549 Great North Road,
(09) 376 6682
The ViewAuckland Review
Our first visit to Mondial – on a Tuesday night no less – was stymied by a full house, and the impending arrival of another group of 50 diners. Positive word of mouth is obviously getting out about the best little French-Spanish owned tapas bar in town.
We’re much earlier on our second visit, and arrive nice and early at 5pm on a Saturday night. It’s a wise move, as already Mondial is starting to fill up. Behind the bar co-owners Manuel Garcia (from Spain) and Pascal Murello (from France) are dispensing wit, wisdom and a fine array of beers and wines. There are also some excellent Lustau sherries on offer, but I kick off with a Staropramen beer from the Czech Republic. Recent habits die hard OK? The concise beer lists journeys from Prague to France, Spain and Japan, and the wine list is equally well-travelled from New Zealand, France, Spain and Italy. Carol has a Kir Mondial – French bubbles with a dash of cassis blackcurrant liqueur – as we demolish a tiny bowl of spiced peanuts.
Unsurprisingly it’s France and Spain that form the food on offer. Mondial is one of the few places on town that could use the word ‘tapas’ with credibility, but they’ve chosen to call their small plates ‘Bistro Bites’. From the list of around ten on offer, we order four - our group’s now grown to three people – and it’s the Lemon Pepper Calamari with Aioli ($10) and the Spanish Paprika Pork ($12) that last just a few minutes. The calamari is beautifully light and comes in a good-sized portion that would shame most other Auckland eateries. The pork is even better with three substantial pieces of delicately spiced meat. Moroccan Lamb Skewers ($12) and a plate of chorizo, pork terrine and serrano ham ($18) complete the picture.
By now, Mondial is becoming nicely busy. More diners squeeze in beside us, kids from local families are tucking in with equal gusto, and there’s a contented flow of compliments and conversation about the terrific food. It’s all wonderfully authentic, and is effortlessly reminiscent of a backstreets bar in San Sebastian or Barcelona.
A further assault on the savoury options of the Bistro Bites menu is beckoning, but we make the decision to move onto dessert. I guess that just means we’ve got a very good reason to come back. Dessert is all shared mouthfuls of crème caramel, white chocolate pie, and chocolate mousse. Slightly less traditional than our tapas maybe, but a top finish to an outstanding night.
“À bientôt” I say to Pascal as we’re leaving. “See you soon.”
It’s only because I don’t know the Spanish or French translation for “We’ll be back.”
Mondial Cafe has been reviewed by 2 users