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Blog: But were her cheeks flushed?

Blog: But were her cheeks flushed?

Aug 30, 2012 etc

Sat down for dinner last night opposite Nici Wickes, Viva’s restaurant critic, who had written just that morning of how, when she tasted a dish at The Commons in Takapuna, her companion had told her she looked like she’d just had sex.

I asked if she had known him long. Oh, about 10 minutes, she said. Which prompted the man sitting next to me to observe that that was plenty long enough. Nici thought it was because her cheeks were flushed. In my experience, watching her in other restaurants, her cheeks are quite often flushed.

We were at Dine by Peter Gordon, for an event called A Taste of Federal Street, which is a three-course meal offered by Sky City’s three celebrity chefs – Gordon, Al Brown from Depot and Sean Connolly from The Grill – as part of Auckland Restaurant Month.

Brown did the starter, a slurpable concoction in which Tio Point oysters were overwhelmed by hunks of scampi. It was, I thought, a brutally unfair thing to do to oysters, but any dish which uses oysters as the background to something even better is going to be impressive, and so it was.

Connolly’s main was steak and chip. That’s not a typo. Just one chip: a very thick finger of potato, sautéed on one side, injected full of a chicken and herb stock, and baked off. Gorgeous. The meat was a soft lump of wagyu, which many people also find gorgeous. To my taste, it’s so soft it’s almost like it’s been reconstituted. And it’s grain fed, which is a profoundly unnecessary thing to have in our diets.

As for Gordon’s pudding, he served up his famous tapioca with mango and passionfruit, which is on my list of The Great Dishes of Auckland, and a chocolatey, malty, peanut buttery thing that was almost as scrummy.

A Taste of Federal Street doesn’t exactly present the best of the three restaurants – you don’t get the atmosphere and the experience of each, and in the case of Depot and The Grill, in my view, you don’t get the best of their food. Which is a mild criticism as it is still all very good. Plus, the three-in-one experience has virtues of its own, and it’s absolutely brilliant to sit in the really lovely Dine for a couple of hours when the place is full. It’s on again tonight – if you want to go, you should book.

As for, Nici, I feel duty-bound to report that on this occasion her cheeks did not get flushed, although her hair was distinctly tousled.

Simon Wilson, Editor

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