The Dish: Tala Restaurant Opens, Lilian Does Lunches & More Delicious Food News

By Johanna Thornton
Chef Henry Onesemo is ready to welcome diners to his new restaurant Tata. Photo / Manja Wachsmuth

This week we’re visiting new Auckland restaurants, eating silky-smooth hummus and enjoying spicy margaritas in a can.

Tala restaurant opens in the ex-Pasture space

The final touches have been completed on contemporary Samoan restaurant Tala and the doors are set to open on November 3. Viva caught up with chef Henry Onesemo and his wife Debby ahead of their restaurant opening to talk about their bold plans for the space, and sample a dish from the star of the show: the open fire for cooking umu-style dishes. Design studio Seear-Budd Ross’ impressive reimagining of the ex-Pasture space in Parnell into a moody, cave-like dining room has now taken shape. The menu has also been finalised, with the Tala team set to transport you with their two tasting menus inspired by the food of Henry’s childhood in Samoa.

The ‘chef’s journey’ is the ultimate Tala experience, seated at the chef’s counter with views of the kitchen and chefs. The ‘fāgogo journey’ is a slightly shorter menu, which guests can enjoy in the comfy banquette area. The showcase dish will be spatchcock chicken cooked in the umu, alongside a “feasting dish of sapasui with lamb and pork belly”.

“After so long planning Tala we couldn’t be more thrilled to finally open the doors this week and welcome in our first guests,” says Henry. “We love the new space — it’s a blend of smoke and fire and sophistication and fun. We can’t wait for our guests to experience the hospitality and food of Samoa in a whole new way.” 235 Parnell Rd, Parnell.

Gemmayze Street's moreish, silky hummus.
Gemmayze Street's moreish, silky hummus.

Finally, Gemmayze Street’s hummus is available to take home

We’re big fans of Lebanese restaurant Gemmayze Street’s silky-smooth hummus at Viva, and have been known to order an extra serving or two. Now, it’s available to eat at home with the release of Gemmayze Street’s jarred hummus, available from all Daily Bread outlets. Handmade in small batches by Gemmayze Street head chef and owner-operator Samir Allen, it takes three days to create from scratch and is based on his family’s recipe.

“People were always asking after dining at Gemmayze Street if there was any way to take our hummus home. We started selling it casually by the jar during Covid lockdowns. Making it official was the natural next step,” says Samir. “It goes with everything: cheeseboards, roast or barbecued meat, all kinds of vege dishes and salads, served simply with bread or even on its own. It’s perfect for parties or intimate family meals.” The jars would make an ideal gift, with their top layer of paprika-infused oil and beautiful labels by Sam Montgomery.

$16, from Daily Bread Auckland-wide.

Grey Lynn osteria Lilian. Photo / Babiche Martens
Grey Lynn osteria Lilian. Photo / Babiche Martens

Grey Lynn osteria Lilian is now open for lunch

Anyone who’s ever queued for a table at the always bustling Grey Lynn osteria and wine bar Lilian will love this news: the restaurant is now open for lunches on Fridays and Saturdays. They’re also taking lunch bookings for groups of any size — so you can guarantee a daytime serving of Lilian’s famous lamb ribs with black garlic and pistachios or its woodfired bread with chicken liver parfait. Chef and co-owner Otis Schapiro says diners have been asking for a lunch service since they opened.

“It’s something we always planned to do from the start — we had a Friday/Saturday lunch hours sign written on to the front window before we opened. We ended up scratching off the hours when we decided our kitchen was too small to do a lunch service and prep for the evening. It’s something our customers have been asking for for a long time and we’ve added a prep kitchen upstairs to make it all work,” says Otis. Cheers to that. 472 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn.

The Weekender 24-day gin advent calendar.
The Weekender 24-day gin advent calendar.

Secure a gin-filled advent calendar ahead of Christmas

Picture this: a Christmas advent calendar containing baubles filled with premium New Zealand gin from award-winning distilleries like Roots Dry Gin, Waiheke Distilling London Dry Gin, Dancing Sands Sauvignon Blanc Gin and Lighthouse Original Gin.

The limited-edition The Weekender Advent Calendar contains 24 baubles in a numbered drawer, providing a memorable gift and a fun way to taste a range of gins and celebrate the lead-up to Christmas.

The Weekender was founded by Jennie Jago, who offers more Christmassy treats like the 12 Days of Christmas Tasting Box, Christmas crackers containing a bauble and matched East Imperial mixer, and gift boxes of three or six gin baubles.

“Most of us have a gin lover in our lives, and our curated gin gifts will please even the most discerning of gin drinkers. Every box or bauble contains an element of surprise whether it be the bespoke packaging, edible gold leaf inside a hanging bauble or the butterfly pea protein that turns the gin bauble into a naturally vibrant hue of purple,” says Jennie.

The final day for ordering an advent calendar this year is November 17, so get in quick. The 12-Day and 24-Day Gin Advent Calendar are $175 and $295 respectively, from The Weekender.

Alba’s spicy new chilli margarita.
Alba’s spicy new chilli margarita.

On the shelf: Alba’s chilli margarita in a can

New Zealand-based RTD brand Alba has a spicy new product on shelves this week. Its chilli margarita is the fourth flavour from the brand, which specialises in tequila-based drinks, a journey that has seen Alba’s founder Michal Tutty travel to Mexico to gain the necessary paperwork to sell the spirit — tequila is a trademarked word that demands adherence to stringent processes regulated by the Mexican Tequila Regulatory Council.

With approval gained, Michal was able to release his range of canned margaritas, which combine quality tequila with Mexican agave, Mexican lime juice, Cointreau extract and sparkling water. The spicy margarita has the addition of Kaitaia Fire and isn’t for the faint-hearted — there’s a kick to this one!

$16 for four, from all good liquor stores.

Forest's kūmara dish. Photo / Babiche Martens
Forest's kūmara dish. Photo / Babiche Martens

What The Viva Team Has Been Eating And Drinking This Week...

Kūmara and Marmite from Forest

”I was welcomed to a celebratory dinner at Forest in its new Dominion Rd location over the weekend and was excited to try the reimagined plant-based restaurant after its shift from Eden Terrace. As there was such a large group of diners, we were able to sample all of their seasonal mains — I was particularly taken with the kūmara, with Marmite cream and capery peas and the coriander marinated cucumber with Clevedon buffalo curd. The seaweed-dusted fries were also a delicious bite. It’s such a lovely spot to dine in and I was so impressed with the new leafy, and much roomier, space. I’ll try to return to the vegetarian haven for their daytime operations sometime this week (before that shift halts on Saturday).” — Madeleine Crutchley, multimedia journalist

Cheese souffle at Gilt Brasserie

“Josh and Helen Emett’s new inner-city restaurant Gilt Brasserie has a lot going for it: a glamorous dining room; a brilliant menu and martini Mondays ($15 martinis all day). It was full of happy diners on a recent Friday lunch sitting, enjoying carafes of wine, cocktails and a menu of European bistro classics like roast duck frites with sauce l’Orange, minute steak and king crab pappardelle. It felt like stepping into a restaurant in Manhattan, and I think that’s the point — Josh and Helen want to transport you somewhere fab with Gilt. Its location in the law society chambers has translated quite literally into the decor, with tongue-in-cheek touches like Gilt-branded matches declaring ‘Motion to strike!’ Don’t miss the light-as-air three-cheese souffle, or the tomato schnitzel, which is a tender piece of crumbed and fried tomato with a tomato butter sauce and fresh basil.” — Johanna Thornton, deputy editor

Birria tacos at Broke Boy Tacos

“Broke Boy Tacos is, by several metrics (the languid music, the confidence), a cool place to eat, and has become something of a hub in the short time it’s been open at its Mount Albert outpost. The small, sparse space was so busy on the night I visited that it required a numbering system, while a voice reverberated from a tiny speaker over the door and the queue that spilled onto the pavement. Choose between a Plate (three tacos and consome) or the Big Plate (four tacos and consome), chips and guac, and add-ons like cheese, avocado, and sour cream. This is Birria tacos as they should be, with a tender density and an unavoidable messiness.” — Julia Gessler, digital editor

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