Good news for Auckland’s dining cognoscenti. The iconic O’Connell Street Bistro has reopened at last after being partially destroyed by a kitchen fire in January.
But for owners Chris Upton and Amanda Mason, head chef Mark Southon and their team, the seven-month hiatus has been an opportunity to give the very popular inner city bistro a major overhaul.
Upton says diners will now enjoy a refreshed space that still retains an intimate bistro feel. “The old O’Connell Street Bistro remains in many ways but we have also taken the opportunity to rethink some of the fundamental aspects of the business, from the ambience to the tableware, logo and the menu itself,” he says. “Mark has developed an exciting new menu that showcases seasonal ingredients and reflects our unwavering passion for presenting modern European cuisine in innovative ways.
“In addition to our new menu, regulars will also be pleased to find some of the old favourites they know and love, remain.”
While retaining a selection of what Upton calls “bistro classics” – the celebrated crispy squid; the rabbit pappardelle; and the restaurant’s renowned crème brûlée – Southon’s new menu incorporates a list of standout dishes. “Some of my personal favourites include the lamb rump and truffle glazed sweetbreads and a stunning “toffee apple” dessert with Granny Smith sorbet, Royal Gala butterscotch and elderflower jelly,” Upton says.
As well as the new flavours, patrons will also notice differences in the restaurant itself. “The new décor conveys a more luxurious experience for diners while there are some surviving chattels from before the fire that we would never turn our back on – they are an important part of the bistro’s history,” Upton says.
“We are delighted to be able to finally share the results of months of hard work.”
While the management and staff of O’Connell Street Bistro kept themselves busy with a range of charity and commercial projects during the break, all are keen to start afresh. “This restaurant has been nearly two decades in the making,” Upton says, “and no ill-timed fire is going to hold us back.
“We are very much looking forward to building on our traditions in new and exciting ways.”