15 August 2012
dining at the commons
New Takapuna hospitality precinct The Commons dishes up a culinary feast.
In just two short weeks, The Commons has firmly cemented itself as the gastronomic gem on an arguably otherwise starved Takapuna landscape.
Open seven days for both lunch and dinner, on the two occasions Denizen has visited, The Commons has been overflowing with enthused locals all keen to support the new cool kid on the block.
For us, one of the major drawcards at The Commons is head chef Nick Honeyman. Somewhat unknown on the Auckland culinary scene, Honeyman’s star has been rising at a rapid pace. In the last twelve months we’ve experienced his excellent cuisine on a number of occasions, and have been overwhelmed by his conceptual style of cooking.
Honeyman specialises in reinterpreting classic flavours by introducing them in an unexpected manner, often presenting the delicate essence of a flavour in a textural element such as shards of meringue, toffee or bubbled foam.
We were therefore eager to sample what Honeyman would create for this new jewel in the Auckland dining crown.
On first glance, the menu at The Commons appears overly simplistic; with dishes given one to two word descriptions. Vanilla Salmon, Tails, and Land and Sea are listed as entrées, while Ox Cheeks with Scotch, Carrot Cake Snapper and Duck Penang are some of the main course options on offer. Thankfully, a comprehensive glossary on the flip side of the menu offers more of an insight into the varied components of each dish.
Right from the outset we were utterly impressed by the taste and texture of our entrées. The delicate flavour of the fresh raw salmon in the Vanilla Salmon dish was enhanced and not over powered by the accompanying mint, thyme, and chilli; the pickled cucumber and coconut sorbet was a deliciously light and creamy complement to the raw fish. We all agreed this dish served as an excellent palate cleanser.
Keen to learn more about Honeyman’s main course dish of “Carrot Cake Snapper” we were pleasantly surprised by both the presentation and the combination of flavours in this unique dish. The classic carrot cake essentials of cream cheese, spices and carrots are all represented here and do a wonderful job of complementing the delicate flavour of the snapper.
The Wakanui Beef Cheeks with Scotch was some of the more tender beef I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. The meat is literally melt in your mouth soft, and offset by the delicious flavours of smoked potato, onions and truffles, this dish takes meat and potatoes to levels rarely seen on these shores.
After such strong showings with Honeyman’s first two courses, we were reluctant to leave without first sampling the desserts. Honeyman’s skills are further enhanced here by the talents of pastry chef Tony Price, also known as the third runner up in the recent season of MasterChef NZ.
The duos desserts are simply out of this world. As someone who finds it hard to say no to a piña colada, the dreary weather outside was the perfect excuse to lose ourselves in a taste of the tropics. And what an escape it was. Coconut brûlée is served with compressed pineapple, soft coconut meringue, rum and colada sorbet, topped off with a dramatic tower of colada flavoured bubbles that had the same playful appeal as bubbles overflowing in a bubble bath.
Also of note was the Roquefort and white chocolate. If like me, you like your desserts on the not so sweet side, this delicious treat combines the sweetness of poached pears and white chocolate with the savoury flavour of creamy Roquefort cheese – not a cheeseboard, but a serious dessert, and it’s utterly delicious.
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon at The Commons, Honeyman has certainly done an excellent job at creating a menu full of delicious surprises.
With the opening of The Common Room (a degustation only dining room also helmed by Honeyman) on the not too distant horizon, my fellow guests and I have all vowed to return for a gluttonous evening at the hands of the very talented Mr Honeyman and his team.
21 Hurstmere Road
(09) 929 2791www.thecommons.co.nz