Known as the god father and pioneer of Auckland hospitality, Tony Astle is a renowned chef that has recently received the Cuisine Lifetime Achievement Award for his amazing work in Antoine’s for the past 40 years. Antoine’s offer two menus concurrently – the Nostalgia Menu where you can find timeless favourites that has proven to be popular in the past and the ever-changing Table Menu where Tony Astle continues to display his innovation.My partner and I celebrated my birthday at Antoine’s a few weeks back and I was very excited to finally give this place a try! We arrived on a gloomy day and were shown into the dining room after spending a few minutes trying to locate the front door. We were offered complimentary pretzel bread while we looked through the menu.

For the entree, I had the steak tartare from the Nostalgia Menu and that was served with beef carpaccio with a light mustard dressing. Talk about meat overload! The tartare, topped with a quail egg yolk and micro herbs – was slightly disappointing. It was moist and well seasoned but it did not have enough crunch and could do with more gherkins and red onion and I would have preferred some toasted bread to counter the richness of this dish. However, the mustard dressing was divine with the thin slices of beef and Parmesan shaving, making it an overall decent dish. My partner ordered from their daily special and opted for a fresh steamed white asparagus entree with a beautifully poached egg, bacon and green beans. Asparagus are currently in season so they were absolutely amazing. It was perfectly cooked, crunchy and slightly sweet. The combination of the runny egg yolk with the crispy bacon and asparagus (which is very breakfast-like) was flawless.

The quality continued to the mains. My partner’s steak – cooked medium rare – was perfect. The meat was tender and moist and topped with a creamy bearnaise sauce. This was accompanied with a poached egg and crispy potatoes. A very hearty dish and he enjoyed it immensely. My egg coated fish fillet (apologies, but I can’t remember the type of fish) sat on top of a creamy brandade with a side of crispy tempura prawns. This was dressed with a citrus avocado oil vinaigrette. The thin egg coating added a crispy outer texture while maintaining the moisture of the fish fillet and the vinaigrette when combined with the freshly squeezed lemon juice was flavoursome and light.

We did not expect for the portions to be so generous, so we ended up splitting a dessert rather than order one each! We tried their meringue-topped prune compote served with a side of citrus ice cream and freshly whipped cream. The presentation in a small brass pot is adorable and the chef was kind enough to scribble ‘Happy Birthday’ on the plate! I found the prune compote to be excessively sweet, so I ended up just eating the prunes with the fluffy meringue and avoided the sweet syrup.

The meal was enjoyable and the overall dining experience was incredible. The atmosphere is upmarket, the staff was attentive and the food was of good quality. But, I think my expectations were too high, so I was slightly disappointed as I expected all the dishes to be flawless. The meal is also rather expensive (around $38 for entree and $48 for main) but the portions are generous and we came out with a very full tummy. I would love to come back and try some of his more famous dishes such as the tripe starter and the braised ox tail main and hopefully, I would be blown away with something different.

Date: Saturday 6th October, 2012 | Location: 333 Parnell Road, Parnell | Food: Contemporary Fine Dining


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