Published on April 17th, 2012 | by Ultimate OmNoms


French Cafe

French Cafe is an incredibly raved restaurant in Auckland with word of mouth praise beyond the foodie circles. It’s so exclusive, I’ve never seen it featured on any daily deal websites or even the Entertainment Book!

The accolades and the praise for this restaurant far exceeds the simple name. We were into find out whether French Cafe was over-hyped or does it really live up to the word of mouth recommendations.

The best way to experience a restaurant is to simply hand it over to the chef and order the degustation menu. While the price tag may make some suck in their breath and wince like I just shoved a lemon down their throats, I highly recommend saving up and looking forward to it as a special occasion!

I love restaurants who take a spin on common food we normally whip up without thinking at home. You may have read my ravings on Meredith’s bacon and egg dish before. Here we open up with a small cup of corn soup and cheese balls.

The corn soup was beautifully creamy and frothy to the mouth. The cheese balls were lightly toasted on the outside and gentle between my fingers. Having just fought the would-be-promised beautiful summer evening, I was glad have something warm and creamy to settle in my stomach.Along with the creamy cheese balls, we were also served butter and bread – two types of butter – smoked, and rosemary… This was probably the first time we that we had smoked butter – if you’ve ever seen a child’s face light up with delight from getting candy, that’s exactly what Cecilia looked like!

Having reminded myself that even though the homemade bread can be beautifully warm and crusty, with a full degustation menu ahead- it is highly advised you don’t go overboard and have it all!

Chicken liver pate spring roll

This brought a smile to my face, the cute presentation with the pate rolled into the spring roll was a good change to the usual way pate is served with crackers.Marinated Kingfish: caviar, apple jelly, verjus, shaved fennel, creme fraiche

The kingfish sashimi was light and zesty with the lemon. The crispy salad was a perfect compliment to the beautiful silky kingfish. It was a very robust dish with only one word to describe it – Refreshing.

South Island Whitebait Sandwich: lemon mayonnaise, cos lettuce, watercress

When was the last time you had a whitebait fritter? I remember a few weeks before, I had whitebait fritter on toast… but it was all egg, barely any whitebait. When this dish came, I had huge expectations!

Encased in a light sandwich, when I bit into it, I couldn’t believe it! Filled with whitebait – the sweetness of the fish wasn’t overpowered by the egg either. Perfect!

Spanner crab risotto: pearl barley, shellfish essence, frozen mustard

 Not a confessed fan of risotto, my heart sank slightly when I saw the word risotto on the menu. I was glad to be proved wrong. Maybe it was the crab but the dish smelt delicious and the combination of textures was a delight to the tongue with the nice creamy froth.

Quail B’stilla- poached apricot, cinnamon, pistachio, chickpea, yoghurt

 The quail looked like the most complicated dish for the evening! It was like a painting on my plate. Combining the apricot, yoghurt, quail together gave me something close to an exotic haven!

Seared duck breast- sweet spices, asian greens, mandarin puree, kumara

A real Asian take on the duck breast with the spices and the bok choy. The kumara and the mandarin tangy twist gave it an oriental fusion twist and diffused the richness of the duck.

Roasted French goat cheese– caramelised onion and beetroot tart, red wine syrup

The most confusing dish of the evening! Doesn’t it look like a beautiful dessert? Mini pavlova i hear you say! Check the caption again 🙂

The sweetness of the beetroot and wine syrup gave it the dessert feel, while the onion and cheese brought us back to remind us the desserts haven’t arrived yet!

Poached Strawberries- buttermilk, raspberry, watermelon, rose

A light and refreshing palette cleanser, the watermelon and raspberry pretty much was the signal for us to cool down and prepare for an epic dessert! After some heavy dishes with cheese, duck and quail, this is exactly what we needed.

French Chocolate- spiced cherries, chocolate crumb, coconut, cherry sorbet

You can see how rich this chocolate dish is – I remember indulging in the cherry sorbet with the chocolate because it was just to0 rich to be eaten on its own! Indeed, the coconut and sorbet were the saviours of the dish so we weren’t overwhelmed by all the chocolate goodness!

The French Cafe isn’t an everyday restaurant that you’d go to with your friends and family (though..we all wish it is!). Compared with other fine dining restaurants (like Merediths), there seemed to be less ingredients used in each dish and less emphasis on the aesthetics of the food. We found ourselves tasting a lot more with our tongue than with our eyes. Oh, and if you’re worried about there not being enough food – trust me a tasting menu will fill you up just right!

Have you been to French Cafe or want to go? Drop us a comment below or on the Ultimate OmNoms FB Page!

The French Cafe

9 course degustation $145, addtional $85 for wine pairing

09 377 1911

210 Symond St, Eden Terrace


New Zealand



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6 Responses to French Cafe

  1. Adrian Barker says:

    Was there a few months ago – definitely not over rated!!

  2. Great post, awesome photos, loved the comment “like a painting on my plate”, it certainly looks that way. I did wince at the price but as you say it’s not an everyday restaurant (unless you’re lucky enough to be Trevor from Te Kauwhata). I’ll certainly pass on the post if I know of anyone looking for somewhere to taste some extra special food. Just interested in how busy it was when you dined and how far in advance you booked your table? Thanks, Rachael

  3. Not sure if my first comment posted successfully, if not – Great post, awesome photos, loved the comment “like a painting on my plate”, it certainly looks like it. I did wince at the price but as you say it’s not an everyday restaurant (unless you’re Trevor from Te Kauwhata). Will certainly pass the post on if I know of anyone looking to taste some extra special food. Just wondering how busy it was when you dined and how far in advance you made your reservation? Thanks, Rachael

    • rayshurshur says:

      Haha, yep it was posted! Reservation was made a few weeks in advance – I think for a lot of high end restaurants it depends on how many of you are going, if there’s only two of you then they generally can easily allocate seating for you. The restaurant was fully booked – we went relatively early, but as the night went on all the seats were taken. Thanks for the compliments!

  4. Bunny Eats Design says:

    Great post and lovely photos. Did you feel self conscious about taking photos of their food? I’m going to a degustation for the first time tonight. I can’t wait! I want to take photos but hope no one tells me off.

  5. Nice! where did you have your degustation? Def take photos! As long as you keep the flash off and am quite calm about it, they don’t mind :). Look forward to seeing your photos!

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