Andiamo.

Conventional restaurant booking times are filling up fast, have you considered making an off-peak reservation?

You’ve got to feel for the hospitality and service industries — each time there’s a government announcement, it must be akin to whiplash as they scramble to pivot, pivot, and pivot again.  As the latest ‘traffic light system’ confirmation has resulted in an avalanche of bookings for many restaurants, cafés and bars (for which they are undoubtedly grateful) we see fit to remind you that although we’re all looking forward to a proper Friday night meal out, thinking outside the box for reservations is another great way to support eateries.

It might be a Tuesday after-work dinner, a mid-afternoon high tea on the weekend or an early supper with the children, but spreading the love will help take the pressure off during those peak times and give eateries a steadier schedule to work with.

From left: Huami; Prego.

For an early supper with the children…

Masu
An eternal family favourite, kids can enjoy a bento box with all the beloved Japanese delicacies, all while mum and dad enjoy some delicious fare from the regular menu and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.

Azabu Mission Bay
Swing by this Eastern Beaches beauty on the way home from school, and the kids can tuck into a special menu of sushi, bento boxes, chicken karaage and more. Did we mention a complimentary ice cream scoop for dessert?

Huami
SkyCity’s sophisticated Chinese restaurant bridges the traditional and the modern. The expansive menu is sure to have something for everyone and serves dinner from 5:30pm, Wednesday to Saturday.

Baduzzi
Get ’em started on the good stuff at a young age with Baduzzi’s kids’ menu. Book for dinner from 5pm for dishes like handmade buttered pasta with herbs and parmesan and organic lamb meatballs braised in tomato sauce.

Prego
The Ponsonby Road stalwart is famed for its welcoming attitude to those of all ages. Park up in the late afternoon for an early bite and experience Prego’s much-loved hospitality and Italian fare.

From left: Gochu; Soul Bar & Bistro.

For a tasty weekday lunch…

Culprit
The innovative Wyndham Street eatery has one of the best weekday lunches in town. Pull up for its Trolley Derby menu, designed to be speedy, seasonal and most of all utterly delicious, or order a la carte.

Gochu
Open 7 days, 11:30am until late, Gochu is an ideal spot to pull up to if you’re working in town or simply just have a craving for its big-on-flavour modern Korean dishes.

Ebisu
Head down to this elevated Japanese favourite between Tuesday and Friday, and enjoy a midday meal of classic favourites and Bento boxes — or settle in for a longer lounging lunch.

Soul Bar & Bistro
Soul is an excellent choice for lunch, especially on a sunny day with the water sparkling beside. We’ll have the crayfish capellini, thank you — and a glass of something good. Why not, it’s festive season!

The Crab Shack
Head down to Princes Wharf for one of the best lunchtime deals in town — between 12-3pm, the $15 lunch special includes a choice of either ‘Bang Bang’ chicken salad, barbeque prawn tacos or sensational seafood chowder.

Cafe Hanoi
The fresh, flavoursome food at Britomart’s Vietnamese institution Cafe Hanoi is perfect for a weekday lunch when you want to be satisfied but not too weighed down. Book in for lunch Monday to Saturday.

The Engine Room
Nip over the bridge (or down the road if you’re local) Wednesday to Friday and Northcote’s neighbourhood restaurant will have you well taken care of with its beloved bistro fare.

Sid at The French Café
While it’s usually open for dinner Tuesday to Friday and lunch and dinner on a Saturday, the Eden Terrace fine dining favourite is offering lunch on Fridays for the month of December. A great way to see out the week, we think.

Jervois Steak House
The famous Steak Your Claim lunch-for-two offer returns to JSH, boasting two mains, two sides, and two glasses of selected wine for only $90. Now, that’s sure to put a pep in your step for the rest of the day.

From Left: Ahi; Bar Celeste.

For dinner on a Monday or Tuesday…

Ahi
With Commercial Bay’s eateries open seven days, Ben Bayly’s “truly New Zealand restaurant” Ahi is a fantastic option on a Monday and Tuesday.

The Lodge Bar & Dining
Same goes for The Lodge Bar & Dining, delicious any day of the week but we think its incredible oysters, small plates and mains are a perfect way to end a Monday.

Bar Celeste
The K’ Rd cutie is bound to be booked up on peak nights for December, but why not try your luck on a Tuesday for some of the best French neo-bistro food in town?

Pici
Across the road in St Kevins Arcade, the pasta masters at Pici plate up dinner from Tuesday to Sunday, with lunch available Wednesday to Saturday.

Ghost Street
Head downstairs to the cosy and atmospheric Ghost Street, open Monday to Sunday, and dig into its punchy, elevated Chinese dishes.

The Blue Breeze Inn
Open seven days for lunch and dinner, Blue Breeze has us covered whenever we’re craving that pork belly bao. Which is, always.

Onslow
Described as ‘refined but not fine-dining’, the menu spans the likes of fried chicken with caviar to the fluffiest soufflé we can ever recall sampling, making for the perfect spot to celebrate the festive season on a Monday or Tuesday.

From left: Siso; Bucks Bistro.

For a Sunday family catch-up...

Siso
The expansive Remuera restaurant has plenty of room for groups of any size, and its contemporary Mediterranean menu will appeal to all.

Andiamo
We’ve certainly missed Sunday lunches at this Herne Bay neighbourhood stalwart.

Akarana Eatery
Take in one of the best ocean views in Auckland at Akarana, which has plenty of plates for the whole family to enjoy.

Bucks Bistro
Giving its ocean view a hefty amount of competition, this recent addition to Bucklands Beach is open from 8am on Sundays, and its food is excellent.

Non Solo Pizza
Another restaurant sorely missed over lockdown, get everyone together for Non Solo’s family-style long lunches on the weekend.

From left: The Living Room; Hotel Ponsonby.

For a mid-afternoon weekend session…

The Living Room
Enjoy a light meal or indulge in Park Hyatt Auckland’s Afternoon Tea, a journey of discovery served in a playful style where nostalgia and modernity merge.

Ostro
Book in for high tea, Sundays from 12 to 3pm, and enjoy exquisite savoury and sweet treats washed down with a flute of Veuve Clicquot.

Hotel Ponsonby
While this popular watering hole heaves on a Friday and Saturday night, the vibe on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon is positively wholesome.

Parasol & Swing
Offering an incredible view across the waters of Viaduct Harbour, this rooftop bar is a summertime favourite of ours. Indulge in one of Parasol & Swing’s seasonal cocktails and you’ll be setting yourself up for a perfect afternoon. 

Northcote Tavern
Grab a crew and a brew, and park up in the sundrenched garden for an afternoon at this North Shore gem.

Rooftop at QT
Nab a spot on the balcony at QT’s Rooftop bar, and stick around for the impeccably mixed drinks as well as Mediterranean bites.

Saint Alice
Glorious views and lip-smacking food collide in this enticing spot. Expect to find woodfired delights, ranging from pork spare ribs to pizza, alongside top-notch seafood and refreshing sangria and Pimm’s jugs.

Gastronomy


Faradays opens its flagship bar, a sumptuous oasis of delicious bites and delectable pours

This inner-city eatery has been given a new look and a new lease on life by hospitality maestro David Lee

Back in the city? Keep that holiday feeling going with Auckland’s best outdoor dining restaurants
This outdoor area features two Saparella Fireside chairs, Sette sofa, Corner seat and footstool by Michel Ducaroy for Ligne Roset (ligne.nz).

Out-do yourself with the best outdoor furniture to order for any al fresco arrangement

Exceed all expectations with outdoor living spaces that are at one with the landscape, while being in step with your lifestyle. From poolside lounging to pillowy seating and dining among the elements, these are the furniture and outdoor decor pieces to consider for both comfort and style.

Carvalho lounger and the Miramar lounger duo by Coco Wolf.

A summer by the pool is one excellently spent, so why not invest in cohesive lounge suites and recliners that enhance your sense of serenity. Refined forms with calming cool-toned cushions and natural wooden frames are the ultimate in laid-back luxury.

Clockwise: Shady umbrella by Royal Botania from ECC, Hora Sexta lounger by Antonio Citterio for Flexform from Studio Italia, Aquila Nest of tables from Coco Wolf, Rere Sun lounger from Devon.

The Thousand Oaks home by Nicole Hollis and Rios Clementi Hale Studios.

Where Slim Aarons meets David Hockney, a pool pavilion encourages colourful outdoor entertaining. Strong concrete tables and durable domed ottomans make it possible to bring the indoors-out — in a confident reversal of interior design prowess.

Clockwise: Harp armchair by Rodolfo Dordoni for Roda from ECC , Kyoto rug by Minotti from ECC, Tobi-Ishi table by Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby for B&B Italia from Matisse, Tono pouf by Kris Van Puyvelde for Royal Botania from ECC.

Marenco outdoor sofa and armchair by Mario Marenco for Arflex from Studio Italia.

As you create shapes from the billows above (and your own imagination), float into a reverie on pillowy lounge chairs and soft sofas. Add an anchoring coffee table, and you’ll have all you need for a blissful afternoon in the breeze.

Clockwise: Boogie armchair for Bullfrog from Sarsfield Brooke, Opito low table from Devon, Butterfly outdoor sofa by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia from Matisse.

Quadrado table by Marcio Kogan of Studio MK27 for Minotti and five Tape Cord outdoor dining chairs by Nendo for Minotti from ECC.

While the elements may form the backdrop of an al fresco meal, allow a well-appointed dining suite to be the star ingredient. Echo nature’s colour palette with wood and clever wicker-effect pieces, as seen on Studio MK27’s teak Quadrado table and Minotti’s Tape Cord dining chairs.

Clockwise: CTR Club chair by Piergiorgio Cazzaniga for Tribù from Dawson & Co, Echoes dining chair by Christophe Pillet for Flexform from Studio Italia, Rere side dining chair from Devon, Erica dining chair by Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia from Matisse, Lapel dining chair by Busetti Garuti Redaelli from Ligne Roset, Serpentine outdoor chair by Eléonore Nalet from Ligne Roset.

Design


Don’t miss your chance to be a part of The Reserve, one of Auckland’s most idyllic developments

Making an art out of illumination, these interestingly-shaped table lamps will light your imagination

A vacation-feeling is this family home’s vocation, with Nina Maya’s carefree yet highly curated interior design

Denizen Everday Heroes 2021: Auckland’s favourite nail bar, as voted by you

At the end of next week, we can finally tend to our talons and give our highly sanitised hands the tender love and care they deserve. To nail such an anticipated appointment, look no further than our Denizen Everyday Heroes results.

The 2021 Denizen Everyday Heroes saw over 12,000 votes cast in support of local businesses, with the aim of shining a light on the people and places whose services we rely upon. Here is Auckland’s favourite nail bar, and honourable mentions, as voted by the manicure mavens among us.

MOST VOTED: The Art of Nails, Citywide
With walk-in locations in Newmarket, Ponsonby, Albany, and Commercial Bay, The Art of Nails is the place to go when you want a quick, slick manicure or pedicure in a clean and comfortable environment. Its team is also open to a range of creative nail art ideas if you want to experiment with the sophisticated moon-shaped manicure, or the French tip revival.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Spring Spa, Ponsonby & St Heliers
Contemporary beauty and wellness spa Spring brings a little bit of Bali to Auckland with its two lush locations. When it comes to the nail menu, Spring is at the forefront of new polish treatments and special, supreme manicures.

HONOURABLE MENTION: East Day Spa, Auckland CBD
Since it was established in 2002, East Day Spa has become the premier spa destination for when only a premium pampering will do. Located in the SkyCity Grand Hotel, the nail salon is a chic retreat in the city, with unparalleled manicures and pedicures.

The rest of the best…

The Nail Bar, Ponsonby

Miss Maisy, Sandringham

INCO Studio, Ponsonby

Diamond Nails, Ponsonby

Nails by Brooke, Newmarket

iCandy Nails, Ponsonby

Biba Salon, Birkenhead

Nail Garden, Epsom

The Beauty Bar, Parnell

Index Studio, Grey Lynn

Perfection Nails, Citywide

Lovely Nails, Auckland CBD

Forme Spa, Citywide

Verdo, Parnell

Nailz 27, Eden Terrace

Satomi Nails, Auckland CBD

Orly Nail Girls, Citywide

2021 Everyday Heroes


Denizen Everyday Heroes 2021: Auckland’s favourite clothing alterations, as voted by you

Denizen Everyday Heroes 2021: Auckland’s favourite massage therapist, as voted by you

Denizen Everyday Heroes 2021: Auckland’s favourite facialist, as voted by you

Gin lovers, this new limited-edition launch from Scapegrace is set to be a very special addition to your cabinet

Since launching in 2014 and winning the Worlds Best London Dry Gin award in 2018, independent New Zealand distillery Scapegrace has solidified its reputation for trailblazing spirits that bottle our country’s unique, clean flavours for enjoyment around the globe. 

Its latest launch is no different, encompassing a range of new craft spirits that celebrate the true diversity of New Zealand’s seasonal produce and botanicals. Named ‘Uncommon’, every spirit released within this new category is to be limited edition, with 3,000 individually numbered bottles of each that only amplify the range’s exclusivity. 

For the first outing of the Uncommon range, two completely distinct styles of gin have been created that showcase two different regions, and varying harvest periods. 

There’s the Central Otago Early Harvest, with its botanical profile of nectarine and lavender, smoked hay and pollen, bringing young, fresh and ripe flavours to the fore. The Hawke’s Bay Late Harvest, on the other hand, encapsulates raspberry leaf, pear and olive brine for a slightly sweet yet tart drop that lingers with residual flavour.

From left: Central Otago Early Harvest; Hawke’s Bay Late Harvest.

Having collaborated with acclaimed hospitality virtuoso Mikey Ball on a selection of signature serves, Scapegrace’s Uncommon cocktails are just the quenching creations we want to be sipping this summer. Mix up a Bianca (a light and refreshing ode to the Negroni) which combines 20ml of Central Otago Early Harvest, 15ml of Americano Vermouth, a dash of orange bitters and is topped with soda water.

The Karamu Sip recipe sees 50ml of Hawkes Bay Late Harvest combined with 10ml of dry vermouth and a dash of hopped bitters, garnished with kaffir lime leaf for a fragrant take on a martini.

Thanks to their thoughtful, craft-centric creation and exclusivity, the Uncommon spirits make a brilliant gift — both for yourself, and someone else, and can be found at all good liquor stores nationwide and on the Scapegrace website.

Gastronomy


Faradays opens its flagship bar, a sumptuous oasis of delicious bites and delectable pours

This inner-city eatery has been given a new look and a new lease on life by hospitality maestro David Lee

Back in the city? Keep that holiday feeling going with Auckland’s best outdoor dining restaurants
Amano picnic box.

Go all out — It’s your last chance to enjoy these lavish level 3 picnic boxes

With residents of Tāmaki Makaurau enjoying increasingly social outdoor gatherings over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been enjoying the chance to explore some of our favourite eateries in a more casual, al fresco fashion with friends and family. As we eagerly await the return to restaurants in-person, we’ve become aware that several local hospitality businesses who have tweaked their offering to include picnic-specific packs and selections will be stopping these when we move to the new traffic light system. This is your last weekend to enjoy our pick(nic) of the bunch below, and for other special takeaway options see our very extensive level 3 takeaways guide.

Left to right: The NSP Ultimate Picnic; OJI Sushi Sando Pack.

Savor Goods
With its varied and extensive stable of eateries, Savor has a whole host of picnic packs to order online. Curated by its chefs at Amano, Ostro, Lobster & Tap, NSP and Oji sushi, these picnic boxes take the hard work out of picnic planning, with an assortment of treats for the ultimate al fresco feast. From Amano‘s bakery, find varying boxes of sweet and savoury selections, filled with its famous pastries, sandwiches and Kumeu orange juice. Oji Sushi has a fresh spin on a sandwich lunch available with its family pack of Japanese-style sandos that includes a katsu chicken, katsu prawn, spicy lobster and Japanese egg rendition. Oji also has large sushi platters on offer. NSP will bring Italian flair to any sit-down session with its aperitivo picnic box, and Ostro is very appealing indeed with its picnic roast (including organic, free-range roasted chicken, baguettes, potato salad and more), its seafood platter or takeaway high tea. See Savor’s website for pick-up or delivery options.

Left to right: Andiamo PICNIC TO GO; Park Hyatt.

Andiamo
Linger even longer at a beachside lunch with Herne Bay Italian staple Andiamo’s picnic boxes that contain a generous selection of goodies. Expect the likes of housemade focaccia; fresh crostini with whipped cannellini beans, preserved lemon and roasted garlic; chicken liver pâté, pickled cherries and pistachio tuille; an antipasti selection; Ceasar salad; fresh cannoli — and more. Order by phone on 09-378 7811 or email [email protected] Contactless collection times are Monday to Thursday, 4pm – 8pm and Friday to Sunday, 12pm – 8pm.

Park Hyatt Auckland
For a truly next level al fresco experience, we suggest ordering one of Park Hyatt’s afternoon tea boxes — with sizes available for small to large groups. Available every weekend, Friday to Sunday, each box contains a scrumptious selection of sweet and savoury treats, similar to what would be served for Park Hyatt’s famous Afternoon Tea in non-lockdown times. Order a box per person, or there are more decadent options — the ‘luxe picnic’ for four includes a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Brut Champagne while the ‘extravaganza picnic’ for 10 comprises a truly indulgent selection of treats — plus two bottles of Champagne to really take things up a notch. In both boxes, expect the likes of parmesan éclairs and bacon & egg quiche; salmon & dill sandwiches and ham brie & chutney rolls; strawberry shortcake, dulcey honey petit gateaux; salted caramel chocolate tart… and more. Find all ordering details here.

Côte.

Côte
The bespoke caterer has a delicious selection of platter boxes to perk up any picnic, available for delivery Auckland-wide. Choose from the Luxury Charcuterie Platter Box, featuring a host of lip smacking snacks including artisan cheeses and Cote’s popular seeded crackers; the Mānuka Smoked NZ King Salmon Platter Box with cashew caper cream, house-made pickles, seeded crackers and caper berries; or the new Champagne and Oysters Platter Box, which is deliciously self-explanatory. With all boxes feeding eight to ten people, orders must be placed at leat 48 hours in advance. Email [email protected] to secure your platter box.

Left to right: Bar Céleste; Orphans Kitchen.

Bar Céleste
Each weekend, Bar Céleste has conjured up seasonal specialties to enjoy with our nearest and dearest. This weekend, the delectable range includes a freshly baked baguette with seaweed butter, saucisson, porchetta with salsa verde and relish, and a pithivier pie with jambon blanc and gruyère. If this wasn’t enough of a feast for the senses, you can also add freshly shucked oysters, prawn cocktails, and a fresh strawberry and almond tart to your picnic scene. Did we mention, Bar Céleste’s sommelier will pair a bottle of exquisite wine with your selection?

Orphans Kitchen
The Orphans picnic box is sure to have you feeling sunny even if the clouds are blocking out those rays. It’s a make-your-own-sandwich kind of a situation, with a very enviable selection of Orphans favourites including nasturtium pesto, red lentil hummus, pickled egg with aioli, Mt Cook salmon gravlax and more — all on Daily Bread’s famous baguette. Pick up is from the Ponsonby Road cafe window, between 10am and 2pm, 7 days a week.

Poni Picnic.

The Poni Room
Those of us who have missed the fun, fusion flavours of Commercial Bay eatery The Poni Room now have the opportunity to serve up a different kind of picnic. Feeding six to eight people, Poni Picnic comes ready to eat in steam baskets that you can take home for good and comprises twice-cooked duck breast, duck legs, bao buns, pancakes, hoisin sauce, chilli dressing, pickles and lettuce cups. See The Poni Room’s website for pick-up details.

Gastronomy


Faradays opens its flagship bar, a sumptuous oasis of delicious bites and delectable pours

This inner-city eatery has been given a new look and a new lease on life by hospitality maestro David Lee

Back in the city? Keep that holiday feeling going with Auckland’s best outdoor dining restaurants
Left to right: Givenchy Fall 21, Louis Vuitton Cruise 22, Max Mara Resort 22.

The chain-embellished trend is everywhere right now — here’s how to wear it best

Link up with this season’s way to wear a chain: eschewing all subtlety. The likes of JW Anderson, Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton have ensured this finishing touch is one you won’t want to skip. Embellishing a flowing gown, a statement handbag or shoes, it’s classic redefined.

Left: JW Anderson Asymmetric Chain-Embellished Paneled Satin Maxi dress from Net-A-Porter, Bottega Veneta Chain-trim scoop-neck wool sweater from Matches Fashion, Givenchy Chain-embellished cropped ribbed jersey T-shirt from Net-A-Porter, Cinched Balloon dress from Louis Vuitton.
Clockwise: Black Soft Nappa Leather Clutch Bag with Multichain Bracelet Daisy bag from Jimmy Choo, Padded nappa leather shoulder bag from Prada, Mount Raintree bag from Bottega Veneta, Chloé Juana Chain bag from Workshop, Chain Cassette Cobalt from Bottega Veneta, JW Anderson Chain large textured-leather tote from Net-A-Porter.
Clockwise: Anine Bing Tony sandals from Muse Boutique, Giuseppe Zanotti Evry Velvet sandals from Faradays, Bottega Veneta Stretch chain-strap leather sandals from Matches Fashion, Sunset Chain sandals from Saint Laurent.

Coveted


The It-bags for 2022 are far from conventional — try these sculptural handbags on for size

Partridge Jewellers’ new in-house jewellery line — Partridge Hallmark — is ready to shine bright

Forget the grey area and lean into monochrome with these stylish black and white outfits

A cocooning exercise in contrasts, Faye Toogood’s Puffy Lounge Chair is a modern design icon

One of the world’s most eminent women in the contemporary design realm, Faye Toogood is a multi-disciplinarian who is well-versed in creating products that manage to be both intriguing and highly desirable. Based in London, the British designer’s eponymous company Toogood spans fashion, furniture, interior design and both functional and decorative objects. 

While she is untrained, beginning her career as an editor at The World of Interiors magazine, she has honed a shrewd eye for pieces that demonstrate a focus on materiality and experimentation. No doubt, those with even a passing interest in design trends will have seen the Toogood Roly-Poly chair in all its Neotenic glory appear in multiple shades throughout luxury interior projects worldwide.

Faye Toogood.

The latest Toogood piece we’re enchanted by is the Puffy Lounge Chair, available in New Zealand from Tim Webber. Designed for European brand and platform Hem, it is an exercise in contrasts — both plump and structured, cocooning and strong. Comprising a tubular steel frame as its base, its quilt-like upholstery spills generously over the edges. 

Taking practicality into consideration, the soft upper is detachable, and can be rendered in varying neutral fabrication shades to suit any interior configuration, from black leather to cream canvas and brown bouclé. The frame can also be powder-coated or sand-blasted to complement or contrast with the upholstery. 

Like a warm hug, this is a chair that immediately invites the user to curl up within it, or perhaps drape one’s legs over one side. As Toogood describes it, the Puffy Lounge Chair has “a dependable durability coupled with all the enveloping warmth of a familiar duvet”. Lucky, this comfort doesn’t mean aesthetics are sacrificed in the slightest, meaning this is one piece of sensational seating that rests among the best of both worlds.

Design


Don’t miss your chance to be a part of The Reserve, one of Auckland’s most idyllic developments

Making an art out of illumination, these interestingly-shaped table lamps will light your imagination

A vacation-feeling is this family home’s vocation, with Nina Maya’s carefree yet highly curated interior design
Richard and Paula Sigley.

An ode to Euro: Richard and Paula Sigley reflect on the memorable highlights of their 20-year ownership

After the shocking news of Euro’s permanent closure in October as a result of the challenges caused by the pandemic, Auckland’s on-going CBD roadworks, severe staffing shortages due to locked borders and working visa issues, the couple behind one of the city’s most loved stalwart eateries share some of the memorable highlights of their 20-year ownership.

My first introduction to Euro was in late 1999. I’d returned for a short holiday in Auckland while residing full time in New York. Back then, the Auckland hospitality scene was tightly held by a few leaders in their field, many of whom — Chris Rupe at SPQR, Kelvin Gibson at Prego, Mark Wallbank, and Jeremy Turner at Cibo — are still operating today. 

To say that I was greatly affected by the cosmopolitan life I was leading in New York at that time, would be an understatement. Living across the street from such famed institutions as Keith McNally’s Pastis, and being an almost too regular patron at Balthazar, left me with what I can sagely look back on as delusions of grandeur. So, when presented with the proposition of Auckland’s shiny new hotspot of hedonism, Euro delivered in spades a renewed enthusiasm for a city I once viewed as being well below my lofty international standards.

First opening in 1999 in the lead up to the America’s Cup, Euro fast became the place to be. It attracted lawyers from Shortland Street, advertising executives from Parnell, and financial pundits behind what turned out to be some of the country’s dodgiest Ponzi schemes, all wielding expense accounts and gold cards with never-ending spending limits. Deals were made here over the longest lunches imaginable. Back then, long lunching was an art form; those with the greatest stamina and cunning, generally got the deal signed, sealed and delivered on the spot.

Richard Sigley was involved in Euro from its inception, initially in his capacity as general manager of on-premise operations at Dominion Breweries, who provided the funding for the first owner, before he took full ownership in 2000. 

Richard and his wife Paula, have become much loved friends of mine in the years since, and it was with immense sadness that I witnessed them make the very personal and heartbreaking decision to shut the doors to their iconic eatery after more than 20 years of consistent operation. 

Anyone who knows the Sigleys will immediately regale them as solid, great people; the ultimate duo, who care greatly for each other, and equally for their staff. Which is why it’s important to note here, that it was the ability to keep all of their staff employed — during an utterly devastating period for the hospitality industry — that forced them to close the doors on their first child, Euro, rather than to lose valuable employees that they consider part of the family. 

I caught up with my old friends recently to reminisce about the good times, and celebrate the resounding success that they had built together.

“Looking back, we really grew up at Euro,” says Paula. “It initially started with the crazy party days, then we had two children (now aged 11 and 14), and have come out the other side of it with a group of 13 eateries. We lived and breathed it, we actually lived in an apartment above the restaurant for a while, along with one of our maître d’s. We also had one bedroom set aside for the office lady to use too. We were on call 24/7 and we loved every minute of it.”

Paula and Richard met at Euro, friends at first, as most things start. They soon caught the attention of the rest of the staff with their flirtations. Richard wryly jokes that “it was pretty easy pickings when you’re a successful restaurateur, Paula really got the golden ticket.” But Paula likes to suggest that she was in fact more attracted to one of her fellow waiters, who turned out to be gay. A fact that Richard knew well, after being on the receiving end of a long and lingering buttock squeeze from behind. Assuming it was his new love interest, he turned around to learn it was instead Paula’s gay male ‘friend’.

Their courtship lasted for several years, before culminating in a memorable wedding celebration held at Euro, which signified just how big a part of their lives the establishment was.

We talk about the good old days of hospitality, and how Euro led the way with a new direction that was about more than just the food. Paula describes the early days as “pure hedonism, anything goes, with no limits. It really was one of the first big international propositions. I mean, it was the first restaurant in Auckland to spend $100,000 on the bathroom fitout!” I can vouch for the fact that this became a big trend for Auckland eateries thereafter; ‘but what are the bathrooms like?’ was the first question anyone asked about a new opening. 

“The design of Euro was truly international; a beautiful space that attracted those who wanted to be seen. There were no other precincts at the time, Parnell was our only competition, and we were, in theory, the first restaurant on the water,” says Richard, “we very quickly developed our own culture, which had a sort of wild brazenness about it. For the first time there were other factors at play than just a good menu.”

Aside from the glamorous environs, the Sigleys both agree that the staff were the ultimate attraction. “They created a sense of belonging for guests, people loved the recognition that the floor staff gave them. They would always remember your favourite drink and order you one as soon as you arrived. These were waiters who chose this path as a lifelong career, and it showed. They had all worked overseas and brought an international sensibility and an incredible sense of fun,” says Paula, before Richard adds,  “Euro definitely had the best staff in the country. People used to joke that Euro was a place where waiters came to die, because they made so much money (more than $1000 a week in tips alone) they never left us. Many of them worked for us for decades.”

Paula looks back fondly on the “absolute magic” that came during a busy service. “The hum and the rhythm of it, feeling tension from the kitchen, watching the floor staff bounce and smile through it all. Knowing the customers are blithely unaware that we are getting slammed. Everything is on a knife edge —  and then pulling through it — the camaraderie and high of the staff at the end of the night are some of my best memories ever.”

It’s not hard to imagine the balancing act required to run an eatery that seated 90 inside and another 30 out on its popular waterfront terrace. Richard stresses, “we would have easily had 500 people in that place on a busy day, people standing at the bar, outside on the terrace… that’s before the council got gnarly on it. But, we had an incredibly strong trade of people that enjoyed having a very good time. It was not unusual for a table of eight to spend upwards of $5000 in one sitting, with the midweek shifts being some of the biggest, and dare I say it, sometimes with the same people coming three days in a row.”

Paula says that her favourite regulars were those with great manners and who genuinely appreciated their staff, but also those who came knowing that they were there to have fun. There was no place for the stiff upper lip here. Understanding that at some point during your dining experience revelry would ensue around you, made it even more enticing. So enticing that the likes of Robbie Williams, when he was in town, was desperate to score a table for him and his entourage. Unfortunately for Williams, the restaurant was fully booked, revelry was already well underway without the requirement of his notorious (at the time) bad boy influence.

One of Richard’s favourite moments came on an evening he was walking down the waterfront and spied the chef, Gordon Ramsay. Richard, having had a drink or two, boldly approached him and asked him where he’d been. Ramsay said “that place in there.” (Pointing to Euro) “What did you think?” To which Ramsay quipped: “Bloody world class mate.” 

After the first round of lockdowns in 2020, the Sigleys alongside their celebrated Executive Chef, Gareth Stewart, set out to identify what the Euro of 2000 could be 20 years on. “We all put so much energy, grit and determination into rebuilding and identifying the new face of Euro,” says Paula. “Gareth added so much value with his instinctive and true cuisine, he’s undoubtedly the most talented chef we’ve ever worked with. The resulting Euro 2.0 was a moment we really felt proud of.” Richard adds “We’ve always tried to lead, always been consistent in being innovative, fresh and international.” 

So how do they feel now about the Grand Old Dame’s closure?  “We’ve made peace with it. We were definitely very upset at the time, it certainly wasn’t an easy decision,” says Richard. “But once we posted the news on social media, the outpouring of support from people far and wide was very moving.” 

“It actually made Richard cry, reading the comments from patrons and staff,” says Paula. Richard laughs recalling a recent conversation he had with a tradesperson, who asked what industry he was in, when Richard replied “hospitality”, the guy was quick to reply with, “well at least you don’t own Euro”.

So what now for the dynamic duo? “We can’t wait to be able to have one last hurrah with all of our fantastic staff to bid farewell in the manner Euro deserves,” says Paula. “It’s been as much a part of their lives as it has ours, so we really want to give her a proper send off.” 

Gastronomy


Faradays opens its flagship bar, a sumptuous oasis of delicious bites and delectable pours

This inner-city eatery has been given a new look and a new lease on life by hospitality maestro David Lee

Back in the city? Keep that holiday feeling going with Auckland’s best outdoor dining restaurants

Live the suite life with the Park Hyatt Auckland’s unsurpassable Staycation promotion

While we cannot wait for the soon-to-be-announced freedoms coming our way this December, a mini-vacation is just what we need to prepare ourselves for a Christmas rush like no other.

The 5-star Park Hyatt Auckland is providing the relaxation we require with an exceptional offer on its top-tier suites. The Park Hyatt Suite Staycation promotion offers a specialty suite with harbour views at 50 percent off, for the month of December. 

Whether you’re staying in the city to be close to the action, or to get away from it all, it’s the perfect escape to book into while our free-for-all social calendar starts to fill up. Immerse yourself in the luxurious experience from arrival with a welcome amenity, complimentary breakfast, and late check-out at 2pm (subject to availability), as well as a pick-up and drop-off service.

Step into a spacious Executive Suite with a separate living area, powder room, walk-in wardrobe and a private furnished balcony. Or, on the top floor, the Rooftop Executive corner suite has a separate dining room and a wrap-around balcony, and the expansive Chairman Suite has separate living and dining areas with a full designer kitchen.

For those who only settle-in for the best, the Presidential Suite boasts all of the above, with a private outdoor garden with sweeping views and secure VIP access. Be a (very well-informed) tourist in your own city, and see most of it from the privacy of your own suite.

This offer is exclusively bookable through Park Hyatt Auckland’s reservations centre. Secure your stay by the 20th of December, and stay before the 30th of December, 2021, to live the suite life. 

To celebrate this unsurpassable Park Hyatt offer, we are giving away a free stay for one night in the Presidential Suite, with breakfast included, for two people. Winners will have six months to redeem their prize. 

This competition is now closed.

0800 44 1234

www.hyatt.com

Escape


Denizen’s Editor-in-chief shares her guide to the most beautiful locales in the Bay of Islands

An Editor’s guide on where to stay, eat and play on Aotea Great Barrier Island

A comprehensive guide to the most splendid stops in the Coromandel region

Mount Albert welcomes a new pizzeria, serving up sensational sourdough pizzas with a twist

New North Road has a new pizza joint that’s already got locals lining up outside. Founded by Guil Bezerra — a former head chef at Coco’s Cantina — along with two friends and now business partners, Frat’s Pizza is a friendly neighbourhood spot that specialises in approachable yet elevated pizzas. 

“We wanted to focus on quality and offer a bit of a twist, flavour-wise,” explains Bezerra. Focusing on simple flavours that are then lifted with chef-driven touches, the Frat’s team is offering its own, fresh take on a much-loved cuisine. 

From prawn and corn to broccoli and smoked pancetta; chicken and mushroom, and even a cacio e pepe pizza, Frat’s toppings are crowd-pleasers that are executed with finesse. Take the prawn and corn pizza, for example — after coming out of the oven, it is drizzled with a fragrant prawn emulsion, made in-house from the prawn shells, lemongrass, fennel seeds, garlic and chilli so each bite sings with flavour. The chicken and mushroom pizza sees organic chicken and locally sourced mushrooms marinated and roasted separately before going on the base, and then finished after baking with fresh thyme and a sprinkle of lemon zest. 

Bezerra is a big believer in the texture of a pizza’s base, he says, preferring a slightly stronger base rather than too flimsy in the middle. Sourdough is perfect for this, giving a crunchy yet pillowy slice that sits somewhere between the Neopolitan and New York styles.

In accordance with current government Covid-19 restrictions, Frat’s has only been open for takeaway thus far, but once it is able to have dine-in customers it can seat up to 30 inside and out the front. There will be a pared-back wine list, and casual yet welcoming service style.

Feedback from diners has been overwhelmingly positive. “We’d love to become that neighbourhood place where you go once a week, without fail,” says Bezerra. 

Frat’s emphasis on utilising exceptional ingredients and supporting local suppliers, like olive oil from up north, organic chicken and Massimo’s New Zealand-made Italian cheeses, mean that not only is the product delicious, it’s high quality.

Frat’s is short for ‘fratelli’, meaning ‘brothers’. “We are three really good mates,” says Bezerra, “but didn’t want to call it Fratelli, because we’re not Italians!”

Regardless of their relation, we think Frat’s Pizza will become your fast friend.

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 5pm — 9pm
Closed Sunday & Monday

Frat's Pizza
1089 New North Road,
Mount Albert

www.frats.co.nz

Gastronomy


Faradays opens its flagship bar, a sumptuous oasis of delicious bites and delectable pours

This inner-city eatery has been given a new look and a new lease on life by hospitality maestro David Lee

Back in the city? Keep that holiday feeling going with Auckland’s best outdoor dining restaurants