May 6, 2022 Metro Eats
When news hit that Wahlburgers was coming to New Zealand (taking over the old Euro spot of all places, poor Euro), we were all thinking the same thing: would Marky Mark be flying over and making an appearance in Aotearoa? Like, how much does Mark Wahlberg really care about his fast-food burger joint beyond the website claiming that the takeout menu is “inspired by real family dishes from the Wahlberg kitchen?”
This announcement coincided very neatly with Eater’s series How to be Food Famous, which, among other things, also looks at How Much Celebrities are Really Involved With Their Restaurant. The concept of a celebrity restaurant is rich for discourse – it really is a perfect culmination of ego, and vanity, and the excesses of restaurant-branding, and the general ickiness of hype. Could anyone forget when Pitbull opened a Miami Grill here on Federal St, where the dining experience apparently included vocal additions of Pitbull’s voice proclaiming, “Mr Worldwide!” and “Mr International!” to innocent diners? Or when Salt Bae, of Salt Bae meme fame, opened a restaurant and videos flooded social media of him carving up steaks and adding an extra sprinkle of salt on top in signature Salt Bae style, dressed in the same white tee he wore in the viral meme? And everyone was like, why is this incredibly specific and gratuitous experience which rests on the premise of a viral meme so expensive?
Although Miami Grill crashed and burned here in Tāmaki, celebrity restaurants can be incredibly lucrative (Channing Tatum has one?! Nobu was originally pitched by Robert De Niro? Sorry if this is all old, boring information), and serve to further a celebrity’s brand, although as the article points out, mileage does vary on how much they’re actually involved in the restaurant. I think it’s safe to say that slapping a famous person’s name on something does get people talking about it; there’s an inherent pull in the power of celebrity, even if we’d like to pretend there isn’t.
P.S. If you can believe it, the above linked Stuff article reports it is “pegged” that Wahlberg will be making an appearance for the launch alongside his brothers and business partners Donnie and Paul. He cares!
Two pop-ups at East St Hall these next couple weeks: Baby G is slinging its burgers on Wednesday 11 May, serving up a $45 set menu which will include a cheeseburger, iceberg lettuce wedge, French fries and a glass of wine/beer/non-alc option. Then, SUN/DAY is popping up at East Street Hall on Sunday 15 May with tacos and margaritas. It’ll be part of a market day which will also see stalls from vintage clothing stores, plus DJs too.
Black Estate is coming to Auckland, bringing with them a selection of wines to match the food at a Winemaker’s Harvest Dinner at Britomart restaurant Kingi, on Sunday 15 May.
Passa Passa is on the tools again, also on Sunday 15 May, setting up outside OPEN cafe on Karangahape Rd, from 12-4pm. BTW, I tried a pizza fritta at the Balmoral Street Food Market last week, and it was very tasty imo! Perfect hand-sized plate to cart around and have at a night market – fried bread with toppings, basically.
Gochu is collaborating with Garage Project for Gochu & Friends Part 2, teaming up for an evening of street snacks from Gochu, plus classic (and new) beersies from Garage Project. That’s on Thursday 19 May, 5pm-late.
Last night, we went for a team dinner at Alma , Auckland’s Best Smart Restaurant (according to us at last year’s Metro Restaurant of the Year Awards), and it was a delight. All fiery, smoky flavours, with sauces that you wanna dip your finger into a lick (even though it’s sharing-plates style and you probably don’t want to do that). Our server insisted we get the anchovy and tomato tostada, which is likely the Alma-signature and one of the tasiest bites I’ve had in recent memory – that long, mellow saltiness of the anchovies paired with the sharp, bright tomato spread and a luscious, loud crunch of the tostada. Yum!
We had a pie at the Crafty Baker in Titirangi Village which was encased in such good pastry: that moreish buttery-ness, flaky but with enough structure to hold in the generous saucy filling.
We also went for lunch at Ajisen Ramen in Newmarket, and two of us had the black tonkotsu ramen that is smacking with that good good black garlic oil. Me because I wanted it, and Simon because he copied me. A testimony from him: “I ate the same thing that Jean did so she wouldn’t make fun of me, and it was delicious.”
I had a little dessert sampler box from Claudia at Sweet Cheeks on the weekend, picked up from her soon-to-be-opened restaurant, Burnt Butter Diner , in Avondale. My favourite of the four was the lemon meringue pie – I am a sucker for meringue, and hers was so fluffy and light that I melted right into it.
A reminder that the sandwiches at the Hare and the Turtle are so, so delicious! I had some of the Smokey Bro, which had this smoked fish patê paired with aromatic crispy shallots (one of my favourite things in the world) and I think it was the best thing I ate on the weekend.
Yesterday, I visited Wendy Lau at Folds Patisserie, a new pastry shop on Dominion Rd. It first came to my attention via my mum, who keeps a keen eye on the food scene (I’ll probably be receiving a text about this sentence later) and likes to let me know what’s going on. Especially so when it’s Asian-inspired pastries, with flavours that seem rare elsewhere (who else does ondeh ondeh?). I was intrigued, so I decided to have a chat with her. You can read the full story, and find out more about her new venture here.
There’s a new eatery and “tequeria”, De Nada, opening in the Mount Eden Village soon.