The great Sunday roast is so much more than just meat and three veg. It’s a childhood memory; the continuation of tradition; a commitment to come together as a family; an occasion that keeps us actively involved in each other’s lives.
As children, we would arrive downstairs in our Sunday best, ready to contribute in our own way. I would set the table with mum’s starched white serviettes and silverware, my dad would sharpen the knife and begin to carve the meat, while my brothers hovered around him, fighting over who would get the shank. Once the argument was settled, and what remained of the shank had found its place on the winner’s plate, the boys would start a human train of golden roasted carrots, crunchy potatoes, buttered beans, and mum’s homemade mint sauce to the table.
As our lives progress, our taste buds are continually challenged as we experiment with food and the fusion of cuisines, yet the Sunday roast is a meal that has seen little change, simply because it doesn’t need to. So when The Grove, an award-winning fine dining degustation restaurant, announced that it would be opening its doors to guests for a traditional Sunday roast, I was intrigued. Having earned a reputation off the back of dishes such as Olliff Farm Egg Yolk with Agria Potato, Jerusalem Artichoke and Chicken Juice, how would they interpret a simple Sunday roast?
I gained clarity when given the opportunity to chat with Head Chef Ryan Moore, an English expatriate who arrived in New Zealand in late 2018. Having established credibility off their intricate seasonal degustation menu, he could see a space existed to offer something that was more paired back; he could allow himself to celebrate a simple meal that was held as a fond tradition both in his homeland and here in his adopted New Zealand.
The Grove now opens its doors on Sunday from 12pm – 5pm, welcoming families and friends, both young and old, to enjoy a relaxed, less formal style of dining. An afternoon designed for grazing and long conversations, all centered around the comfort of a wintery four-course Sunday roast.
The starter menu offers a choice of Duck Liver Parfait or Mushrooms on Toast, which Jared and I shared, or the Prawn Cocktail, or Jerusalem Artichoke Soup.
Mushrooms on Toast: A medley of earthy, rich, tangy mushrooms in a truffle puree, served with a quail egg on a toasted slice of sourdough. A delicate, decadent take on a classic; a nod to the restaurant’s traditional style.
Duck Liver Parfait: Despite being one of my favourite starters, I hadn’t tried this dish served ice cold before. It was divine. Thick and creamy yet melts in your mouth. It was served on a duck fat brioche with pickled cherry (pickled in house for two months), hazelnuts and Nasturtium leaves to add a slight punch.
For the mains, a choice of Roast Beef Sirloin, Roast Pork Belly, Fish or a Roast Pumpkin Tart with Yorkshire Pudding and the option of Cauliflower Cheese as a side.
Roast Pork Belly: Rolled and served in a ring of crispy crackling, with a chunky homemade apple sauce, parsnip puree, and a thin rich gravy, which tastes just like mum’s, right from the baking tray after the fat’s been strained, with all the bits leftover. Delicious.
Roast Beef Sirloin: Sliced and served medium-rare. Beautifully tender with a swipe of horseradish and drizzled with bone marrow gravy.
Yorkshire Pudding: I was thrilled to see that the Sunday roast was served with a classic Yorkshire Pudding. This is one element of the classic meal that seems to have been left off the Kiwi interpretation. Crunchy on the outside, yet light and fluffy, served with sauteed onions.
Roasted Veg: Crunchy roasted potatoes, parboiled and tossed around before being roasted. This seems to be the trick to ‘crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside’ spuds. Snappy green beans were drizzled in parsley butter, something that my mum only just introduced me to but is now a staple in the freezer. Golden carrots, with a slight char, added a pop of colour; served with a scoop of cauliflower cheese, just like grandma made it.
Dessert offers a choice of Hot Chocolate Fondant, Notorious Sticky Toffee Pudding, or classic Fruit Trifle.
Notorious Sticky Toffee Pudding: Sticky gooey caramel toffee pudding, with vanilla bean ice cream and a toffee sauce.
Hot Chocolate Fondant: The definition of ‘melts in your mouth’. A dark, rich dessert, with a silky texture; topped with malted milk. A decadent choice for chocolate lovers.
Spiced Trifle: A thin and delicate slice of layered trifle. Sponge, a layer of pear jelly, spiced apples, cream, sherry, and sliced roasted almonds.
Chocolate Truffle’s: A little treat to end an amazing meal, tastes of orange and deep rich chocolate
We sat under the arch of the building’s gorgeous historic windows. In the cozy warmth of the restaurant, watching the rain trickle down the panes of glass on a grey, moody Sunday afternoon. With a sumptuous Pinot Noir accompanying the wholesome tastes that each new course brought, I couldn’t think of a more delightful way to round out my weekend.
The restaurant was fully booked, seating a mix of couples, families of three generations, and friends long lunching over cocktails and wine. With the following Sunday already fully booked, it’s clear that Auckland has an appetite for the Sunday Roast meets Long Lunch!
Price: Certainly at the upper end of the spectrum, but worth every penny for the experience.
Ambiance & theming: A beautiful, traditional establishment.
Opening Hours: 6pm-late Monday to Saturday, 12 – 5pm Sunday