19 Davis Crescent,
(09) 524 8997
The ViewAuckland Review
4 out of 5 stars
It’s been a while since Newmarket has had a top flight restaurant. Sure there are plenty of casual cafes and ethnic eateries, but if you’re looking for one of Auckland’s better dining experiences you’ve really needed to look elsewhere. It’s also been a while since I’ve been so pleasantly undecided when choosing what to order. Given that the concise menu at the new Market Kitchen & Bar only stretches to six or seven main course options, my indecision is truly a reflection of less is more.
The compact Market Kitchen & Bar is sandwiched into the small space on the corner of Davis Crescent and Carlton Gore Rd behind the Olympic Pool. In its most recent incarnation it was the Olympic Café, a perfectly fine but slightly innocuous casual bistro. Now reopened under new owners and with a dramatic interior, it’s become the classy modern bistro Newmarket’s always needed.
When we visit on a Saturday night, the Market Kitchen & Bar has only been open for dinner for 5 nights following a few earlier days of opening for breakfast and lunch. Word is obviously getting round, and the restaurant is already buzzing. The Olympic Café’s bland styling has been ditched for a modern European look with leather banquettes, Art Deco lighting and wooden floors. In the attached bar the designers have been given a freer hand adding chandeliers and candles into the mix. Come winter the bar promises to be a top spot for cocktails, especially if they keep up the focus on retro 1950s lounge music from Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams.
New owners Alistair and Matthew are veterans in the Wellington restaurant scene, and their experience shows in every detail. Wait staff are warm and professional, and the service from the kitchen is perfectly timed. Little details like second guessing my wine choice – yes, the Riesling was too sweet for my pork belly – and a passionate knowledge of the menu from the wait staff make it a memorable night.
But back to that concise and thoughtful menu. Think modern European with hints of France and Italy. My salmon cannelloni entrée ($17) is a delicate spindle of Akaroa salmon atop avocado salsa with baby water cress. A lemon shallot dressing provides a subtle citrus tang. For mains my apple braised pork belly ($28) sits atop a white bean puree and braised savoy cabbage, and effortlessly pulls off the considerable trick of being delicate and pleasingly robust at the same time. Carol’s bluenose fish ($29.50) is cooked in the sous-vide vacuum style to retain the delicate flavours of the dish. The recommendation of our waitress to include a side of sautéed rosemary and garlic potatoes ($8) with decadently creamy aioli is inspired. For dessert we share a trio of freshly made ice-cream – coconut, strawberry and plum flavours – topped with a still warm shortbread biscuit. Along with cocktails in the bar, it shapes up as another fine reason to come back in winter.
In the meantime, just don’t be too surprised to see us back at Market Kitchen & Bar for weekend brunch or lunch.
Market Kitchen and Bar has been reviewed by 6 users