The Engine Room (2)
115 Queen St, Northcote Pt. Ph 480-9502, engineroom.net.nz.
Lunch Friday, dinner Tuesday to Saturday. $$
Joint runner-up, supreme award / Best upmarket bistro / Finalist, best service / runner-up, best renewal
Nine years ago, Natalia Schamroth and Carl Koppenhagen gave Auckland the kind of bistro it never knew it wanted. The Engine Room was tiny — 40 seats in a former 1930s post office — and classic: wooden bistro chairs, dark wooden floors, a hand-written blackboard menu of bistro favourites. Now, they’ve doubled the size by expanding into the building next door, moving the kitchen and creating an airy modern dining space and bar. It’s somehow more sedate — and yet so many things have stayed the same, which is sort of the point, really. The service is casual yet polished. There is still steak with café de Paris butter, schnitzel, the best soufflé in Auckland, and Thai and Middle Eastern influences too: familiar dishes, for the most part, tweaked until they are close to perfect. The Engine Room is the result of a thousand small things done like that.
A favourite dish: Chermoula lamb with bulghar, baba ghanoush and pomegranate.
Free-range chicken and/or pork / Bar / Craft beer