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The Roving Gourmets - Distinct Dining

With Auckland city littered with so many restaurants it’s always going to be an ambitious project starting a new one, particularly during these difficult times.

But at District Dining there’s plenty of action on a menu studded with excitement and curiosities with dishes that cannot be slotted into a single category. Technical precision, attention to detail using the best produce make this establishment shine.
The restaurant is divided into a full length bar and a dining area complete with a semi-open kitchen. No one need be ashamed of the owners collection of artwork within surroundings that are unapologetically stunning, although the lighting is poor making it difficult to read the menu. And while the white marble table-tops add a finishing touch to the décor, missing is comfortable seating.

Like the décor the menu is completely up to date. Here the food is designed to share with friends and carries an imprint of the energy from the kitchen. Entrée stand-outs as crispy pigs ears and szechuan salt ($10), mussel fritters and lemon mayonnaise ($12), spiced lamb brik roll ($10), crispy chicken wings with a chilli caramel ($16). All very interesting.

Mains are equally mind-spinning with appealing offerings of kingfish, wasabi pannacotta, quinoa and ponzu ($20), lamb shoulder, eggplant, olives and tomato ($30), veal tongue, pickled turnips and salsa verde ($20), steak tartare, aioli, french fries and toast ($22), baby carrot salad, salted yoghurt, dukkah and almonds ($18).   

But best of all is the crispy squid tubes, cauliflower puree, chorizo ($20), duck confit, sweet potatoes pomegranate ras el hanout ($28), scotch fillet with an asparagus salsa. And for something on the side you can choose a mixed leaf, asian cucumber or a warm potato salad or french fries ($8).

At the end of your meal if your taste buds run to desserts these all come at one price ($15). On offer is an ice cream sandwich with banana and chocolate, passion fruit brulee, honey madeleines, a chocolate brownie, with pineapple and mango and eton mess, strawberries and raspberry sorbet.

The wine list is a compact personal affair combining an excellent selection of local and international varieties many of which by the glass or carafe. We immediately put to work a ’08 Pegasus Bay sauvignon blanc semillon ($57), tangy and with lots of fruity and intense flavours that complimented our meals with purpose.           

And the verdict? District Dining draws its attitude to food from a world of culinary influences taking fresh local produce and actually improving on it. Unlike many of the new kids on the block where failure can be inevitable this establishment should go the full distance. Try it you won’t be disappointed.   

District Dining: 50 Customs Street. East, Telephone: 368 5315, Lunch and Dinner: Monday to Saturday, Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Diners, Web-site: Menu: 8.5, Cuisine: 9, Wine List: 8, Service: 8, Décor: 8.5, Value for Money: 8.5.