One of the most blessed thing that one can hope for in my job is to know an associate that appreciate fine food and fine wine. Tonight, I was treated to a wonderful dinner at the sought after venue on the Auckland Viaduct – Soul Bar & Bistro.
Soul Bar & Bistro occupies arguably Auckland’s most iconic terrace. There is no mistaking the elegant atmosphere created by the hanging flower baskets, waterfront backdrop and mouth-watering fare served up at Soul.
The spectacular sunsets captured by the west-facing terrace signifies the transition to an elegant late-night destination.
Executive chef Gavin Doyle delivers an award-winning menu punctuated with great seafood dishes. He is famous for his pasta, but I decides that I am in NZ, I might as well go for the lamb.
oysters freshly shucked
Te Matuku and Clevedon oysters farms lie in nutrient rich, unpolluted Te Matuku Marine Reserve at the south east corner of Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Good eats, but too bad the legendary Bluff oysters were not available for the evening.
black tiger prawns, harissa butter, citrus
Succulent tiger prawns pan grilled in butter and spiced with harissa. The harissa was not as spicy as I would like but the combination with the prawns was outstanding.
elephant hill salomé chardonnay hawke’s bay 2018
And to pair with the seafood, a crisp delicious chardonnay from Hawke’s Bay. My host heard about my preference of Cloudy Bay recommended this to me. This is a taut and complex Chardonnay of strength and elegance, packed with details of lemon, pineapple, mineral and toasty oak elements with balanced acidity. Matched perfectly with the grilled tiger prawns.
hawke’s bay lamb rack, baby kumara, hard neck garlic & honey, rosemary jus
Singaporeans knew from a young age that New Zealand is famous for sheep because of an advertisement in the 80s that claimed there were more sheep in NZ than people in Singapore. There were 346,000 less sheep in 2021 in Hawke’s Bay due to climate change. But the sheep population still stood at 2.5 million. Needless to say, the lamb from Hawke’s Bay is of a very high quality and a very good red meat.
The perfectly honey roasted lamb rack was paired with baby kumara (sweet potato) mash with a confit of hard neck garlic. The garlic we used locally for bak kut teh is soft neck garlic. The hard neck has fewer cloves per bulb and a stronger flavour. Roasted in oven until soft, it was a wonderful condiment together with the rosemary, the quintessential herb for lamb.
paritua 21.12 cabernet sauvignon predominant hawke’s bay 2015
And to pair with the lamb, a wonderfully bold and structure red from the flagship range of Paritua. This is a lesser known vineyard to Singaporeans but from this 2015 vintage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (52 per cent), Merlot (31 per cent) and Cabernet Franc (17 per cent), it was vineyard worth collecting. It is a classic, claret-style red, dark, rich and robust, with highly concentrated blackcurrant, plum, spice and nut flavours.
warm chocolate pudding, frangelico, hazelnut ice cream
A delicious chocolate pudding to round up an evening of good food and good conversations, it can go with or without the frangelico placed on the side. New Zealand is all about freedom of choices, nobody on this island force you to anything you don’t like. The quenelle of hazelnut ice cream was the best part of this dessert.
Even for a large group like ours, the service was attentive and the attention to the details for everyone’s particular preference in the food was meticulous. It is definitely well-deserved of their Cuisine Good Food Awards One Hat recognition.
As you can see, it is constantly busy at Soul, even on a cold and wet evening like this one. That’s because of the wonderful atmosphere and even more wonderful food served at Soul. Reservations are necessary in this place any evening of the week.
Soul Bar & Bistro
Lower Hobson Street, Customs Street West, Auckland 1143, New Zealand
Tel : +64 9 356 7249
Visited in Jun 2022