If you've been to Pasture (you lucky thing), you know it is very, very small and very very focused on an extremely high quality culinary experience. There are only 6 seats there, and the kitchen, where Chef Ed Verner works is almost like a stage for his food artistry. Heading to a night at Pasture, you could expect to be treated to an ever-changing degustation of artisinal, nose-to-tail, seasonal food. You'd have to leave your dietary requirements at home so it might not be for everyone but the formula did earn them an honourable mention on World’s 50 Best Discovery site and the number one spot on Metro Mag's Restaurant of the Year in 2019.
Next door at brand new bar, Boxer, the modus operandi is very similar. There are only 11 seats. The drink list aims to feature inventive and unexpected ingredients. They're offering 3 ($75 or $105 with food pairings) and 5 course ($175 with food pairing) cocktail tasting menus as well as a la carte beverages (starting at $15) and 'seafood-led bar fare'. Like pasture, the menu will rotate seasonally. And like Pasture, Boxer is led by Ed.
They're styled after Japanese listening bars where a bartender carefully selects vinyl records for patrons to listen to over high quality audio equipment (in fact they're named after one of Verner’s favorite albums by The National so music is certainly a priority here). That homage is paid through the music, chosen by Ed and Hillary Eaton (Creative Partner, culinary and travel journalist) as well as the charcoal-dark walls and blonde wood, decor. But Ed stresses that they aren't quite a 'bar' but not a ‘restaurant’ either...
And when we find that the ingredients on the drinks menu include house made cherry leaf distillate, parmesan distillate, oxidized wine and fermented white asparagus, we see this is a little more complex of an affair than your regular Aperol Spritz. Ed's love of Scandinavian cooking techniques, such as fermentation and preserving, make an appearance on the menu and he intends that they'll strike a balance with the restaurant’s Japanese minimalism, embracing simple presentation and complex flavour profiles.
“Our goal is to offer a premier, world-class cocktail and culinary experience, without taking ourselves too seriously,” says Eaton. “We want it to feel like guests are at the best dinner party of their lives.”
We'll let you be the judges, but it sounds like Boxer's drinks will be like nothing you've ever tasted.
235 Parnell Road, Auckland
Wednesday through Sunday, 5pm to midnight