Whether you’re 100% plant-based, sometimes meat-free or just a run of the mill omnivore — after all, flexitarianism is in — it doesn’t matter because these vegetarian dishes are universally tasty. The kind of fare that doesn’t beg the question, ‘err, where’s the meat?’, henceforth we present Auckland’s top veggie eats.
1. Cauliflower Curry from Euro
The fact that curry is one of Exec Chef Gareth Stewart’s favourite things to eat may well have spawned this delish spicy variety. Roasted cauliflower and yellow lentil dal is balanced with cauliflower yoghurt. You can find this sensational dish on Euro’s dedicated vegetarian menu.
2. Steamed Bun with Crispy Eggplant from The Blue Breeze Inn
While the pork buns might be infamous and delicious, trust us when we tell you to give the eggplant iteration a go. Hitting all the right notes, the ‘steak’ is doused in black vinegar, chilli and coriander for a very yummy effect.
3. Eggplant Parmigiana from Baduzzi
Best enjoyed with a glass of red and your napkin tucked into your shirt, Baduzzi’s classic parmigiana — a beloved recipe derived from owner Michael Dearth’s mother — is not the only meat-free delight this Italian restaurant offers. With a fifth of the menu being vegetarian, there are plenty more options that include meat-free meatballs too.
4. Beetroot starter from Cassia
Naturally, Indian cuisine is the perfect genre for lending itself to vegetable driven dishes. Lucky for diners at Cassia, those choosing to forego the meat can choose from three mains: smoked paneer and parsnip with Chettinad sauce, a seasonal vegetable curry and stir-fried potato with chickpeas and kadhai spices. However, it’s the beetroot starter with black garlic, spiced crème fraîche and chilli coriander relish that has captivated our attention.
5. Tomato Tostada from Azabu
Aromatic heirloom tomatoes perched gently atop a very crisp tostada with jalapeño mayo, mint, basil, crushed almonds and coriander? This remains one of our favourite items of the lot — so much so, we’re tempted to order it in multiples.
6. ‘Out of the Dark’ Mushroom Gnocchi from Ostro
One of the more indulgent dishes on this list, Ostro does a superb job with its rich gnocchi iteration that features ‘Out of the Dark’ mushrooms, truffle cream, pickled onion and potato crisps. Newly refined as part of the ‘classics’ menu, we’ll take this bad boy time and time again.
7. Citrus Salad from Soul
One of Exec Chef Gavin Doyle’s favourite meat-free dishes right now is the citrus salad. Bursting with flavour and texture with the inclusion of fennel, pear, celery and crispy rice (which gives a great crunch), it’s all cut fresh to order and exhibits the best of the season’s citrus offering.
8. ‘We Love Vegetarian’ degustation from The Grove
Reserved for those who are wanting to go all out, The Grove specialises in meat-free degustations. Offering a progressive series of five or nine plates, the mind-bogglingly varied and experimental fare will leave you inspired.