This week we’re enjoying a cornucopia of new cocktails and Christmassy snacks.
New opening: Norma Taps in City Works Depot
On the site of the old Brothers Brewery in City Works Depot comes Norma Taps, a collaboration between the team from Honest and Passa Passa. Billed as a bar and refillery, Norma Taps specialises in drinks from the tap, from wine to beer to cocktails, eliminating the need for single-use bottles in what Honest’s Luke Jones calls “a first-of-its-kind experience”. The fit-out works beautifully with the industrial nature of City Works Depot, with mahogany surfaces, cream-painted steel and pops of soothing green. The menu by Passa Passa is rotating and seasonal but currently features small plates of burrata and roast cherry tomatoes, and pizzetta with toppings like nduja and taleggio, and a refreshing watermelon salad. On the taps you’ll find beers from Parrotdog, Sawmill and Heineken, wines from New Zealand and Australia, as well as negronis, mai tais and margaritas (yes, all on tap too). 90 Wellesley St, central city.
New opening: unique dining and drinking destination Ayrburn in Queenstown
Viva sent Wānaka-based food writer Jo Elwin to the launch of Ayrburn (opening December 9) to report back on its dining and drinking offering, and she says she was blown away by the scale and quality of this new development. In a sheltered valley next to Waterfall Park in Queenstown, an area familiar (and nostalgic) for locals, the Ayrburn team has meticulously deconstructed and reconstructed the historic buildings on site, including a wool shed and manure room into world-class restaurants, bars and cellar doors. Jo says “no expense has been spared to maintain heritage and create unique venues with their own captivating personalities”, including 240-seat breakfast-through-dinner restaurant, The Woolshed and The Manure Room bar, The Burr Bar, The Dairy and Bakehouse. Creating a hospitality offering of this scale would be impossible without an accomplished team, which includes wine and beverage manager Henry de Salengre and executive chef Richard Highnam. Read more about Ayrburn here.
Fort Green offers a delicious new festive pastry box
Karangahape Road bakery and cafe Fort Green is getting in the festive spirit with its selection of baked treats, with some Christmas-themed additions packaged into a Christmas Deluxe Box of four for $37, baked by owner Liam Fox. Inside you’ll find a pain au chocolate studded with dulce de leche, a pain au chocolat with almonds and a liberal dusting of powdered sugar, and two croisollis, which are a mash-up of cannolis and croissants, one with citrus ricotta and pistachio and the other with Christmas fruit mince. Viva’s resident mince pie lovers gave this Christmassy croissant the thumbs up. Order yours here.
New opening: Aryeh restaurant opens on the site of the former Piha Cafe
Aryeh, pronounced “Ari-aye”, and an Aramaic word for lion, in recognition of Piha’s Lion Rock, is a new seasonal restaurant from chef and hospitality consultant Lucas Parkinson, who has recently settled in Piha after closing his award-winning restaurant Ode in Wānaka in 2021. Like Ode, Aryeh will offer a sustainable, elevated menu using solely New Zealand produce, with Lucas describing the food as “simple, refined and filling”, as well as constantly evolving. The 89-seat restaurant has indoor and outdoor areas, with an impressive stone chef’s table and an Atlantic greenstone bar. The big drawcard in summer will undoubtedly be The Sun Deck, which is surrounded by trees, has views of the beach and offers a more casual menu of mussels, chicken wings and fish and chips. Lucas will operate Aryeh as a seasonal model, with the restaurant open until April 30, 2024, when the space will be used for events and collaborations including pop-ups by visiting chefs, before reopening in December. Read about Lucas’ journey to opening Aryeh here, and find Aryeh at 20 Seaview Rd, Piha.
Looking for a bottle to pop this Christmas? Look no further
Nothing says “festive season” like a great bottle of bubbly and Viva wine editor Jo Burzynska has done the groundwork for you, rounding up the best selection of local methodes, as well as Champagne and fun fizz. Jo says “in New Zealand, we’ve long had a well-priced supply of domestic fizz that’s allowed sparkling wine to be an everyday indulgence. However, recent years have seen us splash out on considerably more Champagne. And more sparkle has been added to our homegrown fizz through a proliferation of new players making examples from high-end methode traditionnelle styles, to the petillant naturels (aka pet-nats) that don’t require specialist equipment. There’s much to celebrate in sparkling wine and plenty of excellent examples to celebrate with over the festive season and beyond.” Shop the list here.
On the shelf: a new hazy pale ale from Canyon Brewing and Sherwood hotel
Queenstown-based craft brewery Canyon Brewing has teamed up with Sherwood hotel for a new beer that supports local carbon removal initiatives by channelling a portion of the profits to support local biodiversity initiatives, as well as tasting great. The hazy pale ale, called Be Here Now, inspired by the Ram Dass book of the same name, has been created to “inspire you to live in the moment and enjoy everything this beautiful town has to offer”, says its creators, but it’s also been made with emissions reduction top of mind. Two per cent from sales will go directly to LOVE Queenstown, which will distribute the donation. Be Here Now is now available on tap at Sherwood, with 440ml cans available from Sherwood, Canyon Brewing and selected supermarkets. It costs $9 per can and is available in 12-packs.
Salo Salo pairs up with Bar Magda for a one-off Christmas feast
Book in now for a unique Kamayan-style feast, inspired by the Filipino Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) tradition, at Bar Magda. Chef/owner Carlo Buenaventura has teamed up with the talents behind the Salo Salo series of pop-ups: Chino Salazar from Olongapo and Demi Magin-Salazar from Baguio, who create Filipino-inspired dining experiences. At this feast, Kamayan cuisine (communal dining) takes centre stage, says Carlo, with guests invited to eat with their hands the season’s harvest, served atop a bed of banana leaves. On the table will be relleno, which is whole chicken or fish stuffed with minced meat; lamb ribs; Demi’s grandmother’s recipe of pork binagoongan (pork cooked in coconut fermented shrimp, like xo) cooked over coals and green melon with longganiza crumb, papaya with whipped quesong puti (Filipino queso fresco).
Noche Buena, originally Spanish for “good night,” has become synonymous with the Christmas Eve celebration embraced by Filipino, Latin, and Spanish heritage. Tickets are $90 per person, with the table laden with a feast to share, as well as cocktails and bottles of wine available on the evening. Buy tickets by reserving a table on December 10 through Bar Magda’s website. “We’re excited for this inaugural event, and we hope it’s the first of many, as we celebrate the rich culture of the Philippines and share a taste of home with Aotearoa. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable culinary journey,” says Carlo. 25B Cross St, central city.
Bar Albert shakes up its cocktail menu
Rooftop venue Bar Albert, on the 38th floor of Voco hotel with stellar views of the Waitematā Harbour, the Waitakere Ranges and Auckland city, has a new cocktail menu. Mixologist and bar manager Johan Cabrera says the new menu is a fusion of local and global flavours, with a focus on independent small-batch producers and locally sourced, fresh ingredients. He’s designed new drinks such as Milford Road, with sparkling wine and lemon sorbet representing the snowy summits of Mitre Peak and a blue vodka sour representing the sparkling glacial waters of the fiord. The Thermal Road is a tropical and floral tequila cocktail, with notes of pineapple, lavender and pear. The Hua Hua (pictured) has Rogue Society Gin, pineapple and lemon juice, vanilla, blueberry and soda, topped with a dehydrated blueberry cracker. Level 38, Voco, Auckland city centre.
What The Viva Team Has Been Eating And Drinking This Week ...
Alba Sparkling Paloma Grapefruit 10-pack, $33
“I’ve landed on my canned cocktail of choice for the summer. Striking the right balance between sweet, sour and salty, Alba’s Sparkling Paloma sees Mexican tequila blended with agave syrup, grapefruit, lime juice, sparkling water and a hint of salt for a more grown-up RTD that’s perfect for sipping at sundown.” — Ashleigh Cometti, beauty editor
Caviar dauphine from Tobi
“My picks from new Ponsonby Rd restaurant Tobi are the caviar dauphine sour cream followed by ndjua, anchovies, lardo toast and three-cheese mac ’n’ cheese. A watermelon and tequila cocktail was a surprisingly refreshing drink. Will need to go back and try the desert of a curiously named 7 Eleven slurpee. All in good time.” — Dan Ahwa, creative and fashion director
‘A Taste of Wakuwaku’ menu from Wakuwaku
Wakuwaku is part of the new 1050 Remuera precinct, home to several restaurants, including Spiga and Thai Village, and independent retailers like Maman, Elle & Riley and The Little Book Shop. Wakuwaku’s glass-walled dining room is a beautiful spot to spend an evening and the Taste of Wakuwaku menu is a great way to sample the best of this Japanese restaurant from Cocoro’s Makoto Tokuyama and head chef Lucas Lee. The menu includes snacks, a colourful plate of sashimi, a tray of six starters (including wagyu tartare, tempura oyster mushrooms and a prawn croquette) and a main of your choice. I went for the tonkatsu pork with sesame sauce, parmesan cream and savoy cabbage. The menu was both generous and delicious and confirms why Wakuwaku is a Viva Top 50 Auckland Restaurant for 2023. — Johanna Thornton, deputy editor