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Pot Luck — Friday 7 June

The Metro Dining Newsletter

Pot Luck — Friday 7 June

Jun 6, 2024 Metro Eats

Kia ora,

It’s always fascinating when you start to notice a weird little trend gaining traction in the local dining scene. At the same time, it’s the kind of observation you necessarily need to take with a grain of salt. Sure, it might be an actual trend, but also you might just be noticing a recurring spice or dish or style of presenting food or restaurant decor because you’re desperately seeking it out. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had multiple conversations in the office about whether pizza is having a moment. Largely, what prompted this hypothesis was the announcement from Bar Céleste , a few weeks back, that they’d be dropping their beloved neo-bistro menu (which had for the most part, remained unchanged since they opened in 2019) and transforming into a whole new identity: Pizzeria Céleste – a pizza bar popup, serving New Haven-style pizza and organic wines.

On Saturday evening, I visited Pizzeria Céleste (thank you!) to try the new menu. The silver plates of market oysters and flounder in beurre noisette, once so ubiquitous at the restaurant, have been replaced by a menu of seven pizzas with that characteristic thin and crispy base (blue lip mussel was my favorite), along with a selection of suppli, cheeses, olives and other little snack-type things. Intriguingly, what used to be called “carrots rapées” (one of the best salads in the city, in my opinion) has been given a new name: “carrot salad”. Céleste was never fussy, but this evolution feels like a rather emphatic swing toward the casual. It’s hard not to feel that this evolution might also be reflective of the current state of dining, of the social milieu…maybe even of the world.

Since this shift toward pizza at Céleste, we’ve noted two more pizza openings. Ragtag has just launched a pizza pop-up called Magnolias – they had their first pop up at Saint Leonard’s Brewing in Kingsland last weekend. Then there’s the recently opened Turtle Pizza in Greenlane which was opened by the people behind Behemoth – they’re serving beer, and you guessed it, pizza (but square-shaped rather than round). 

Now, it’s up to you whether you buy this argument that three instances equates to a trend. But there’s something that feels incredibly of-this-moment-in-time about a pivot to pizza on the dining scene. A large part of this surely comes down to economics. Unlike more complex menus, pizza doesn’t necessarily require a whole lot of perishable ingredients and can be prepared ahead of service en masse. Once they’ve been ordered, they only take a few minutes to assemble and cook. At the same time, when most potential diners have less money to spare for dinners out, $30 (or thereabouts) pizzas that are big enough to be shared between two feels like a breath of fresh air.

It’s not as if the popularity of pizza is anything new or groundbreaking in this city. Aucklanders, like most humans, enjoy eating things that are fatty and rich and warm – pizzas encapsulate that kind of comfort eating perfection better than any other dish. An observation I hear a lot is that thanks to the habits we built in lockdowns and the general exhausting/horrifying experience of living in the world today, we’re all seeking out track pants and nostalgic music and pizza, apparently. So if I think about this pivot too much, it actually seems quite bleak – but at the same time, melted cheese is delicious.


— Charlotte


Comings and goings


For a certain period last year, it felt like about half of the population of Tāmaki Makaurau was holidaying in Japan, and then returning home as convenience store sando-obsessed Japanophiles. Perhaps that growing love for sandos has contributed to two new sando spots opening in the central city. The first, Sushi and Sando is located on the corner of Halsey St and Madden St. The other (yet to open) sando spot, Tartare, is opening soon on Snickel Lane in the Central City. They’re yet to announce the details of their menu but they’ll be open 11am-7pm from Monday-Saturday. 

Manuel Moreno, who started beloved taco joint Mr. Taco in the central city has just opened a new restaurant in Birkenhead called Provecho. The menu features dishes you’d often find on Mexican menus in this city; like sopes, fajitas and burritos, but also some lesser seen Mexican fare, like chilaquiles and pan de elote.

I’m kind of obsessed with the concept behind Juice Up, a new opening in Parnell that’s been described as “a hybrid between a classic dessert parlour and healthy juice bar”. They’ve got smoothie bowls and juices, but also a whole menu of waffles in a riot of flavours. And because desserts should be an anytime kind of meal, they’re open from the afternoon till late (some nights till midnight) Wednesday-Sunday.   

I’ve noticed a few address updates on the restaurant scene lately. First, Maakindii, one of my favourite central city Thai spots, is shifting from their current Queen St location to a new place at 18 Beach Rd. Then there’s Kingsland Italian restaurant Venosa, who have shifted from their original space on New North Rd, and are now sharing a space just a few doors down with dessert spot Elisabeth. And, perhaps most notable of the recent moves is the Karangahape Rd BYO stalwart Joy Bong which has just reopened on Mount Eden Rd (taking over from what was, until recently, another Thai restaurant).

Kai Cafe (not to be confused with Kai Eatery) is a new cafe on Shortland Street. Both the name of the place and the logo design led me to believe that there might be some kai Māori influence reflected on the menu. There’s not, sadly, but they do look like they make some pretty spectacular looking pancake stacks.

The Sandringham outpost of Miann seems to have quietly shut shop recently, with a new eatery called Manna Delights taking over the space. Based on what I’ve seen while driving past, they’re still yet to open but I’ll make sure to update once we have more intel.

Oh, and while wandering down Khyber Pass in Newmarket over the weekend, I noticed brand new signage on one of the buildings which said “Buffett” in huge letters. I’m unsure whether I should be anticipating a new, grand buffet restaurant in Newmarket or if this is more of a Warren Buffett kind of situation. Any leads are much appreciated.




Shiny fella

Timmur Nepalese & Indian Cuisine in Avondale.

The playlist at Wang Food Market Rosedale (included this bop on my last visit).

This New York Times recipe for Thai-Inspired Chicken Meatball Soup. (However, I’d suggest upping the fish sauce and chilli.)

McDonalds losing a trademark fight against a wee Irish burger chain. 




Filming restaurant workers without their consent. 

Restaurants/ cafes/ bars serving food on furniture that is also used for people to sit on.


Where we’re going


Roses Dining Room has a new chef in residence: Seite Yamakawa, who is currently the chef at Orphans Kitchen . He’ll be in the kitchen at Roses for the next couple of weeks cooking a menu described as “quite classic Japanese style, very clean but obviously delicious!”. I’m especially jazzed about the sound of the “Oden Daikon Radish, Onion, Miso, Parmesan, Winter greens” dish. And, on Friday 14 June (Seite’s second and final week) the winemakers behind Matter of Time will be pouring their new bottles at the restaurant. 

Bar Magda is collaborating with guest chef Floyd Lyttle to celebrate their third birthday. On June 21, Floyd, who is the head chef at Christchurch restaurant Miro, will be cooking a four-course sharing style feast with a bunch of South Island wines to match. And, in true birthday celebration-style – there will be a DJ kicking off from 10pm. Buy tickets here.

Pop up dining project Someplace Somewhere which is headed by Ragtag sous chef Kane Wilson has made regular appearances around the city over the last few years (e.g. Roses, Bare Wine, Tappo, Garage Project, Bar Marin, and Norma Taps). They’ve now been given the keys to a (secret!) city fringe restaurant for four nights from 13-16 June – marking their first full restaurant takeover. They’ll be serving à la carte dishes which lean into Kane’s modern Japanese style of cooking that’s heavy on ferments, alongside a selection of local and international wines curated by Bare Wines. Book here (the pop-up location will be revealed on 10 June).

Tōtara Hospice is hosting their ninth annual Long Lunch Charity Gala on Sunday 23 June at The Warbirds Hangar at Ardmore Airport. Guests will enjoy a degustation menu designed by a host of local chefs and restaurants including Chef Nancye from Te Kaahu, Taco Teca and Michael Dearth alongside wine matches. The event runs from 11.30am-5pm and tickets include coach transfers to and from the location, with five collection points around Auckland in the central city, Greenlane, Whitford, Clevedon and Manukau. 

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