Renowned for their lively ambience and diverse menus, Japanese Izakayas are a type of bar best suited to punters looking to grab a drink (or two), settle in, and make themselves comfortable. Small-sized dishes are served alongside alcohol to ensure a highly palatable time, and this very concept has inspired a new, seasonal experience at Boxer, the 12-seat bar at the front of Parnell’s Pasture restaurant, owned and operated by award-winning chef Ed Verner.
Revered Kiwi bartender Phil Spector (formerly of London’s Scout, named one of The World’s 50 Best Bars) has worked with Chef Verner on the concept, which will offer a uniquely New Zealand twist on the Izakaya experience, for three months only. Of course, a raft of innovative cocktails will be paired with each dish, using Boxer’s rotary evaporator to extract the aroma of specific ingredients that are then redistilled under vacuum pressure to create a flavourful liquid.
The avant-garde bar is also promising a satiating a la carte menu, from traditional Izakaya dishes to more whimsical creations. A selection of yakitori will be on offer, from scampi ‘shrimp toast’ to the return of sister eatery Alpha’s cult-favourite, 100-day aged wagyu katsu sandwich (of which there will only be ten servings per day, so get in quick). There will also be exquisite large-format dishes like spring donabe cooked over the Pasture fire and whole-aged duck with delectable accompaniments (like duck-fat pretzels and creamed matcha). With everything designed to share, Chef Verner is aiming to bring people together through this creative reimagining of Izakaya, a concept close to his heart from his time spent in Japan.
Running from Friday the 28th of October, the new menu promises to be a particularly intriguing affair, even for a venue that has built its reputation on reimagining the multi-course dining experience. Rumour has it that Boxer will be extending its outdoor seating and will transition to late-night-only bookings sometime in December, so we suggest you book immediately to enjoy this seasonal revamp while you can.