Phone: (09) 376 2049
Cost: $305.50 for four
Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org Rating out of 10: Food: 6.5 Service: 8 Value: 7 Ambience: 7.5
What would you eat if you could only eat 10 things for the rest of your life?
Across the table, my boss is thinking hard: "Parmesan," she says. "Anchovies. And Vita-weats." This long oyster lunch might be wasted on her.
Shucker Brothers is an all-day, fresh seafood affair with a connecting door that leads to a gelato parlour. These are definitely a few of my favourite edible things.
Our waitperson has a strong French accent. It's possible he thinks we are like ladies in France who (I've read) lunch like ladies. He thinks one large dish should be enough to share and, if not, he is mere seconds away. We are drinking like not-ladies. Crab doughnuts will be necessary.
Come here for the oysters because even if you can't see the sea behind the ferry terminal wharf wall, you can smell its sublimely briny presence. Summer tastes better by the ocean.
Shucker Brothers (surprise!) shucks oysters to order, according to availability. We choose Te Matuku from Waiheke. Served raw at $4 apiece with a zingy little side dish of grapefruit and prosecco granita, they are superb. In tempura they're somewhat of a disaster. There is an unpleasant mealiness under the crisp batter. They cost an extra $1 apiece and it is not money well-spent.
Octopus is everywhere now and Auckland menus are better for it. Shucker Brothers serves it ($18) with a sharp salsa verde and smoky "nduja", which is technically a spreadable Italian sausage, but deployed here as a sauce. It has heat, and the decision to add a small handful of kale to the dish is a good one. Robust, well-flavoured, eats well with wine.
Those doughnuts? Oh dear. Intriguing in the abstract, the $18 reality is three balls of dense deep-fried dough coated in a weirdly savoury shrimp salt. They could also use more filling — I can see crab, but mostly I can taste crunchy cubes of apple. Much later, we order shoestring fries with a salt and vinegar powder ($8.50). If you're looking for a carb fix, these are definitely the way to go.
Shucker Brothers is a small space. There are outside tables, but inside the only option is side-by-side stools. Grab some oysters and a drink before the ferry trip. Grab some oysters and a drink during the ferry trip you aren't taking because you saw the queue and alcohol seemed the only option.
The drinks? A $160 bottle of Napa Valley cab sav seems faintly ridiculous in this setting; we sip a bottle of Neudorf rosé ($60) and an Ata Rangi chardonnay ($70). There is no sauvignon blanc, because last night was busy.
So far, we had ordered from the raw bar and "tasty morsels" list. The outdoor tables are comfortable and convivial. It was time for something from the "skippers feast". Hint: do not expect a feast.
Roasted hapuku with butter bean puree and clams ($32) was tasty enough, but the serving was small. Divided by four it allowed approximately one-and-a-half forkfuls of fish per person (it proved impossible to divide three clams).
Asparagus ($14) with a little spoonful of cheesy sauce was good and everybody adored the orange and fennel salad ($12) with its sherry-plumped raisins, bitter citrus and heaps of olives. We thought we should get the chargrilled flatbread ($7) and were duly advised it would be chargrilled. I was puzzled. Some people, explained our waitperson, had complained about the grill marks.
Scorch lines are the least of this dish's worries. It was very flat, with an oily, slightly pastry-like profile. Paratha? We were still hungry. A three-cheese platter ($28) was missing the advertised honeycomb, but a little fresh pear and caramelly room-temperature manchego can go a long way to making a woman happy. Our waitperson correctly and thankfully anticipated our desire for extra wafers. Sadly they were not Vita-weats.