A lovely surprise turned up in the mail the other week – a couple of restaurant vouchers courtesy of Zomato.
Hubby is back from his work trip now, and we decided that we were long overdue for a date night and this seemed like a perfect excuse to head out. So we lined up a babysitter and booked ourselves a table for Saturday night.
I then caught a head cold. As of late, I seem to get sick every time we plan to do something special. On our recent trip to Queenstown, I also caught a cold just before we left. And this cold (which is still hanging on for dear life), not only nearly stopped us having our first date night since bubs came along, but it prevented me from going to a friend’s farewell shindig.
I’m really getting owned by the common cold this year.
Well, anyway, Saturday night rolled around and I was feeling better so we persevered and drove out to Takapuna to enjoy a nice dinner at The Commons.
A while ago, we’d been to Dallows at Sale St and enjoyed the degustation menu there, and so we were keen to try the food at The Commons as we knew it was the same head chef, Nick Honeyman (although he has now moved on to be the executive chef at Sofitel).
We dined upstairs at the bistro, which has a bit of an industrial-chic-vibe going on. (You’ll have to excuse the poor quality of the photos – the lighting is very dim and I didn’t want to bother other people by turning the flash on.) We decided to try the chef’s tasting menu (six courses), which at $75 per person, is relatively cheap for a degustation here in Auckland.
To start with, they gave us some freshly baked sour dough with parsnip butter.
The parsnip butter was interesting! Slightly sweet and nicely whipped.
Then for the first course in the tasting menu, we had kingfish with lime pith, young coconut and oats.
This was a slightly unusual combination of flavours, but lovely and fresh. It was subtle in taste but had some great contrast in textures on the plate. We enjoyed this one a lot.
The next course was eye fillet tartare with pickles, burnt breadcrumbs and popcorn.
This dish was a revelation to me. I’ve only had steak tartare once before and wasn’t a big fan, but this one was delicious! I would happily eat this again and again. This was definitely our favourite dish of the night.
After this was the pork with celeriac, lemon and apple.
The pork jowl had been cooked for 24 hours. It was rich – smokey, tasty and fatty – and so needed the tartness of its accompaniments. We also liked this one, but decided it was definitely something to enjoy in a small portion.
The next dish was sirloin, smoked onion and pickled shitake.
The venison was cooked well and was also accompanied by beetroot puree and chocolate sauce. It was a very earthy and smokey dish. Unfortunately I didn’t like it that much and I did wonder about having two such rich dishes following each other on the menu – but this is just down to my personal preference as it was a well executed dish.
Following this was the “pre dessert”.
I’m not sure why it’s called a pre dessert. It is a dessert, which is then followed by another dessert (not that I’m complaining – two desserts is just fine with me). This one was a combination of ginger and rhubarb flavours, such as a gingernut cake, creme brulee, rhubarb gel etc. The flavours were light and fresh and we quite liked this one. Again, some interesting textures on the plate.
The menu finished with a chocolate, honeycomb and Puhoi bush honey dessert.
I was not a fan of this one at all. Everything was very sweet, cloyingly so – I felt like there was a bit too much honeycomb on the plate. Again, this is probably down to personal taste. I was never a big fan of Crunchie bars!
Hubby had the wine matches with his meal and liked them very much, except for the Spanish dessert wine, which he found a bit too sweet for his own tastes.
Overall, we enjoyed the food and think that this would be a good place to go if you want to try a degustation which is well executed and relatively affordable. We did find that we enjoyed the first half of the menu a lot more than the second half though, and were a bit disappointed with the last dish.
The service was very friendly, although two of the servers couldn’t seem to agree on whether we were eating venison or beef at one point. We were also billed for our neighbouring table’s glasses of wine, but that was quickly rectified.
The bistro is separate from the main part so it is a little quieter, but it’s only open for dinners.
Address: 21 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna, Auckland.
Phone: (09) 929 2791
Open: 11.30am till late 7 days (Bistro: Tuesday – Sunday, 5:30pm till late)