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279 Parnell Road,

(09) 309 6289

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byCandice Reed5/04/2009

4 out of 5 stars

Walking along the cobble stone path towards VBG hand in hand with my partner I suddenly had a ghastly thought. What if we weren’t fancy enough to be going to VBG? Casual Friday at work saw him dressed in jeans and a polo shirt and sporting smart casual sneakers on his feet, Friday afternoon babysitting saw me also in jeans, a t-shirt and wearing a slouch cap. Approaching the wooden stairs leading up to VBG – or Veranda Bar and Grill – I felt a little under dressed. So while smoothing down my slightly crinkled t-shirt I took a deep breath and walked through the door all the while anticipating a tap on the shoulder. My fears turned out to be completely unfounded, instead of being greeted with a disappointing look and raised eyebrow we were both greeted with a big warm smile and some small talk about the weather before being escorted to a table.

A wave of relief passed over me and I finally exhaled.

That’s the kind of establishment VBG is. Fancy by reputation, but actually very down to earth in reality. There’s no pressure here and accepting tap water is encouraged. “I just don’t understand why people ever pay for water ...” mused our waiter while pouring chilled water fresh from the tap into our glasses.

For over 25 years VBG has been a trademark of Auckland’s restaurant scene. It’s been through highs and lows, renovations and revamps, stock market crashes and economic booms. Today it’s still a favourite with many Aucklanders, mostly due to its impeccable service, extensive wine and cocktail list (there’s over 65 wines on offer by the glass and 210 varieties by the bottle!) and delicious European inspired meals.

There’s even a private room for hire, which has recently been refurbished with a separate street entry. The Friday night we dined in the private room was hosting a birthday party which was just getting underway as we left. The dining area was equally as popular, with couples, groups of girls and friends all occupying tables.

After hearing the specials we mused over the menu before deciding there was no way either of us could go past the aforementioned specials – so grilled snapper with crab and in-season veges for him ($35) and chicken roularde, that is roasted chicken stuffed with ricotta cheese, bacon and glazed with mushrooms ($34) for me.

The impeccable service did not wane throughout the night, with five minute updates and apologies on the ETA of our mains. Apparently the slight delay was my fault, as the chicken takes longer to cook, but I can vouch the wait is worth it. The chicken melted in my mouth leaving the ricotta to linger just long enough encouraging the next mouthful not to be too far away.

When plates were cleared, dessert menu’s appeared. I narrowed it down to twice baked strawberry soufflé and chocolate torte with macerated balsamic prunes and white chocolate ice cream (both $15). I opted for the soufflé, which came with another 15 minute time warning. Fortunately we were in no hurry and happy to enjoy the pleasant ambience emanating from the angled roof and feature beams in the restaurant. Clever use of mirrors also maximises the space of VBG.

Some 20 minutes later the soufflé arrived and vanished, again proof was in the pudding with the bowl scrapped clean.

Eventually we bid farewell to the staff and walked hand in hand back down the cobble stone path feeling very satisfied and definitely worthy of dining at VBG.

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