33 Sale St, central city. Ph 358-1702, clooney.co.nz.
Lunch Friday, dinner Tuesday-Sunday. $$$
Best degustation / Runner-up, best smart-dining restaurant / Finalist, best chef: Des Harris / Finalist, best service / Finalist, best drinks list
If you’ve not yet treated yourself to the experience of walking into Auckland’s best room for the first time, make 2014 the year you do it. Circular leather booths, string curtains, high ceilings and low lighting give Clooney a cool, very international feel. And the food is fantastic too: chef Des Harris is a master of constructing a dish, using modern techniques and unexpected flavour combinations to make every mouthful sing. The service, in the hands of manager Gary Olasz, has never been better — staff strike an excellent balance between formality and friendliness, and they know everything about your food. Given the perfectionism in the kitchen, you get the feeling they’d be too scared not to.
A favourite dish: Chlorophyll “risotto” of grains, pecorino, crème fraîche, radish.
Fixed-price meals / Degustation / Good for vegetarians / Free-range chicken and/or pork / Private room / Takes large groups / Bar / Craft beer selection