It’s been a busy time of restaurant openings of late, amongst them - La Marée at the new-look Sofitel in Auckland’s Viaduct. Headed up by renowned Michelin-starred chef Marc de Passorio and New Zealand’s first Masterchef winner Tim Read, the experience is well worth heading to town for.
A few weeks ago I met my eldest son for dinner at La Marée. As we recovered from the hilarious revelation that we had both arrived in identical outfits (black jeans, shirts and jackets), we made our way through the glamorous Sofitel lobby through to the restaurant overlooking the water. The attentive staff greeted us in French, setting the tone for a sophisticated but not stuffy evening of delicious food and outstanding wine.
Cured Hapuka with Citrus
The restaurant is broken up into sections, providing a combination of larger and more intimate spaces, bar and open kitchen. We immediately settled into our seats and were presented with that day’s amuse bouche – Cured Hapuka Dressed in Yuzu and Confit Lemon with a Shallot Shard and Orange Oil, which Tim usually refers to simply as ‘Cured Hapuka with Citrus’. It was a spectacular start to the meal, with clean, fresh flavours and beautiful texture.
Lobster Bisque with Espelette Pepper, Lobster Tortellini, Coriander and Deer Milk
My next course was Scallops Grilled on Lava Stone with Smoked Balsamic, Beetroot, Pomegranate, Lemon Caviar and Horopito (pictured at the top of this page). The presentation was absolutely stunning, and equally delicious. My son began with the dish I had next, Lobster Bisque with Espelette Pepper, Lobster Tortellini, Coriander and Deer Milk. The bisque was so utterly rich and decadent that we requested more bread so we could mop it up to the very last drop. For a main, Henry had Poached Octopus Finished on the Grill with Garlic, Watercress Cream, Yuzu Vinaigrette and Passionfruit. He declared the octopus to be tender and perfectly complimented by the dish’s other components.
During the evening we enjoyed several wonderful glasses of wine, starting with a Riesling from Hans Herzog in Marlborough. The wine list is cleverly curated and extensive, and the attentive sommelier adept at explaining the nuances to watch out for in each one.
Despite being tempted by a small but well thought out dessert selection, we both settled on a shared plate of Forme d’Ambert Blue Cheese and Crackers. (But next time I may have to give that Roasted Hazelnut Sponge with Salted Caramel Sponge, Candied Hazelnuts and Hazelnut Mousse a go…)
I was always going to enjoy my meal at La Marée, thanks to sharing it with my son. The icing on the cake was to discover a perfectly pitched new restaurant for an evening out. Huge congratulations to the team, and thanks to Tim for his humble manner – belying the exquisite food he produces.
21 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, CBD, Auckland