Metita's Toana'i Sunday Long Lunch

Embrace the season with our edit of all of the compellingly great reasons to head out this winter

Baby it sure is cold outside. But that’s no reason to stay at home and let the world forget your impeccable existence. Don’t be the Debbie Downer this winter, instead embrace the hostility of the cool air and throw caution to the wind, rain and snow and head on out to support your local hospitality operators. Keep your mind active and your belly reactive, because there’s only so many reruns of Seinfeld you can watch before it’s actually not funny anymore. Aren’t there?

Dine Out This Winter
Breakfast of champions

Celebrated for the bakery and the impeccable all-day and into-the-night Italian dining experience, one should not forget Amano for a hearty sit-down breakfast or brunch. Open seven days a week, forget the coffee on the run, and take the time to eat in and enjoy a menu that includes a plethora of well-balanced, nutritionally acceptable options like granola with blueberry, cultured custard and thyme, avocado on sourdough with a poached egg and almonds. Or throw caution to the wind and embrace the nduja, tomato, ciabatta and scrambled eggs — a riff on Amano’s popular pasta dish.

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Dine Out This Winter
Embrace La Dolce Vita
Non Solo Pizza

If you haven’t managed to squeeze in a quick sojourn to Italy this winter then your second-best option is to gather the amici or la famiglia for an afternoon of Italian hospitality at Non Solo Pizza. Kick things off with a variety of interesting Aperol Spritz variations, before indulging in a feast that includes everything you’re missing by not actually being in Italy — burrata, beef carpaccio, gamberini, all served conveniently minus the tourist factor. And if you did happen to make it to Italy, why not invite all of your friends for lunch to celebrate your return, and then regale them all with tales about how everything is just so ‘bellissimo’ in the mother country.

Dine Out This Winter
Take a bite out of the Big Apple
Federal Delicatessen at SkyCity

Sure, you could just go to New York, and head straight to Katz’s Delicatessen, but we are serious believers in the equally authentic Federal Delicatessen at SkyCity. Here you can lose yourself in a menu of all things Noo Yawk, from authentic bagels, to the infamous ‘street dog’ or pastrami sandwiches and tuna melts, polished off with bottomless drip coffee and New York cheesecake. Oh my Gwad! 

Dine Out This Winter
Turn date night into a spicy late-night
Bar Magda

Chef and co-owner of Bar Magda, Carlo Buenaventura’s inventive, new-wave Filipino flavours are enough to warm even the coldest of hearts. Conveniently open every evening from 5pm (except Tuesday), and discreetly tucked into its inviting subterranean locale, here you can ignite the night with a tasty menu of unique dishes such as spicy tuna on toast served with mayo and flying fish caviar or the eternally popular lamb ribs ‘pyanggang’ served with soft herbs and green sambal.

And when you’re done with eating, the team behind the bar have more imaginative tricks up their sleeve that are sure to keep the night alive. We suggest the ‘Dragonfruit Sour’ which sees a melding of dragon fruit with Peddlers Shanghai gin, cherry pip cordial, maraschino liqueur and lemon to create a beautifully tart, subtly sweet, and entirely delicious libation.

Dine Out This Winter
Take a gastronomic tour of Middle Eastern cuisine

While the concept of engaging in a ‘trust the chef’ dining experience should come with a warning to also ‘know the chef’ first, in the case of Gareth Stewart, his impressive 30-year career (and the fact that here at Denizen, we’ve been long-standing members of Mr Stewart’s fan club) renders this null and void. We have no doubt that Stewart is playing his finest tune yet at the helm of Advieh. Honouring the flavour-filled nuances of Middle Eastern cuisine, and enhancing them further by employing locally sourced seasonal ingredients, we wholly agree with Stewart when he recently told us; “I’m confident there is nothing like Advieh in Auckland.”

To truly experience Stewart’s expertise we recommend jumping head first into the Banquet menu and simply just ‘trust the chef’— because he’s not going to let you down. Designed to showcase a deliciously diverse insight into Stewart’s meticulously crafted dishes, the curated three-course menu, plus side dishes, act as an exploration of far-flung flavour profiles via a selection of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. Think delicately crafted chicken liver baklava filo with pistachio, pickled persimmon, and manuka honey, to smoked pumpkin hummus served with fried sujuk and pumpkin seed oil, or coastal lamb neck, pickles, sheep’s milk labneh, and green harissa. The Banquet menu is the perfect opportunity to sit back and enjoy a delicious new dining experience. Available for a minimum of two guests and priced at $95 per person, the offer is available for
dinner service. 

Dine Out This Winter
Dine under Soul’s floral festooned garden
Soul Bar & Bistro

While Gavin Doyle’s food and Liv Carter and her team’s magical service never ever disappoint, there is also another fantastic reason to head to Soul Bar & Bistro this winter. Take a seat on the terrace (don’t fret, it is heated) cast your eyes above and marvel at the constantly evolving foliage. The hanging gardens at Soul are a delightful year-round work of art, that have been putting on their glorious display for more than 14 years. In our opinion they are deserving of a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ award for this already highly acclaimed eatery. 

Dine Out This Winter
Don’t be shy of Dry July

With an increasing desire for delicious alcohol-free drinks in bars and restaurants, more and more venues are upping the ante on their drinks lists, and Commercial Bay’s Ahi is one such establishment — introducing an incredible selection of probiotic wild sodas, naturally fermented with ingredients from the
Ahi garden.

Bar Manager Egor Petrov is behind the new drinks, carefully selecting herbs, fruit, and flowers from the Ahi garden, and pairing these incredible ingredients with raw honey and water to brew gut-loving, healthy tonics. Going further than the standard kombuchas you’ll find on many drinks menus when dining out, these sodas are unique in that typical ferments are made with a ready culture (like a scoby), but Petrov relies solely on the probiotic bacteria that live on the plants in Ahi’s garden. The first of their kind in New Zealand, seasonal ingredients available in the garden will dictate the ever-changing flavours of the wild sodas. 

Dine Out This Winter
Have a Spanish love affair
MoVida’s Executive Chef, Frank Camora

Hot off the heels of Melbourne-based executive chef, Frank Camora’s recent stint back in MoVida Auckland’s kitchen, the inspiring new menu has everyone feeling grande amore all over again. Camora sure knows how to tantalise the taste buds, with his inventive Spanish fare.

Having introduced Australia to his native home’s cuisine of Spanish tapas and raciones back in Melbourne in 2002, Camora has gone on to win global acclaim. Movida’s delicious menu embraces traditional Spanish cooking techniques through the lens of modern New Zealand cuisine, and it’s a sure fire way to spice up any winter night.

Dine Out This Winter
Tackle the trolleys at Yum Cha
Grand Harbour

If there was ever a time that was suited to the Chinese tradition of yum cha, it’s winter. There’s something resolutely soul warming about a bustling dining room with steaming carts carrying goodness in tiny parcels, dodging patrons and each other in an extraordinarily chaotic dance around the restaurant. For classic yum cha, you cannot go past Grand Harbour, a stalwart of the yum cha game in Auckland, and for very good reason.

In addition to the endless supply of dumplings and steam buns doing the rounds, may we suggest ordering the spicy crab. Not for those who don’t like to get messy, nor those on a first date, but trust us, it’s worth the effort. For those looking for a more elevated, traditional experience, SkyCity’s Huami has become a firm favourite, largely due to their magnificent Peking Duck. With an entire drying room dedicated to the lengthy ageing process required to achieve perfection, the traditional duck service is, in our opinion, the best in town.  

Dine Out This Winter
Indulge in a fancy feast
Left: The Living Room at Park Hyatt. Right: SkyBar

A great tradition long enjoyed by royalty and the aristocratic elite, afternoon tea has, over the years, become a veritable culinary art form. From small pastries to savoury treats to moreish sweet indulgences, afternoon tea is the perfect way to bridge lunch and dinner (without ruining your appetite for either) and is a decidedly elegant way to celebrate a special occasion, or to simply while away a few hours in elegant fashion.

When High Tea becomes Sky Tea. Take in an afternoon of delectable treats from the highest vantage point at SkyCity’s SkyBar. Here, each service includes an impeccable curation of ten delectable bites, five savoury and five sweet, all paired with either tea, coffee or champagne. 

For those who like to keep their feet closer to the ground, head to Esther in the QT Hotel for chef Sean Connolly’s take on the traditional experience. Park Hyatt Auckland’s Afternoon Tea is an elevated affair, where deliciously savoury bites like parsnip gratin with truffle potato cream, blue cheese brûlée with wild mushroom and bacon crumb and confit duck with slaw in a rosemary bun sit alongside sweet delights like petit gateaux with yuzu curd, bergamot and white chocolate, dark chocolate Jerusalem artichoke and caramel tart and brioche doughnut with lime curd custard — this is afternoon tea service for the true gourmand. 

Dine Out This Winter
Experience a traditional Toana’i 

A longstanding tradition on Sundays in Samoan culture, some of chef Michael Meredith’s most cherished memories are centred on Sunday toana’i and seeing his aiga connect, reflect and come together. At SkyCity’s Metita, fresh and seasonal ingredients are cooked to perfection and are on offer at toana’i.

The Sunday long lunch is an invitation to join in a Pacific tradition that’s celebrated all over the world, with a menu made to be shared, and new dishes regularly introduced. Current favourites include a fried crispy skin pork hock, seared tuna and the must-try panipopo dessert, where decadent coconut buns are served with spiced rum caramel and a banana sorbet.

Dine Out This Winter
Sharing a comforting feast 
Jervois Steak House

Much like traditional steak houses that date back centuries, Jervois Steak House represents the ultimate in comfort and refinement. A cold night calls for a dinner date that includes Jervois Steak House’s well endowed ‘Chef’s Board’ which features three of their favourite cuts available on the day.

Trust us when we say that no board or, meal for that matter, is complete without a prerequisite order of sides including (and never excluding), onion rings, truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, JSH’s signature creamed spinach and duck fat roasted rosemary potatoes. Pair with a great Central Otago Pinot, and you have all the makings of an incredibly pleasant winter evening… out of the house!

Dine Out This Winter
Reinstate the ‘business time’ lunch 

Step away from the desk, pretend like it’s the 90s, invite the gatekeeper of the company credit card, and clear the afternoon for a long ‘business’ lunch at Britomart institution Ebisu. Two enticing new additions added to the weekday lunch menu present a very good reason to ditch the soggy sandwich. The Shokado Bento Boxes and Soba Noodle Sets are inspired by traditional kaiseki seasonal cuisine.

The Shokado Bento Boxes feature eight delicious dishes — with four rotating monthly to showcase fresh seasonal flavours. From Tuna sashimi, karaage chicken Nanbanzuke, beef tartare Gunkan and temari sushi, there is something for everyone, with guests able to choose from seafood, meat or vegetarian options.

The Soba Noodle Sets feature Japanese buckwheat noodles in kombu dashi broth with spring onion, daikon oroshi and nori, with one of three sides to accompany, including a pork, tempura or vegetarian set. With so many dishes to get through, you have very good reason to overindulge and to ignore the impending workload. You know you deserve it.

Dine Out This Winter
Visit the country’s finest wine regions
Somm Cellar Door

With more than 100 sought after New Zealand (and a few international) wines on offer by the glass or by the bottle, there is no reason to put the summer pursuit of vineyard tours on hold. Somm Cellar Door offers a huge selection of impeccable, hard to procure wines in tasting flights, either by region (Waiheke, Hawke’s Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago are all well represented) or by variety.

Each flight includes four 75ml glasses of each expertly considered selection, leaving you with a new appreciation and understanding of some of our great wine producers. And just as the wine list is a celebration of New Zealand’s flavours, Gavin Doyle’s menu of sharing plates and snacks showcase the best produce from around the country. Gather a group together for a celebration of New Zealand’s finest, no dodgy van transportation required. 

Dine Out This Winter
Dive into Andiamo’s new tiramisu martini
Tiramisu martini from Andiamo

The ‘Tuscan Trifle’ has been reimagined for the locals of Herne Bay, rather fittingly as a deliciously indulgent dessert cocktail. So while the rest of Herne Bay’s residents are drowning in the real thing in the stifling heat of Tuscany, warm yourself by Andiamo’s fire with a glass or two of this soul warming sweetener, acknowledging that we’re not out of the dark economic woods yet, and you’ve made very good choices by staying in New Zealand this winter.

Dine Out This Winter
Turn Cheat Day into Treat Day
Bivacco’s Sunday Feast

Do you run a restrictive eating plan during the week? Turn ‘cheat day’ into an utterly indulgent ‘treat day’ at Bivacco’s Sunday Feast. This end-of-the-week dining experience fulfils all of your dining whims in one artfully presented array of dozens of dishes. Kicking off at 11am through until 4pm, and guaranteed to suit any dining proclivity.

Fresh seafood dishes like fresh tuna tartare, juicy prawns, succulent South Island salmon and shellfish are prepared to perfection. A curated selection of meats from irresistible whole-roasted porchetta to flame-grilled rib eye steak, every flavourful bite is a testament to the expert skill at play in the kitchen. A series of locally sourced, slow-roasted vegetable dishes and crisped to perfection roast potatoes are on offer alongside an array of fresh and flavoursome seasonal salads for those seeking something a little lighter. Particular highlights include Brussels sprouts with chilli honey, chargrilled broccolini with baby carrot, parsley and raisin, and a tasty endive salad with gorgonzola, grape, pear and walnuts.

And what feast would be complete without an unforgettable finale? The dessert station at Bivacco’s Sunday Feast is a haven for anyone harbouring a sweet tooth. Immerse yourself in the exquisite line-up of satiating baked goods and indulgent delights, including a family-style tiramisu, Basque cheesecake, lemon tart, carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies, macaroons and so much more.

If that’s not enough, there is also an exclusive Bloody Mary station alongside cocktail specials, spritzes and espresso martinis. Head home knowing that you’ve successfully fulfilled your weekly wellbeing goals by rewarding yourself with the best spread in town.


This weekend, we recommend indulging in Andiamo’s indulgent, truffle-themed set menu
Martinborough Vineyard is unveiling its rare and coveted new release with an unmissable event — and we have your chance to win two tickets
Celebrate truffle season with the tastiest and most decadent truffle dishes in town