Jesse Mulligan Auckland Restaurant Recommendations: Where To Go For A Good Steak & A Big Work Dinner

By Jesse Mulligan
The raw kingfish at St Kevin’s Arcade’s Lebanese restaurant Gemmayze Street. 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.

Email Jesse at and tell

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

The shared steak at Baduzzi. Photo / Babiche Martens
The shared steak at Baduzzi. Photo / Babiche Martens

Hey Jesse,

I am going out for dinner for my 40th with the parents and in-laws and I was wondering where I should consider for a good steak? I have been to Oyster and Chop before, which is very impressive, and I thought of Jervois Steakhouse, but the price is a bit up there for that one.

Thanks for your help, James

Hi James,

If price is a factor then I can confirm Jervois will be too expensive.

My favourite is the steak at Ponsonby Road Bistro and it’s a great vibe for a 40th nice and comfy and a great atmosphere for drinking wine and eating meat.

For something unusual, check out the dairy cow steak at Esther! And there are lots of other beef options here too. The price of the dairy is up there but you can share between a couple of you and it really is a unique experience they serve it Spanish-style alongside a simple tomato salad. Exec chef Sean Connolly tells me the dairy cow has been selling out lately they’ve increased their supply but also their aging, going from two cows a month to one a week. Order in advance if they’ll let you.

Where else? A couple of years ago at Onslow I reported that their scotch was “the tastiest piece of meat I can remember eating” but I see it’s no longer on the menu. What’s the story, Josh? And I used to love Coco’s Cantina steak frites but from the looks of things that has disappeared too.

Is steak an endangered species on Auckland menus? At least we can rely on Baduzzi, where their beautiful selection of beef cuts are scorched in a woodfired oven and arrive at your table with a crunchy, delicious crust. The scotch still sneaks in under $50.

Lebanese restaurant Gemmayze Street, nestled in St Kevin’s Arcade. Photo / Babiche Martens
Lebanese restaurant Gemmayze Street, nestled in St Kevin’s Arcade. Photo / Babiche Martens

Dear Jesse,

We have a work dinner coming up and I wonder if you could recommend somewhere for (don’t hate me) around 25 people? Would we have to book out a whole restaurant?


Hi Karina

No, I don’t hate you! In fact, I was recently part of a group dinner at Gemmayze Street of around the same size and even I managed to enjoy myself (“Now, you’re going to relax and not worry about things tonight,” my wife told me firmly on the way there. “People are allowed to order whatever they like. And if somebody arrives 10 minutes late, everything will be okay.”)

The good news is our dinner went spectacularly well and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the way the restaurant dealt with such a huge group building a massive L-shape banquet table around one corner of their dining space. We did a set menu and the quality of the food was incredible bread and dips, raw fish and oregano, falafel, then 24-hour lamb shoulder, grilled carrots, roasted cauliflower and labneh cucumber. A feast! Including two great desserts. Honestly, we ate so well for $70 a head.

At the end, we paid individually the set menu price plus any alcohol we’d ordered. Victoria reckons whoever pays last does best in that situation which definitely wasn’t true when I was a student but may well have changed by this age and stage. You’ll have to look around your group and decide if they’re the “I drank barely any of that bottle” types or the “Ahh just put all the pinot on my bill” types. Book early and enjoy!

Viva dining-out editor Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens
Viva dining-out editor Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens

What you’ve asked, what he’s shared.

Where To Dine For Fussy Eaters & Septuagenarians. One reader would like suggestions for a family-with-partners birthday dinner.

Where To Go For Great Japanese; Eateries Worth Visiting Out West. One reader asks, “Do you pay for the meals you review?”

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.”

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