If the onset of warmer weather has you feeling claustrophobic with a desperate, animal urge to be lying outside with a margarita in hand, you are not alone! So as the sunshine rolls in and we start to spend more and more time away from our offices and living rooms, it makes sense that we would want the same outdoor time from our dining experiences. Let’s face it, there’s nothing better than sitting al fresco at your favourite haunt with good friends, better wine and a generous helping of sunshine. We’re lucky in the City of Sails to be surrounded by incredible waterfront restaurants, glorious parkside cafes and even inner-city gems that serve up a meal worthy of the weather.
So if you’re tossing up venues for your next late lunch session, evening drinks or late dinner in the last of those summer sun rays, then my money’s on the fact you’re looking for a restaurant with an outdoor space. If you’re sick of the usual suspects and are ready to venture out, tick a few of these beautiful outdoor venues off your summer soiree list!
That’s right, just when you thought Auckland’s dining scene couldn’t get any better, they added another Azabu. This hideaway on Ponsonby Road has long been a favourite of mine for intimate dinners and classy lunches with clients but its biggest drawback? It’s dark and indoorsy, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to summertime vibes. But never fear, the new Azabu has taken over the old Mission Bay Pavillion which means it’s perfectly situated for evenings sitting in the seabreeze as the last of the day’s sun warms you (i’m dreaming of it already.) The Japanese – Peruvian menu is to die for. Try the Seared Beef Tostada, Grilled Octopus and Black Tiger Prawn Dumplings to start and swiftly follow them with everything else on the entire menu because there isn’t a single dish that will let you down.
If you’re all long-lunched out, or perhaps are looking for a more low-key affair but still aren’t ready to give up on the sunshine and head indoors, then look no further than Meadow. A modern bistro and bar in the heart of Remuera, Meadow is a hot spot for weekend brunchers but don’t be fooled, they also have an epic evening menu that is best enjoyed outside in the courtyard underneath the trees. I can’t go past the crispy calamari with a side of garlic and parmesan pulled bread to kick off my evening, before I tuck into the Seafood Marinara Linguine with Gremolata. Then all you need to do is lie back, unbutton your pants (ever-so discreetly) and tuck into your Pornstar Martini as you laugh the night away with good company in an even better outdoor dining venue (you’re welcome.)
277 Westfield Rooftop
In an incredibly accurate imitation of the best malls across the globe, Westfield Newmarket has really revamped its style with a new rooftop dining precinct to rival Bondi. The swanky water feature, cobblestone paving and array of high-class eateries will have you feeling a million miles away from the concept of a ‘mall foodcourt.’ And the best part about the place is that there is so much choice! (arguably more choice than an indecisive eater like me is comfortable with…) You can start your evening off with drinks at Sardine, then make your way down to Baha Betty for some Mexican style snacks, before you idle over to INCA to fill up on ceviche before wrapping the night up with some decadent dessert from Island Gelato Company. Overlooking Newmarket, above the sound of the busy streets and with the water feature serving as the perfect decoration, you’ll be lapping up the very best outdoor dining experience that Auckland has to offer.
Inspired by the back-street tapas bars of Spain, Tasca has a to-die-for courtyard with European charm that will have you escaping the hustle and bustle of Dominion Road for the evening. Though none of us will be sitting by the seaside in Spain this year, we can still be whisked away for a beautiful evening with an international feel. Tasca has a huge personality, showcased in its spicy, flavourful food as well as its vibrant patio in the great outdoors. For a huge flavour hit, try the Tapas menu! You can’t go wrong with the Bombas; crunchy potato bombs with spiced pork and chorizo filling, served with paprika and aioli. Or branch out and try the pan-fried Halloumi with beetroot and red pepper relish, tzatziki and grilled bread. Finally, clink your luscious red wine glasses together over a traditional Paella with morsels of fish, mussels, prawns, chorizo sausage and chicken served with lemon and aioli. Salud!