Dining out, Events
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Where I really want to go for American Express Restaurant Month

Restaurant Month is just around the corner. August is going to be an eating extravaganza.

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There are over 150 participating restaurants are offering special menus.  There are three price brackets and you can browse by budget: $25, $40 and $55+. There have been a bunch of new openings since last year so it’s a great time to head to the central city restaurants you have been meaning to visit.

Last August I enjoyed 9 menus. Cassia, Clooney, Culprit, Soul, O’Connell Street Bistro, Gusto, Odettes, Giraffe, and Le Chef which set me back just over $400. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if dining out 9 times in a month for $400 is a good deal or not. I know I have no regrets.

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A few of the dishes I ate last August

We’re celebrating Matariki right now (Māori New Year) and I enjoyed two Matariki events last week. With that in mind, the menu I am most excited about for next month is the “Taste of New Zealand” menu at The Cut on Federal. It’s a hotel restaurant offering Māori potato gnocchi, hangi broth, seafood chowder with smoked hapuka. Ingredients like horopito, karengo, puha also make an appearance.Yes! Yes! YES!

I grew up in Rotorua – a Māori food and culture wonderland in the ’80s – where hangi and Māori ingredients were commonplace but uncommon in Auckland today. Maybe that is why I’m super excited about this menu. Check out their full menu here.


Below are my 10 picks for the month – full disclaimer – this list is PURELY SELF INDULGENT. This list is by no means the “best of” Restaurant Month. I’ve skipped places that I’ve been to plenty of times in favour of others I’ve heard good things about. I’m a bit more budget conscious this year.

I have marked all the restaurants that are new since last August with  new-opening

Some are set menus but there are plenty with options if you prefer to choose. More details here.


Top 10 picks for American Express Restaurant Month

(in $ order)

1. Lowbrow, Queen’s Rise new-opening

$25 FOR A 2 COURSE DINNER OR LUNCH
Set menu:
Lowbrow fried chicken wings with 2 side dishes
Signature soft serve sundae

2. Bao Baby Bao, Elliot Stables new-opening

$25 FOR A 2 COURSE DINNER
Your choice of an entree and a main.
Entree options:
Korean fried chicken wings, Shanghai calamari
Main options: Bang Bang chicken salad, Kung Pow chicken

3. Beast & Butterflies, M Social, Quay Street new-opening

$25 FOR A 2 COURSE LUNCH
Your choice of 2 courses.
Entree options:
Pork bun, Tofu cashew salad, Market fish ceviche
Main options: Prawn and chicken laksa, Beef rending, Vegetarian fried rice
Dessert options: Rosemary creme brûlée, Royal rubies

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Photo by Beasts & Butterflies

4. Gusto at the Grand, SKYCITY

$25 FOR A 2 COURSE DINNER OR LUNCH INCLUDING A GLASS WINE
Set menu:
Garlic and rosemary pizzetta with housemade ricotta, honey, pine nuts
Pappardelle al ragu alla bolognese matched with a glass of grenache
Vegetarian option available: Rag pasta with pumpkin, pistachio and pecorino HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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5. Euro, Princess Wharf

$40 FOR A 3 COURSE DINNER OR LUNCH
Your choice of an entree, main and dessert.
Entree options:
Smoked pig’s cheek, Salt and chilli squid, Jerusalem artichoke, Curry baby goat “jaffle”
Main options: Free-range chicken with forest mushroom and marsala, Snapper with celeriac puree fennel and shrimp, Roasted butternut squash risotto
Dessert options: Valrhona chocolate tart or Carrot Cake
Plus drink match +$30

6. Kura, Queen Street

$40 FOR A 3 COURSE DINNER
Set menu:
Salmon, tuna, snapper, scallop and eel sushi. Assorted seafood and vegetable tempura
Scallop and Salmon sizzling steak with broccoli, steamed rice and miso.
Real vanilla ice cream with Japanese Plum liquer and kinako roasted soybean powder

7. Masu, SKYCITY

$55 FOR A 3 COURSE DINNER OR LUNCH
Your choice of an entree and main.
Entree options:
Red miso bisque, Kingfish sashimi, Chef’s 2 nigiri selection
Main options: Robato grilled king salmon, Cedar roast baby chicken, Green beans salad with black garlic goma
Dessert: Shiro miso pavlova with roasted tomatillo and guava chilli sorbet

8. The Cut, Rydges Hotel, Federal Street

$55 FOR A 3 COURSE DINNER
Your choice of an entree, main and dessert
Entree options:
Seafood chowder, hangi broth
Main options: Urenika malfatti (Maori potato gnocchi), Akaroa Salmon, Pork belly
Dessert options: Rata honey flan, Figs and hibiscus

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Photo by The Cut

9. Cafe Hanoi, Britomart

$60 FOR A 4 COURSE DINNER OR LUNCH INCLUDING A GLASS OF WINE
Set menu:
Raw kingfish with lemongrass, palm sugar & Thai basil oil
Grilled shrimp on sugarcane skewers w lettuce, rice noodles, fresh herbs & nuoc cham
Roasted duck stir fry w broccoli, crispy rice cake, carrots, soy & honey
Twice cooked eggplant w sesame & green chilli (V)
Pickled carrot & daikon w kaffir lime & sesame
Steamed jasmine rice
Dessert options: Mango parfait or Marou chocolate (74%) cremeux
Wine options: Greywacke Riesling 2015, Prunotto Barbera de’Alba 2012

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10. Baduzzi, Wynyard Quarter

$69 FOR 4 COURSE DINNER OR LUNCH
Set menu:
Wood fired wild caught prawns pancetta and gremolata picante
Tortellini of snapper, scampi with fennel jam
Line-caught fish with prawn butter and eighty4 heirloom tomatoes
Ricotta cannoli citrus confit and bitter chocolate


That’s it!

Have a nosey and if you are hungry for more, check out the rest of the offerings here. Seriously. There’s 140+ more options than what I’ve listed. You should check it out.

IMPORTANT! Make sure you read the terms and conditions BEFORE heading to the restaurants. Some deals are only available with a booking and others some are for set times only. Many do have unlisted vegetarian options so if you need a vege option, it pays to check first.


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The Curious Food Festival

This year Street Eats has been replaced with The Curious Food Festival 12pm to 8pm on Saturday 18 August at Shed 10 on Queens Wharf. The first 2000 people through the gates are free and after that it’s just $5 per person.

Each year I view this event as a walking, self-curated degustation. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be the same again this year. PROTIP: Take a friend or two with similar tastes so you can get around to tasting double or triple the number of dishes.

Participating Eateries

  • Scratch Bakers
  • The Seafood Kitchen
  • Daikoku
  • Greentime
  • Le Chef
  • Ynot
  • Hansik
  • Totos
  • & Sushi
  • 1947 Eatery
  • Oh My Cheese
  • Lalele

Keep up to date with The Curious Food Festival over on their Facebook page here.

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