Metro Eats No. 10: New wine bar Candela, food happenings
Every week, we round up what’s happening in Auckland’s food scene, tell you where to eat, catch up on the latest food media happenings, and have a chat to some interesting people.
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I’m writing to you from Dunedin this week, and it’s actually not morning at all (sorry). I’m on holiday and just had dinner at No. 7 Balmac. It was a buzzy suburban restaurant, and perfectly pleasant, but what was really good was last night’s meal at Moiety, a tasting menu-only restaurant in Dunedin’s city centre. The food was distinctly different from any place I’ve eaten at in Auckland, with this interesting balance between invention and familiarity; I can’t stop thinking about a dish of teeny-tiny jersey benne potatoes served with sweet freeze-dried mandarins and walnut. Oh, and that single Mahurangi oyster topped with smoky seaweed butter – the best one I’ve had in a long time.
In other news, I recently came across this little food-and-drink book series from an Australian “micropublisher”, created to help keep their favourite food places afloat during the coronavirus pandemic – take away books, they call them. Each small paperback is an ode to its respective restaurant: their stories, recipes, and wisdom, with some of the profits going to the restaurant and the book’s creators. It’s a cool to think about all the other ways “food writing” can be disseminated, rather than the usual ways of reviews and listicles, and also think about the different ways in which how our food history can be celebrated and recorded.
I also love this illustrated directory of Australian Asian artists’ favourite food, a project called More of Something Good. Their website is full of colourful snacks, treasured restaurant meals, and written snaps of people’s greatest culinary desires. I recommend scrolling through their Instagram feed – it’s therapeutic, almost. This Mamee illustration hits home hard, because it was one of the only school snacks I properly loved that crossed over from my pre-immigration days in Malaysia to my post-immigration primary school years in New Zealand. They were MSG-laden, salty, crunchy, and slapped.
Art Boot, a spinoff from the art festival Art Ache (where you can buy art!) will be running alongside this week’s Te Atatū Food Truck Fridays. On the food truck line-up is: Eat Adlib (fried bread etc.); Mama Yoya’s (Mexican cuisine); Hungry Swine (pork belly rolls) and more. 4th December (today!) from 4pm.
A collab between Good Dog Bad Dog and Fix and Fogg are popping up this late arvo from 5-8pm with food, drinks and ice cream, too.
Gemmayze St are hosting a fundraiser dinner on Sunday 6 December for the vulnerable children of Lebanon, jointly organised by Baalbeck’s Our Lady of Good Service Orphanage and the New Zealand Lebanese community. The tickets are all sold out, but if you’re still keen to support the cause I’m sure there’s still a way to donate.
If you’re on the other side of the bridge, Vondel are hosting an end-of-year Pet Net launch party with Moi Wines (releasing their latest, Moon Shot) on the 13 December.
In cool non-Auckland news, Wanaka restaurant Ode will reopen on the 17 December, just a month and a half after announcing they had to close after a series of unfortunate events which were exacerbated by Covid. I’ve never eaten there, but glad I’ll have the chance to in the future.
Independent New Zealand food magazine Stone Soup Syndicate is going to print this week. If you have some spare $$ to donate towards their printing, so they can distribute more of them around the country, you can do so here.
I dropped into Mexican Specialties for the very first time, which apparently changed hands years ago, but still serving up food made with the same recipes as before. The Grandma cooking there reminds me of my own late grandma (almost uncannily so) and the lime drink is *chef’s kiss*.
92 Marua Rd, Ellerslie
Just a reminder that possibly my favourite cafe in all of Auckland Ark Coffee exists, and now that it’s officially summer, so does their coffee jelly as well as the espresso soft serve.
461-467 Lake Rd, Takapuna
Their Filet O’Fish was good, but I am an even bigger fan of the garlic frites at Bar Céleste (more accurately their takeaway counterpart, Cantine). Not overwhelmingly or artificially garlicky, but with an addictive flavour utterly complementary to the fries’ golden exterior.
On the radar
Hotel Ponsonby, the new restaurant in that old Augustus Bistro building, is now open. It’s owned and run by the same team behind Lilian in Grey Lynn, with a similar luxe, old-school vibe: delicate lamps, curved couches, and framed portraits of people on holiday wearing all white.
1 Saint Marys Bay Rd, Ponsonby
If anyone has any intel on that new pizza place next to Smokin’ Coles BBQ, The Master & Margherita, hit me up. It looks like they’ve been open since the beginning of November, slinging woodfired pizzas.
108 Surrey Cres, Grey Lynn
A new Korean barbeque joint, Fantasy Korean, is opening in Eden Terrace.
Shop 2/83 New North Rd, Eden Terrace
Sorted Coffee, a new small-batch hand crafted coffee roastery, has also launched. I haven’t tried their beans yet, but I’m a sucker for good packaging and, you know, supporting local.
This cute little cookbook from Coffee Pen features original illustrations, recipes, and stories which reflect the community they’ve built down Basque Rd (a little bit like the take away books I talked about above!), and a portion of the sales will be donated to Auckland City Mission and UNICEF.
Plus: Candela on Karangahape Rd
It’s possible that Karangahape Rd is about to reach peak wine bar, but let’s let Candela slide in before it does – apparently, they’ll be serving up paella. Do you realise how hard it is to find paella in Auckland?
In that old Chatime space a couple doors up from Verona, chef and owner Matthew Ross has knocked down some walls and laid down some tiles, clearing the way for an expansive, open space that will soon sit about 70-80 diners. With high ceilings and a lot of floor space, it’s a lot bigger than the narrower lots the other K’Rd wine bars are housed in.
Ross intends to use that to his advantage, leaning into music-heavy nights and late-night eats. After dinner service ends, Candela will roll over into serving pinchos, the Spanish term for bar snacks small enough to skewer on one toothpick.
With a refined wine list, their aim is to introduce Spanish wines to K’Rd, Ross says. Ross and Banik will be joined by Leola Angel King, who, Ross laughs as he talks about the wine, “knows a lot more about this stuff.”
As we talk, I get the feeling that after some years working gigs on-call as a personal chef, Ross is finally getting to cook what he wants – and where and when he wants to.
Candela is opening on Wednesday 9 December, with bookings available from today.