With a new chef and a delectable new menu, Harbour Society is a restaurant you really need to try

In Auckland, we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to exquisite dining. And the outlook is only getting better — particularly with restaurants that know how to harness the beauty of the City after dark. It is at these elevated, inner-city spots that we are reminded of the ways in which Auckland’s culinary landscape really does contain experiences akin to those we might find overseas, as we gratefully partake in their unique offerings.

One such place that has been on our radar for a while (but that we didn’t try until recently) is Harbour Society. Located on the 15th floor of SO/ Hotel Auckland, high above the downtown fray, this intriguing restaurant has just been treated to a fresh reimagining, which has seen a new chef arrive to create a menu of flavoursome Eastern cuisine with a distinctly New Zealand twist (you could call it Asian-fusion but it deserves more specificity than that). As for the interiors, they are sleek, elegant and atmospheric, lent a sense of gravitas by the surrounding windows that offer exquisite views out to the glittering city below — the perfect setting in which to enjoy a meal that feels as elevated as its surroundings.

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From the left: Harbour Society wine cellar. RAW MARKET FISH, Aoraki malossol salmon caviar, jalapeño and raspberry ponzu.

Deciding to book in for dinner with a friend, we were immediately seated at the corner table from which we could take in an arresting view of Britomart, and started our night with a glass of 2020 Marc Bredif Chenin Blanc and oysters from Kaipara (a varietal that SO/ Hotel’s Director of Culinary, Marty Kindleysides explained as his absolute favourite). In fact, the restaurant offered a section of the menu entirely dedicated to oysters and toppings, allowing us to choose exactly how we wanted our morsels to be served (including traditional vinegarettes or unique, Asian-style garnishes). We opted for ours to arrive with flavoursome, Thai-style toppings (nam chim and micro coriander) and I have to say that they were some of the best oysters I had ever tasted. This immediately set the tone for the meal to follow, which ended up being a vertibale feast. And while we can admit that our eyes were certainly bigger than our stomachs, our enthusastic ordering allowed us to try a wide variety of dishes from Harbour Society’s menu, each leaving us more impressed than the last.

The plates that followed our oysters were exquisite. Burrata was given an unexpected Asian-inspired flavour twist, served with sous vide beetroot and Japanese onion dressing. The raw market fish (trevally was the catch of the day) was supremely delicate in its flavour balance, served with Aoraki malossol salmon caviar, jalapeño, cucumber, raspberry ponzu sauce, chilli and herbs. To round out the entrees, we tucked into an impossibly tender pork belly served with torched scampi, red sauce and foraged herbs — the perfect accompaniments to offset the richness of the meat.

From the left: Cloudy Bay Clams Spaghetti. Harbour Society dining area.

But it was the next dish to arrive that ended up being the unexpected favourite (one that we almost didn’t order) — Cloudy Bay Clam Spaghetti. In a stroke of culinary genius, spaghetti alle vongole was given a flavoursome edge, courtesy of a house-made XOXO sauce. It is the one dish that I would recommend to anyone without hesitation.

Despite being almost bursting at the seams by the time the lamb shoulder arrived, it only took a few tender bites for us to find a second wind. Falling off the bone, the perfectly-cooked meat was served with a rich Rendang sauce, pickles and prawn crackers, which, when paired with sides of crispy kimchi potatoes and a baby cos salad, was the ultimate comfort food (and something I would definitely order again on my next visit).

From the left: Miso glazed Ora King salmon. Seiryu.

All of this food was, of course, enjoyed with a range of wines from Harbour Society’s comprehensive list, which offers Coravin, an innovative technology that allows diners to purchase by-the-glass wines from varietals that would usually only be available as a whole bottle. It is a novel concept, but one that allowed us to embrace the suggestions of Restaurant Manager Arjun Gupta, which saw us indulging in glasses of the 2012 Gillman Vineyard Cabernet Franc/Merlot/Malbec, the perfect accompaniment to our mains.

To round out the dinner, we really did feel that dessert was necessary. After all, we had come this far. Not to be called quitters, we opted for a lighter take on dessert, where the pastry chef prepared a delicious assortment of petit fours that were wonderfully indulgent but perfectly light — ending our meal on the best note.

Food aside, my first experience at Harbour Society really did leave a very good taste in my mouth, as much for the dishes I was served as for the impeccable service and a beautiful atmosphere. Here, it seems, a focus on excellence has resulted in a restaurant that really does live up to its elevated nature, and one that I, for one, am looking forward to experiencing again soon.

Harbour Society

SO/ Auckland, 15th Floor
67 Customs Street East, Auckland



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