With the arrival of loosened restrictions around dining in local restaurants coming this Friday, to say we’re excited is an understatement. The calibre of Auckland eateries is such that, while we’ve enjoyed special takeaways that wouldn’t normally be available, it’s seemed an utter travesty that we can’t enjoy a meal on-site as they’re meant to be served.
We’re also looking forward to more people having the chance to try eateries that were freshly opened this year when we were plunged back into lockdown, and one of the destinations that should be at the top of your list is Bar Magda.
Having just opened in June, Bar Magda’s location downstairs on Cross St, one over from Karangahape Road, means it’s delightfully off-the-beaten-track — which didn’t stop word from quickly spreading about this unique and delicious destination. Founded by chef Carlo Buenaventura, Craig Thompson and Matt Venables, the bar and restaurant centres on Aotearoa’s seasonal produce through a Filipino lens, and a thoroughly thoughtful drinks menu.
Inside, Bar Magda envelops visitors upon entry in a warm, red-tinged glow. Seating 52, the space is divided into three zones — there is a more intimate dining area near the open kitchen, and then a bar and dining space through a glass door that also has standing room (for when alert levels are even lower), tables and bar-leaners.
Should you sit down to eat (and, you should), you’ll be served dishes with contemporary fusion flavours to the fore. Seasonally driven yet inspired by Buenaventura’s upbringing in the Southern Philippines, the menu comprises sharing plates that can be ordered a la carte, and also set menus, from a pre-theatre selection for $55 a head, or different tiers of “Magda Feasts”.
It is divided into three main sections: “to start”, “something cold”, and “something hot”. Often there will be a sour-sweet, sour-salty or sour-spicy element that cuts beautifully through creamy, richer flavours.
Must-try new dishes include green-lipped mussel escabeche with green garlic and fennel on the “something cold” menu; charred carrots, beetroot relish and chifa sauce, charcoal beef steak with soy butter and scallions, and grilled chicken and duck liver parfait with smoked cherries, chicken skin and marbled Viennese brioche are stand-outs in the “something hot” section, as are the signature lamb ribs with soft herbs and green sambal.
Should you just be dropping in for a drink and a quick snack, the bar food menu reinterprets the main offering into more tapas-style dining.
Drinks-wise, find plenty to wet your whistle. In the cocktail realm, a selection of lesser-adopted aperitifs offers something different. These include Rinquinquin, a peach liquor, French aperitif Suze and various vermouths. Otherwise, categories of stirred, seasonal, and crowd-favourite cocktails offer something for everyone, plus digestifs. The wine list is concise, championing small or family-owned vineyards and natural, organic wine, as well as excellent more traditionally-made drops. Classic pours are on tap courtesy of Hallertau beer and there are rotating beer specials from microbreweries.
A destination to prioritise for both date night and group catch-ups; a convivial beverage or a full, sit-down meal, Bar Magda’s distinctive yet versatile offering will impress long after you’ve left the building.
For the month of December, Bar Magda is offering a 10 percent discount on any meals booked Monday to Wednesday.
To celebrate Bar Magda’s reopening and new menu, we’re giving away a two-course set menu meal for a party of six, to be enjoyed on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
This competition is now closed.