Iguacu, Parnell

By Peter Calder


Find more restaurant reviews with our Google map

Herald on Sunday rating: 2/5
Address: 269 Parnell Road
Phone: (09) 358 4804
Website: iguacu.co.nz

The decorative efforts at Iguacu stretch only as far as white paint and assorted flags. Photo / Janna Dixon
The decorative efforts at Iguacu stretch only as far as white paint and assorted flags. Photo / Janna Dixon

I have three words to say to you," said the Professor as she finished the last of her broccoli. "Cobb. And. Co."

I couldn't help mentioning that the second word was meant to be "&", not "and".

"That's not the point," she said, "and you know it."

She was cross because I'd told her that next week I am taking two very attractive Spanish women to TriBeCa because I want to impress them. I don't have to impress the Professor any more because she's stuck with me, but I do feel a bit sorry for the poor woman. She has to endure a lot of bloody awful meals in the cause of being my companion. This, I am sorry to say, was another one.

I went to Iguacu more than six years ago and was unimpressed: by the huge menu (it's a pretty reliable rule of thumb that the more a chef offers to do the worse it will be done); by the overwrought ideas (scallops with brandy mustard sauce? crab with blue cheese?); and by the Caesar salad (although that's nothing new - I've only had one worth the name, at Euro, since I started this gig).

But places change and Iguacu seems to endure. When, momentarily disoriented, I asked a local lurching down the street where the place was, his eyes lit up as though I had just cooed the name of his first love. Who knows, I told the Professor, it might be better than TriBeCa.

Iguacu occupies a space that looks like a cross between a fire station and a provincial RSA. Beneath a glass ceiling, exposed ducting is inadequately camouflaged by the application of gallons of white paint.

A dying yucca adorns a stairway which, the green-fingered Professor tells me, is an achievement since yuccas are harder to kill than cockroaches.

Flags of various nations hang from the rafters, lending the impression that any moment a Barmy Army might burst in bellowing "Enga-land, Enga-land, Enga-land".

I think it's a safe bet that this will occur regularly in September and October. If it does, however, the Poms will get a bad impression of Kiwi cuisine, because the food at Iguacu is awful.

The Professor expressed interest in a salmon soup, which came in a "bread bowl". This is what it sounds like: a cobb loaf, beheaded like a boiled egg and dug out so as to accommodate the liquid. The technique was irresistibly reminiscent of a "cordon blue cooking" night-school class of the 1970s and the taste of salmon was a subtle allusion, easy to miss among the pureed kumara base. I chose the kokoda - the raw fish salad that the Samoans call oka and the Cook Islanders call ika mata: it was tired and tasteless, devoid of spice and imagination.

The Professor's second dish, an entrée-size sashimi, proved my theory that you should leave such dishes to the Japanese experts. The fish was fresh enough but the presentation, including huge slices of ginger, was crass. I played it safe with a char-grilled rib-eye, which was not inexpertly cooked and so big I left half and asked for it to be bagged up. I asked after it as we paid the bill and after much faffing around involving several staff members, it transpired they had binned it.

It seemed a fitting end to a meal that was barely average - I thought a side of tomatoes and crumbled feta was a practical joke, it was so plain and thoughtless - and, it should be said, pretty expensive.

A lot of the mains at Iguacu nudge or top $40; the desserts are $15.50. I don't think the Professor was exaggerating when she summed it up in two words: "A palling".

Need to know

Value: $$
Food: Bad
Ambience: Barn
Bottom line: Cobb & Co, but dearer.

$ = $20-$40; $$ = 40-60; $$$ = $60+.
(Price guide reflects three courses for one person without drinks.)

Also try

Auckland's most-expensive suburbs (Remuera, Newmarket, Parnell, Mission Bay) offer slim pickings for a decent dinner, with the exception of Antoines and TriBeCa.

In Parnell try: Gion, 197 Parnell Rd (09) 379 3344, for original and tasty Japanese and Red Brick Kitchen & Bar, 46 Parnell Rd (09) 377 2170.

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2015, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 09 Oct 2015 13:05:07 Processing Time: 364ms