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Esther

$$ Chef: Sean Connolly (creative director of food, beverage), James Laird (executive chef)
4 Viaduct Harbour Ave, Waterfront
  • Closes 10:00am
  • Mon
    6.30am - 10.30am, 12pm - 3pm, 5.30pm - late
  • Tue
    6.30am - 10.30am, 12pm - 3pm, 5.30pm - late
  • Wed
    6.30am - 10.30am, 12pm - 3pm, 5.30pm - late
  • Thu
    6.30am - 10.30am, 12pm - 3pm, 5.30pm - late
  • Fri
    6.30am - 10.30am, 12pm - 3pm, 5.30pm - late
  • Sat
    7am - 11am, 5.30pm - late
  • Sun
    7am - 11am, 5.30pm - late
09 379 9123 estherrestaurant.com
Metro Favourites
Baked saganaki, Salt-baked Leigh line-caught snapper
Awards
Finalist — Best New Restaurant
Metro Favourites
Baked saganaki, Salt-baked Leigh line-caught snapper
Awards
Finalist — Best New Restaurant
$$ Chef: Sean Connolly (creative director of food, beverage), James Laird (executive chef)
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Mediterranean cuisine in an airy hotel restaurant by creative director Sean Connolly.

The city has experienced a sudden deluge of hotel restaurants in the past year or so, but Esther at QT Auckland is easily one of the most impressive. It’s big, grand, with a very cool-looking open kitchen; the fit-out has pops of Mediterranean influence without looking kitsch. There is a lot of warmth, with softly glowing lights, textured rattan chairs and earthy ceramics that evoke a sense of summer, even when the weather here isn’t quite cooperating.
Sean Connolly left SkyCity in 2019 to take the reins at QT, aiming to emulate the old-world techniques and dishes of the Med’s sun-soaked shores, from Sicily to Morocco. It’s all big flavours, reaching the heights of salty, sour, sweet and a little spicy. You start with complimentary puffed bread (always welcome), straight out of the woodfired oven, with a tasty taramasalata. From there, you’ll notice there’s a focus on sustainable, fresh seafood, but also meats where smoky, chargrilled flavours come forth throughout. The lamb souvlaki is delicious, as is the freshly ground steak tartare. We’re also partial to the communal options — like a salt-baked snapper or the Bistecca Fiorentina, a Tuscan steak speciality — so everyone can dig in from all corners of the table. For a little nightcap, QT also has a rooftop bar with a wide-ranging view over Wynyard Quarter.

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