Friday, July 25, 2008

Auckland Day 3: Fine dining found, finally

On Wednesday night, we decided to try our luck once again with a “highly recommended" restaurant, so we headed down to the O’Connell Street Bistro. We had a bit of difficulty finding the place—misleading directions online and all—but once we did, we stepped out of the rain into a small, cozy, lovely little restaurant.

We didn’t have reservations and their tiny, twelve-table dining room was all booked, so the jovial host offered to seat us in the bar. We accepted and were led to a tall bar table that was hastily made up for us. A waiter brought over menus and recited some specials. We made our decisions and placed orders.

We had noted there was no bread option on the menu, so we were hoping there might be some sort of free bread. Sure enough, shortly after we placed our orders, a waitress came over with two “complimentary” rolls and some olive oil. My mom requested butter as well, which was brought quickly. The rolls were yummy—warm and crusty and delicious with the butter and some pink sea salt sprinkled on top. The bread went particularly well with the two celebratory glasses of prosecco we had ordered.

Woohoo! Free bread!

Our dishes arrived fairly quickly. My mom had chosen the scallop special, which came with a globe artichoke and haloumi cheese salad on the side. The artichoke-cheese mixture was delicious, and I took care of the portion of pan-fried haloumi my mom didn’t want. She really enjoyed the scallops, which were the smallest scallops I’ve ever seen, noting that the sauce (a vanilla-champagne sauce, as confirmed by our waiter) made the dish.

Silly little scallops

I had ordered the rocket, pear, and parmesan salad, my second of the day. This was a fairly small but delicious portion of arugula with lots of fresh pear and a generous smattering of shavings of parmesan on top. It was fresh and yummy.

Nice big slivers of parm

We polished off our food; both had turned out to be appetizer portions, so we were still hungry. We looked at the dessert menu but decided that nothing in particular caught our fancy. So we left O’Connell Street Bistro, happy and satisfied. I’d highly recommend O’CSB—especially for a nice occasion, it’s quite lovely.

On our way back to the hotel, we hit up Valentino’s Gelato, a small shop in the Ferry Building that we had noticed earlier. I got a cup with Ferrerro Rocher (kind of like nutella) and Hokey Pokey (vanilla with honey bits); my mom got the Ferrerro Rocher with what I think was called Australian Hokey Pokey (caramel and honey). It was yummy gelato but definitely not the best I’ve ever had.

Hokey pokey on top; ferrero rocher on bottom

And then—back to the hotel to get some sleep before our overnight away from Auckland the next day…

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