review - Harbourside Seafood Bar & Grill

Down the bottom of Queen Street with a view of the inner harbour, this restaurant has a balcony filled with suits on any given weekday. I went for a quick lunch with my Dad and a friend to check out how the corporate people eat. The entrance and stairwell is like an original London tube station, green and cream ceramic tiles and the smell of disinfectant. On arrival at the front door of the restaurant we had to walk through a beautifully set, but completely empty dining room to reach the covered suntrap of a balcony that was crammed with business “lunchers” and about 20 wait staff.

The menu has a seafood theme. It ranges across the cuisines of Italy, France, Morocco, Japan and New Zealand. There are offers of the token red meat, a lamb entree and a fillet steak main. Something on there for everyone, but this place is about the sea, so this is what we ordered: We shared an assortment of fresh breads. I ordered Squid with olives, caper berries, roast pepper salad and rocket pesto. My friend had a scallop salad with croutons and taramasalata. Dad had John Dory with spinach and pumpkin seed risotto, salsa verde and a saffron beurre blanc.

The breads were so fresh and lovely with lots of soft butter that we had polished them off before our meals arrived. The pan-fried squid had only one thing going for it, very tasty rocket pesto. But the squid itself was so oily it was unbearable. My guess is that it had been cooked in a pan that had not been pre-heated. When this happens instead of hitting hot fat in a pan and searing, whatever is being cooked sits in cold fat and as the pan warms it sucks up the oil like a filthy dishrag. As the pepper salad had an oily dressing this dish was pretty unpleasant to eat. The scallop salad was delicious; I particularly liked the crunch of the croutons and the background flavour of taramasalata. A very tasty dish it was fresh, well cooked and seasonal. Unfortunately as it is seasonal it is no longer on the menu as we move into winter. Hopefully it will be bought back next summer. The John Dory was equally good and the risotto looked beautiful, a stunning green really lifting the presentation of this dish. Sadly it couldn't match the colour with flavour; it really had no taste and absorbed the subtle sauce so its delicacy was almost missed.

We did have a chocolate brownie w roasted stone fruit to share with our coffees, this was stunning, although it is no longer on the menu it does hint of the use of good chocolate and a pastry chef who can handle the simple stuff.

A quick note on service, we had about 5 different waiters, food was put in front of the wrong people, one waiter reached across the table thrusting their arm in my face, a waitress arrived to take orders that had already been taken, the male maitre d' made jokes he hadn't built a relationship to support and we had to go to the counter to pay the bill. That's what it was like - not cool.

We drank two bottles of antipodes water and the bill came to $129.40
1st Floor
The Ferry Building
99 Queen Street
Auckland City

09 307 0486

http://www.harboursiderestaurant.co.nz/index.htm

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