Michael Meredith’s impeccable new restaurant, Metita, has officially opened its doors, and the result is even more impressive than we imagined. Named for the Chef’s mother and inspired by his upbringing in Samoa, Metita is a comment on the richness of Polynesian culture, brought to life through Meredith’s incredibly elevated take on Pasifika cuisine — the first eatery of its kind in New Zealand.
Sitting pretty within the SkyCity precinct, Metita occupies the space formerly home to beloved Gusto at The Grand, and it’s fair to say that the newcomer is already living up to the iconic nature of its address. Here, the ethos is to offer an altogether new take on South Pacific cuisine, elevating traditional dishes with modern culinary techniques, inspiring a deeper reverence for our own heartland and connection to Meredith’s native Samoa, something he takes very seriously indeed.
The space itself acts as a vessel for storytelling, taking its inhabitants on a journey through to the sights and sounds of the South Pacific — a vision cleverly realised by the team at CTRL Space. The brief was to honour the essence of Pacific culture with clever but subtle nods that speak to the significance of three fundamental aspects of daily life: connection to nature, a strong sense of community and storytelling. The lighting is a feature, subtly resembling fishing baskets and tropical flowers, while the palette reflects the ever-changing colours of the ocean and sky. A midnight blue ombre rendering on the walls draws the eye upwards, the colours becoming deeper on the ascension, leaving diners feeling as if they’re gazing at a resplendent night sky. Elsewhere, the link to the South Pacific continues with woven elements and lush verdant greenery.
Seating is a mix of cosy booths, flanked by a series of smaller tables, the layout giving the space a communal feel. This theme is continued elsewhere, too; in the kitchen, a bustling hive of activity where chefs are stationed around a large shared workstation, while at Metita’s entrance, a space it shares with SkyCity Grand, there are a number of tall tables where guests are encouraged to gather casually, be it for a quick bite or a knock-off drink with friends, in an in-between space that feels entirely part of the action. The culmination of all of these carefully considered elements is a restaurant that feels homely but elevated, striking a beautiful balance between modernity and informality — here, you can easily picture yourself enjoying a casual, solo weeknight bite or settling in with a group of friends to enjoy a convivial Saturday evening meal.
When it comes to the food itself, as expected with Meredith’s resume in the mix, the results are exceptional. The concise, considered and experimental menu brings together a plethora of textures, flavours and techniques, calling on a unique ingredients list to deliver something truly groundbreaking. Anyone familiar with Pasifika cuisine will be delighted to discover that many traditional favourites take centre stage (pork hock, paua and taro all feature), but what truly makes these dishes stand out is Meredith’s inspired, modern reimagining of them.
Book in for the Toana’i Long Lunch and you’ll be met with a corned beef bun paired with lardo and caviar, or fried pork hock served alongside sapa sui (Samoa’s famed chop suey). Opt for the tasting menu and you’ll find the likes of paua served with ulu, paneer and burnt orange, fe’e (octopus), veal tongue with green papaya and panipopo (Samoan coconut buns) to finish. If you have the time, though, it’s the three-course sharing menu that we suggest. A gastronomical journey through the Pacific, the menu acts to highlight the very best of Metita’s offerings and is an experience that feels brand new. Here, everything is sublime, but the fire-roasted Tua Tua served with okra and harissa is a dish not to be missed.
Of course, the food is accompanied by an impressive list of cocktails, with a focus on the fragrant rums of the South Pacific, and an extensive list of New Zealand wines — much of which is on display in the deep mahogany shelving that lines the eatery. Metita’s signature clarified mai tai is a definite highlight, a treat for both the eyes and the palette, this lively libation is inspired by the vivid colours of the breathtaking To Sua Ocean Trench and as such, features a heady mix of light and dark rum, blue curacao, orgeat and lime. The clarified piña colada is another highlight, comprising five-year-old rum, pineapple rum, falernum, pineapple, toasted coconut and lime, and made to represent the bright yellow tones of the flag of Niue.
Elsewhere on the menu, the pickled pometia is the restaurant’s exceptional answer to a Gibson martini, replacing the drink’s typical pickled onion with pickled longan (an island lychee). And for anyone steering clear of the booze, we’d suggest turning your attention to the charcoal margarita.
For those looking for a casual bite, Metita’s snack menu offers exactly that, featuring an inspired take on oysters (cooked in bone marrow), crisp lamb ribs, smoked eel with spiced banana, crab and puffed taro and king salmon housed in betel leaf, topped with pickled mango and roe. And for those seeking the opposite, when a special occasion is on the horizon and you’re looking for an intimate dining space to bring people together, look no further than Metita’s exceptionally well-appointed private dining room. The space seats up to 26, but can just as easily cater to small numbers, and brings the very best of Metita’s interiors into focus to create a space well worthy of your attention.
Adding to the cultural melting pot that is the SkyCity precinct, Metita gives Polynesian cuisine the stage it so deserves, bringing something entirely new to the Auckland dining scene that is a welcome addition indeed.
Monday to Sunday, 5pm until 9:30pm
Sunday, 11:30am until 3pm
Monday to Friday, from 8am
Saturday & Sunday, from 11:30am
90 Federal Street,
+64 9 363 7030