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Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Jesse Mulligan Auckland Restaurant Recommendations: Downtown dining for a large group; Where can you find great barbecue?

By Vaseline May26,2024
Jesse Mulligan Auckland Restaurant Recommendations: Downtown dining for a large group;  Where can you find great barbecue?

In this biweekly series Viva’s regular editor, who dines out, shares his sage advice on where and what to eat. He ate a lot of bad meals, so there’s no need for that.

Do you have restaurant-related questions or riddles while dining out? Jesse Mulligan is here to help.

Email Jesse at [email protected]

Here are some questions he’s been asked lately and what he answered.

The salmon salad on the menu at Mekong Baby.  Photo / Babiche Martens
The salmon salad on the menu at Mekong Baby. Photo / Babiche Martens

A group of us are going out to celebrate the retirement of one of our colleagues. We are looking for a place close to the city that is suitable for a group of 10-12 people. The retiree has asked for ‘Asian fusion’ but understands that this may not be feasible! It’s a diverse group, so please don’t be too busy.

I’m sending you to Mekong Baby, a Ponsonby restaurant that has been consistently serving delicious food for over 10 years. It may never make the Auckland Top 50, but maybe we need a separate top 50 list for restaurants that aren’t exciting but are just right for a particular scenario.

A dozen people looking for guaranteed good food is one such scenario, and you’ll love it here, in a separate room at the back of a bustling restaurant. There are set menus in different price ranges, but the least expensive “Crossroads to Indochine” at $70 offers huge amounts of food with a good variety of meats, including some of the best sticky chicken wings I’ve encountered in Auckland. The staff are lovely and work very hard to keep everyone happy, although occasionally you may need to go to the bar if you feel like you are waiting too long for a drinks order.

Jesse, a random one for you! We have an industry meeting in Auckland next March and I’m looking for locations. Do you have any knowledge of hotel catering and can you recommend the food somewhere in particular?

Yes, I have some experience in this area, as I often attend gatherings like yours as an MC, where I put on a tuxedo and eat a rubber chicken dinner before standing up and telling jokes to a thousand people. strangers (a very normal way to earn a living).

Although the food is hit and miss, I’ve had two great experiences in the past six months: one in the Hilton’s great room, where I saw ex-Clooney head Des Harris overseeing an impressive crew of chefs, and one in the Pullman where I spoke to an audience that was about 50 percent Indian-New Zealanders.

It was the first gala dinner I’ve been to where dinner was served buffet style and it really worked – but most impressive was the Indian vegetarian buffet, with six different main courses of flatbreads, rice and salads. Regular readers will know that I am obsessed with Indian food and it was all I could do not to go back for a third and fourth, but look, they don’t pay me the big bucks to stagger on stage after dinner with spilled butter in my tuxedo jacket, so with great reluctance I finally put down my cutlery.

Anyway, where were we? I guess the point is that if they can come up with something of that quality for a specific audience, they must be doing a good job with your lot. Besides, at any decent location they’ll let you try the food before you commit to it – no guarantee that they’ll be able to replicate the quality if they have to prepare the dish for hundreds of you at the same time, but at least it gives you an idea of ​​what you’re getting can expect.

Pork ribs, pastrami, kale and tater tots at Juke Joint, Brothers Brewery, Mt Eden.  Photo / Michael Craig
Pork ribs, pastrami, kale and tater tots at Juke Joint, Brothers Brewery, Mt Eden. Photo / Michael Craig

Do you have a lot of experience with slow barbecuing in Auckland? My brother is a huge meathead and I’d like to take him for brisket when he visits next week.

I think you’ll both love Brothers Brewery, especially their Mount Eden location where you can choose from a range of draft beers and find a spot on the sofa to peruse their BBQ menu. I loved the plain brisket burger and fries (the burger has a real kick to it, which may be what McClure’s pickles are, but I couldn’t help but think there was something more to it), but if you’re hungry, might not be quite big enough – perhaps opt for the small meat plate, which also allows you to sample the pork, lamb and chicken.

On this subject, I deeply regret to report the temporary closure of Smokin Cole. The founder is taking a break from what he says has been a “nightmare industry” of late. We wish him all the best and hope he will be back with the smoker soon.

Eating Out, Editor Jesse Mulligan.  Photo / Babiche Martens
Eating Out, Editor Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Babiche Martens

Previously recommended by Jesse Mulligan

What you asked and what he shared.

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