Here's a rundown of what's to come during Auckland Restaurant Month which runs August 1-31.
Launch into Auckland Restaurant Month in style by getting along to the Official Launch Party on August 1. New Zealand wines will be matched with dishes from Simon Gault (Euro), Al Brown (Depot), Sean Marshall (Roxy), Warren Turnbull (District Dining) and Ben Bayly (The Grove) from 6.30-10pm. The breathtaking venue, incorporating Everybody's and Imperial Lane, will be turned into the Garden of Eve for the night. Enjoy this sumptuous party in Eve's garden, where no apple is forbidden and expect the unexpected! Live music and DJs until late.
1. This August the BIG little City serves up the best of the central city for Auckland Restaurant Month. You can expect special menus and some great offers that run across three price points - from under $20; $21-$30; and $31 plus.
2. With over 100 central city restaurants participating, it's a great excuse to get your tastebuds out and about for some delicious new experiences.
3. American Express is on board this year and celebrating with a fantastic dining offer: a $40 statement credit when you dine twice and spend more than $100. All you have to do is register and pay with your American Express Card. Find out how to register your card at biglittlecity.co.nz/arm
4. BIG little City is giving a $10,000 dining package away, so one lucky winner will be able to enjoy a year's worth of dining in the central city (valued at $9000) and Auckland Co-Op Taxi fares to get to and from the chosen dining venues (valued at $1000). Remember to ask for an entry form at any of the participating restaurants when you dine.
WHAT TO WINE ABOUT
The winemaker support for Auckland Restaurant Month comes from some of the most established and celebrated names on the New Zealand wine map. Central Otago will be represented with Roaring Meg and Mt Difficulty, Marlborough has a strong presence, with The Ned, Te Whare Ra, Marisco's The King Series and Wither Hills. Martinborough Vineyard will be present with the Burnt Spur and Te Tera labels and Trinity Hills Gimblet Gravels holds the fort for Hawkes Bay. Also look out for that premium method traditionelle on your menu - it's most likely a Daniel Le Brun, celebrating more than 25 years of great winemaking. Expect some great wine matches with your cuisine.
Here are our top picks from the calendar of "Celebrity Chef and Special Events" taking place each week during August. You'll want to get organised and book tickets as these are seriously limited and selling out fast:
* A taste of Aria at Euro, with Matt Moran & Simon Gault [August 8, 6.30-10pm]
* A taste of Rata at District Dining, with Josh Emett & Warren Turnbull [August 15, 6.30-10pm]
* A taste of Le Gavroche at The Grove, with Monica Galetti & Ben Bayly [August 22, 6.30-10pm]
* A taste of Federal St, at dine by Peter Gordon with Peter Gordon, Al Brown and Sean Connolly [August 29, 6.30-10pm]
* A World of Flavour at Britomart - with Tyler St Garage, Cafe Hanoi, District Dining, Ebisu, & 1885 Basement Bar [August 2]
* Patio, Pig & Pinot - Soul [August 18, 3pm]
* North Wharf Passport - with 10 restaurants and bars [August 24-26, all day]
THE NEW VICTORIA PARK MARKET: Q&A WITH SHELLEY MITCHELL
What can we expect from the new Victoria Park Market?
Expect a blend of the old heritage with new contemporary buildings. Developers have striven to retain the original features of the park with sympathetic restoration and design.
Will there be an official opening once Victoria Park Market is completed?
Yes, we are looking forward to showcasing the revamped Victoria Park Market and handing her back to the city.
What new bars, restaurants and shops are there?
Open now: The Oak Room, Atico Cocina, Libertine, Matsu Sushi, Casa Gelato and, of course, La Zeppa (existing).
In the pipeline: Warwick Brown Chef will open on the corner of Union St and Victoria St, Mozaik Cafe, Olde English Sweet Shop, Mix Make-up, Natural Skincare Shop, a seafood restaurant and a variety of other stores.
What is open now?
Matsu Sushi, Gift Shop, Pipe Dreams (existing) an antique & collectables shop, Rastafarian shop, sunglass shop, perfume & sunglass shop, gelato/coffee shop, barber shop, Nike Platinum - they have just won retail fit-out of the year.
Where is the best place to park?
Parking will always be available in the Wilson carpark. Over the weekend there is good parking around the park.
TOP OFFERS FOR AUCKLAND RESTAURANT MONTH
Our favourite offers to check out during Auckland Restaurant Month:
1. The Grill, by Sean Connolly at the Grand Hotel in Federal St is offering three courses for $45 per person including a glass of wine. If you've been wanting to try it, now's your chance.
2. Wine Chambers on the corner of O'Connell & Shortland Sts, are offering three courses for $35; the dessert of cardamom cake with lavender panna cotta and blood orange sounds to die for.
3. Mezze Bar in Durham St East is offering three set tapas plates for $30 with complimentary baklava for a sweet treat to finish.
4. Dida's in Victoria St is offering amazing value with two glasses of wine and any three tapas for just $25.
Libertine - a free-thinking new bar and eatery.
Auckland's newest establishment, Libertine in Drake St, is referring to itself as anything but conformist. We like it. It's well positioned above Victoria Park Market, with great views out over Victoria Park. This new bar and eatery takes its cue from the Americas but with an Antipodean twist. It's got a great vibe and certainly worth a look. Don't miss the suspended floor which takes advantage of the large, west-facing windows. Sunset with your beverage?
* Libertine. Open seven days, Monday to Thursday, 4pm until late, and Friday to Sunday, midday until late. 37 Drake St, behind Victoria Park Market. Ph (09) 929 2790.
Our top 10 favourite recent foodie additions to the city:
1. Toro Churros & Salad Works (Cnr Queen & Wakefield Sts)
2. Mexi-Kai Truck (Elliott St carpark)
3. The Grassy Knoll (next to Kapiti Cheese Shop, Shortland St)
4. La Boulange (hole in the wall, for takeaway coffee and pastries in Lorne St)
5. Mexico (in Britomart)
6. Everybody's & Roxy, Imperial Lane (Fort Lane)
7. Smith & Caughey's for speciality foods & Bennetts Chocolate Shop (Queen St, top floor)
8. Botswana Butchery (Ferry Building)
9. Libertine Drake St (part of the Victoria Park Market development)
10. Atico Cocina (Drake St)
Check out the complete event lineup for Auckland Restaurant Month by visiting biglittlecity.co.nz/arm