When it came to Auckland dining destinations, Chancery once set the bar for food and fashion-loving Aucklanders.
Piqued as the place to be for those craving a taste of the crème de la crème of urban offerings, somewhere along the line, Chancery lost its cool. It came as a great surprise then, to learn that an innovative new Hispanic eatery had moved into town, occupying the corner of Chancery and O'Connell Streets, and trailblazing a new style of Spanish fare that's more akin to some of Melbourne's swankiest establishments.
Fittingly named after the ancient Incan sun god, Inti is an inspired new eatery occupying one of the best heritage buildings in the city. What once stood as Meat Fish Wine, is now a contemporary Spanish establishment spearheaded by executive chef Javier Carmona, previously of the Mouthful Group – think Orleans, Ortolana and Beirut – boasting a spacious brass-clad bar, multiple private dining tables and a menu the solar deity would be proud of.
Here, you'll enjoy contemporary dining at its best. Deconstructed Hispanic classics are reimagined from the ground up, offering an entirely unique look and feel. After relocating from Sydney to Auckland several years ago, Javier is all too familiar with the local culinary climate, and adds that in order to stay relevant and offer guests an experience worth revisiting, the menu must evolve.
"We've changed the format to offer something a little more relaxed. As much as we want to offer something creative and contemporary, we're also offering an environment that people feel comfortable in," says Javier.
"We're trying to create a space that's a little bit looser and really engaging. The idea is that once a month we'll open up on Sundays, when we're usually closed, to offer a pop-up and do something a little bit different.
"We're also trying to do something engaging and creative, as well, instead of just resting on our laurels and saying 'this is ok.' It's important for me to be continuously challenged and challenging the team, the upside with that is that it's great for the customer."
Refining an element of surprise while remaining true to the principles of Hispanic cuisine resounds throughout Javier's ever-evolving menu. You'd be hard-pressed to find a taco or refried bean quesadilla here, yet traditional flavour pairings have been treated with respect, showcased front and centre within each intricately designed dish.
"I think that's the way it should be – always changing. We might switch up a menu every week, it's all about seasonality. The freedom to switch things up, is pretty cool. At the end of the day, we're creating a dining space that people want to revisit, we want people to feel as though they're trying something that's truly unique."
During our lunchtime visit, we begin with the green chorizo 65 deg egg, salted pepitas and wood sorrel – a contemporary take on your classic chorizo and egg combination that's full of flavour and vibrancy, striking a beautiful balance between heat and imagination. A smear of chlorophyll visually ignites this deliciously versatile dish, harnessing everything we love most about Hispanic food in a single, spicy mouthful.
Next it's the vibrant, electric pink ceviche, dressed with red cabbage leche de tigre, salted tamarillo and sweet potato – a showstopper that's delightfully light, while the decadent dessert options, like the vanilla queso of burnt pineapple, cucumber ice, lemon verbena and seeds, resembles an Italian granita and tastes like a deconstructed Splice. Provided it's 4pm on a Friday afternoon, it's hard to look past the stellar cocktail list. Simply put, Inti is a sensory experience that'll stick with you long after you leave.
Carmona has curated his menu – in all its intricate glory – to fall under three different categories. There's the antojitos, or "small cravings" to start, the streets, dishes inspired by the simple principals of Spanish street food, the old world meets new world culinary homage and desserts or 'dulce' to finish.
Throughout the carefully curated interior, there are handfuls of private dining spaces on offer, with a Hispanic-inspired wall work by aerosol artist, Flox, complementing the modern polished concrete bar, gold adornments and slick copper finishings. This is a space that's been created to suit all occasions, from larger parties to intimate dining experiences.
Whether you're craving the full feast or a post-work cocktail, Inti surprises at every turn.
Corner of O’Connell and Chancery Streets,
Tuesday – Saturday,