33 Shortland Street,
(09) 309 8191
The ViewAuckland Review
4 out of 5
Occupying part of the ground floor of a 1920s office building—where high ceilings, ornate columns, marble floors and heavy wooden doors lend themselves perfectly to becoming a restaurant—Wine Chambers Restaurant pitches itself to corporates.
It’s formal enough to appeal to lawyers and financiers (the inheritors of the very industry which did daily business in this same space).
We visited on a quiet midweek night, and the service from two black-clad waiters for only three couples was snappy, friendly and well paced.
The rock-y piped music (Elton John, female singers covering Crowded House songs) that might seem at odds with such a setting actually worked, as did the unframed wine-themed artwork and bottles displayed in open-fronted cabinets.
The wine list packs some serious punch (once again, something the Shortland Street suits love). It’s made up of what many wine lovers would consider New Zealand classics: Palliser, Pegasus, Herzog, Fromm, Stonyridge … there was also a small-ish but comprehensive European selection.
A straightforward—some might think pedestrian—menu was designed to match, but not overwhelm the wine as the main event. The most ‘fancy’ it got was blue cheese added to a chicken pasta dish.
My companion started with a tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil stack ($17.50). Plenty of rocket had been added to boost the green quotient, spoiling the pure flavours of this classic combination. My pumpkin soup ($12.50) was appropriately creamy, and was jazzed up a bit with cubes of goats’ cheese.
Our mains were not thrilling but, at $25 each, good value for Downtown Auckland. My companion’s chicken breast was slightly overcooked. More disappointing was the accompanying risotto in which the billed leek and almond weren’t obvious enough, and which was cooked with cream. There is no excuse for a chef to add cream: he or she should coax the creaminess from the starch in the rice.
My three strips of well cooked but still tender lamb fillet sat on mashed peas together with grilled summer vegetables: one piece each of eggplant, red capsicum and courgette.
The house pour seemed to be Craggy Range. My companion had their Gimblett Gravels merlot ($11 for a glass) and I had the same with my main in a generous “tasting” size for $5, while I matched a Schlumberger Alsace pinot gris ($6.50 the small pour) with my soup.
Sated, we took the light option for dessert: sweets nicely arranged on a big white rectangular platter ($9.50). Marzipan-filled chocolates, biscotti and stewed strawberries went nicely with strong long black coffees ($3.50).
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