Auckland Restaurant Review: Gareth Stewart’s Advieh, Inside The InterContinental Hotel, Is Insanely Good

By Jesse Mulligan
The fish of the day at Advieh restaurant, in the InterContinental Hotel in Commercial Bay. Photo / Babiche Martens


Cuisine: Middle Eastern/Greek

Address: 1 Queen St, central city

Phone: (09) 304 0040

Drinks: Fully licensed

Reservations: Accepted

From the menu: beef tartare $14; fresh cheese salad $28; chicken liver “baklava” $11; whipped carrot hummus $25; flatbread $14; market fish $48; pistachio cake $21

Rating: 19/20

Score: 0-7 Steer

It’s taken me a few weeks to learn the name Advieh — at least with little girls named Nevaeh you can remind yourself that it’s the word “heaven” spelt backwards — so in emails to my editor about this meal I’ve been referring to it as “the new Gareth Stewart one”. Perhaps they should have called it that instead.

The name comes from a Persian spice blend according to Advieh’s website, which reads suspiciously like it’s been created using Chat GPT. It promises a restaurant “where a tapestry of Middle Eastern flavours seamlessly weaves into New Zealand’s rich landscapes, inviting you into a world of vibrant tastes and captivating aromas”. If this has been written by a human, the AI robots should be worried about their own jobs.

Advieh as a “big, beautiful room” with views of the Waitematā Harbour. Photo / Babiche Martens
Advieh as a “big, beautiful room” with views of the Waitematā Harbour. Photo / Babiche Martens

Advieh is the house restaurant of the new InterContinental Hotel and is an early candidate for opening of the year. An exceptional menu, fantastic staff, a big, beautiful room and an exciting drinks list — this is the sort of place that reminds you how good restaurants can get.

It also reminds you how good Gareth Stewart is — after a few years floating around at executive and group chef level (he ultimately oversaw the menu at Jervois Steak House, for example, but there was nothing about the place that made you think of him) — he is very much on the tools here, working a Monday night when I visited and creating the sort of food that couldn’t be anybody else’s.

When the first dishes arrived I immediately thought of eating at Euro in 2015, shortly after Simon Gault had shipped out and Gareth had taken over the kitchen. After years of serving a menu so classic it was laser printed on to textured plastic, suddenly that restaurant was renovating its offering almost daily, led by what was new at the market, never missing an opportunity to add one more sprig of microbasil or a twirled sliver of asparagus.

“The inspiration is Middle Eastern but the ingredients feature the best of the New Zealand food bowl,” says Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens
“The inspiration is Middle Eastern but the ingredients feature the best of the New Zealand food bowl,” says Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens

“I stand for fresh” seemed to be Gareth’s mantra and that philosophy is on display again at Advieh, where the inspiration is Middle Eastern but the ingredients feature the best of the New Zealand food bowl.

Start with some snacks — the chicken liver parfait is obviously a European classic, but it’s called “baklava” here and served inside a baked filo pastry cup that stands in for the toasted brioche, with a little cherry reduction and pistachio “crumble” on top. This is over in a couple of mouthfuls as is the pāua dolma, his take on the Greek classic where small flavourful pieces of the abalone are mixed with dark rice and wrapped inside a vine leaf that chef apparently collects from the same winery each day on the way to work. It’s served with tzatziki freshened up with raw zucchini.

The chicken liver and the beef tartare. Photo / Babiche Martens
The chicken liver and the beef tartare. Photo / Babiche Martens

Beef tartare has become an almost compulsory menu item for city restaurants but this version is particularly stunning.

“WTF is that?” I said to Victoria, tasting something familiar but unexpected with the raw beef. It was a goddamn hashbrown — possibly the greatest comfort food in the Western food palate and, with its signature toasty, carby crunch, the perfect foil for the cold crimson meat. The bite-sized snack was finished with a little richness from smoked egg yolk.

Whatever you order from the mains list, the side salad is unmissable: green tomatoes, green olives and green cucumbers chopped and served with cheese — a fresh white curd that was called, simply, “Annabelle’s” — and basil oil. It’s a stunningly beautiful side — to look at and to eat, and is the sort of thing you remember even more than the feature dishes.

With all these tempting snacks and sides (the carrot hummus with mussels and caramelised onion is beautiful, don’t miss it — and order some puffed-up flatbread to scoop it up) you may, as we did, opt for a single main between you. The fish of the day wasn’t on our radar until we found out it was swordfish, a rare and lovely species to find in a restaurant. It is seared and served rare here, with fresh but not overpowering adornments — a parsley tahini, then courgette strips and flowers and very little else, but what a great way to hero the swordfish.

I just love the innovation on the drinks list: we started with minute (tiny) cocktails, because sometimes a few gulps of martini are all you need. They also do half pours of the Dog Point Section 94, presumably to tempt New Zealanders not used to paying $22 for a glass of sauvignon blanc (this one is truly worth it). And there are plenty of other brilliant wine options, including a chilled red just to let you know the person writing the list hasn’t been living in a cave. Speaking of which, what a shame there was no sommelier on the floor to help talk us through the list — this and the martini not being cold enough were the only flaws on an otherwise perfect night.

The pistachio cake. Photo / Babiche Martens
The pistachio cake. Photo / Babiche Martens

I’ve barely left room to tell you about the best dessert in the city: a light, spongey cake with an intense inky butter-paste, both made from pistachio. It’s topped with a plum two ways: a drizzle of concentrate then segments of the fresh fruit with a quenelle of yoghurt ice cream, extra shattered pistachio and edible flower petals scattered over the top.

This is insanely good food, served with warmth and energy by a charismatic team of waiters. Even at the best places, most weeks I finish a meal and am finished with the restaurant. Walking out of Advieh, I couldn’t wait to go back.

From dining out editor Jesse Mulligan.

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Remuera’s top Japanese spot is bigger, sharper and an absolute must-book. In Village Green, this restaurant cuts a neat figure with its sashimi counter.

Grey Lynn’s new champion of hāngī pork belly and rēwena bread. The bistro’s menu moved from Italian fare to kai Māori, or a happy mix of both.

Another beautiful restaurant from legacy-building Michael Meredith. It mixes traditional with modern, flash with rustic, Pacific cuisine with detours to Asia.

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