Jesse Mulligan Auckland Restaurant Recommendations: Where To Find Welsh Rarebit; A Degustation You Can Take Your Teen To

By Jesse Mulligan
Sashimi and cerviche from the tasting menu at Inca restaurant by Nic Watt. Photo / Babiche Martens

In this fortnightly series, Viva’s resident dining-out editor shares his sage advice on exactly where to eat. He’s eaten a lot of bad meals so you don’t have to.

Do you have any restaurant-related questions or dining-out conundrums? Jesse is here to help.

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Here are some questions he’s been asked lately and what he told them.

Daily Bread’s Britomart flagship.
Daily Bread’s Britomart flagship.

SOS: Where can I get a Welsh rarebit in Auckland? (Golden Dawn RIP)


Champing at the bit

Thank you for this excellently specific question, to which I enjoyed tracking down an answer. For the uninitiated, Welsh rarebit is a sort of localised cheese on toast, with the addition of some key ingredients including mustard, Worcestershire sauce and most notably, dark beer. I’d rather hoped I might convince a local cafe to offer it as an off-menu dish for those in the know (i.e. readers of this column) but after asking a few of my favourites I got no takers.

Luckily I struck gold when I took my problem to Tom Hishon, whose Southland cheese roll at Orphan’s Kitchen was as close as I could think of to a Kiwi version of this dish. Good news! Tom reports: “We’re actually doing a Welsh rarebit off the a la carte menu at the Britomart Daily Bread. It’s served with avocado and is tasty as”.


A selection of tacos and the chilaquiles at Tacoteca. Photo / Babiche Martens
A selection of tacos and the chilaquiles at Tacoteca. Photo / Babiche Martens

Hi Jesse,

We are coming to Auckland in a couple of weeks. We enjoy eating out and would like to know your best Mexican restaurant in Auckland and two other must-do restaurants.

Andrew and Mel

Hi guys and welcome!

I think you had better go to Tacoteca which is great fun, in an interesting part of town and with very authentic, delicious Mexican food. Ask about Lola, their tortilla machine and leave room in your bloodstream for their margaritas — as good and authentic as you will ever taste in this country.

If you like this style of food consider branching out a little and trying one of our central or South American restaurants while you’re here. For example, Inca in Ponsonby is getting better and better and is right in the heart of the action — there are margaritas there too (less artisan probably but half the price) and they make guacamole tableside, which is a great piece of theatre.

Must-do? Our supreme restaurant of the year Ahi and the runner-up Culprit.

"MoVida is warm and comfortable — with red leather everywhere and a big wooden bar built into the middle of the room," says Jesse Muligan. Photo / Babiche Martens
"MoVida is warm and comfortable — with red leather everywhere and a big wooden bar built into the middle of the room," says Jesse Muligan. Photo / Babiche Martens

Hi Jesse,

I’d like to take my 12-year-old son for a degustation or prix fixe lunch in Auckland that won’t break the bank!

Ideally bistro-type food — nothing too spicy. He loved the Origine degustation but I’m looking for a lunchtime version, so maybe just three or four tasting plates, but still gives a similar experience of trying new and different dishes.



Melanie, your son is lucky to have you as a mum, and I’m sure if he’s a typical 12-year-old boy he tells you this all the time.

You don’t come across the fixed price, multi-course lunch as often in New Zealand as you do in Europe but remember that a lot of restaurants focus on smaller sharing plates anyway, so it wouldn’t be at all hard for you to go to, say, Depot and build your own prix fixe.

If you’d like more of a formal experience, I suggest you reach out to a couple of affable chefs and ask if they’d be up for it. One of my first special meals in Auckland was at Rocco (later Moochowchow, now Kol), when my date (later my girlfriend, now wife) called the excellent proprietor Mark Wallbank and asked if he would create a degustation for my birthday. This was before I was reviewing or appearing in any sort of media but he was apparently happy to do it — it made me feel like a rock star and I presume was a welcome chance for the chef to do something a bit different.

It wouldn’t appeal to every restaurateur and perhaps you’d feel shy about asking. Just in case, I’ve sent a message to Lucien Law who runs the Savor Group restaurants. He says: “MoVida or Amano could work, or even Ebisu or Azabu. We’d be happy to look after them — feel free to send her my number and I can do something fun for them and make it cost-effective.”

Melanie, I’ve sent you his number via email. Good luck and enjoy these amazing experiences with your son!

Dining out editor Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens
Dining out editor Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens

What you’ve asked, what he’s shared.

Where to go for faithful French food; a meal with a fantastic view. Visit a place deeply committed to French cuisine, while taking the odd Aotearoa detour.

Where to dine for great people-watching; places that go the extra mile. One reader says, “I want flavour, I want tastes of abroad. I don’t want fussy fare.”

Where to eat that’s actually fun; dinner that isn’t crowded. One reader is looking for a spot “that shows how good Auckland restaurants can be”.

Where to go for great Japanese; eateries worth visiting out west. One reader asks, “Do you pay for the meals you review?”

Where to go for a good steak and a big work dinner. The answer for a 20-strong group: A veritable feast for $70 a head.

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