Chef’s Table at Euro and MASU Unleashed featuring Nic Watt. We spoke to both Chef’s about their upcoming events and asked them what ticket-goers can expect.
Chef’s Table at Euro – August 5th
Hosted by Nourish Group Executive Gareth Stewart and Euro Head Chef Uelese Mua, Chef’s Table at Euro will treat diners to 6-courses with wine matching from their new winter menu (click here to read our review of their new menu).
If you've been to Euro in year’s past, you may have memories of a very high-end, polished dining experience. And while the attention to detail has never wavered, the new Euro is ‘far more relaxed and casual’ as Nourish Group Executive Gareth Stewart puts it “We lost the white table cloths, waiters in ties and white aprons. We want our diners to feel less intimidated so that they can just enjoy the experience. The sharing concept also allows for a more casual dining experience and gives the opportunity to have more food on the table to talk about and taste.” he adds.
The whole world was, and still is, affected by COVID-19 but the restaurant and hospitality industry in particular were hard hit. And the transformation of Euro’s dining experience is in-part a reflection of that. Gareth explains “My main focus was to make sure that when people come to dine with us that it is a really memorable time as going out to dine is a real treat with the uncertainty of job losses and the stress of income. When people come to our restaurant, we should be thankful that they have made the choice to come to us, given the choices in town. Now, more than ever, we must give our guests the feeling of wanting to come back and experience the best hospitality and beautiful food.”
Building on that point, Gareth says he is excited about Restaurant Month “as people get the chance to get out and try those restaurants that have long been on their lists. It gives people a reason to dine out at least once a week but usually more as there are restaurants offering real value. We also get to showcase what we have to offer to a whole new audience that otherwise would have forgotten about your restaurant or just never gotten round to making it in.”
When asked about what he most wants diners to try from his new menu this August, Gareth wasn’t shy in his response “Try everything! There is a lot of food on offer, so make sure you leave room for desserts. We recommend getting the wine match to pair with the table menu.” And try people have – Gareth explains “We have already converted a lot of people into pigs’ ear lovers. As we have a sharing concept now at Euro, it encourages our guests to try a variety of different dishes all with their own identity and flavor profiles.”
If you’re unfamiliar with French cuisine or simply overwhelmed by choice, Gareth and the team at Euro have designed the table menu to take the decision making out of the equation and instead serve you up with their favourite dishes (unfortunately, the chef's table has already sold out but you can still enjoy Euro's winter menu until the end of August).
MASU Unleashed featuring Nic Watt – August 27th
What do you get when you cross a highly-acclaimed chef with a legendary team of filmmakers? For now at least, the answer is as murky as the Mines of Moria. But you can guarantee that it will be unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
This one-of-a-kind evening will see you exploring the fantastical world of Wētā Workshop Unleashed as you are treated to appetisers designed by chef and restauranteur Nic Watt of MASU. Diners will meander their way through the workshop, trying to avoid what lurks in the shadows, before arriving to an exclusive four-course dinner with expertly matched wines.
As the mastermind behind the menu, Nic says the collaboration was a huge challenge to ensure that the food experience stayed real but still had all the flair and curiosity that Weta brings and excites. And while he has no intention of having ‘Gollum popping out of a cake,’ ticket-goers should expect the unexpected.
Speaking of the unexpected, Nic says that COVID-19 was a huge challenge for the restaurant industry but that the support of team members and customers alike have help kept things afloat. And he believes that Auckland Restaurant Month will be the perfect opportunity to showcase that support. “I love being involved in Restaurant Month, as it is a celebration of Auckland, a celebration of the city.” he explained.
Unlike his clandestine collaboration with Wētā Workshop Unleashed, Nic believes that the experience in his own restaurants MASU and INCA are enhanced by open environments, where the heat of the action is on full display “I try and always give my customers the opportunity to watch the chefs prepare their meals, as all my kitchens are open-theatre. At MASU and INCA they can see the fire and feel the heat and atmosphere within the kitchen.”
The key to evolving that experience he says is customer feedback, something he has taken to heart when putting together his offering for the chef’s table at MASU this August 12th “We always listen to customer feedback and if there is a common thread, we work towards that. I think our chefs table will be a huge success for both the guests and our own experience.”
Social Hour – August 1st to August 31st (4pm – 6.30pm Tue to Thu only)
New on the menu during this year's Auckland Restaurant Month is The Social Hour, the perfect excuse to arrange a catch-up with friends or colleagues or a little rendezvous with your significant other. Enjoy a quick bite to eat washed down with some of the finest hand-crafted cocktails in the city.
With pairings like an Oolong tea infused whisky cocktail matched with dim sum or a Negroni imbued with smoke and chardonnay matched with kawakawa gouda croquettes, The Social Hour’s very reasonable $40 (or $20 per person) for two cocktails and a sharing plate will please the palate and your wallet.
To learn more about Auckland Restaurant Month including all the participating venues and to book tickets to special events, visit heartofthecity.co.nz/restaurant-month