Stuff.co.nz listed us as one of the best wine bars in Auckland!
For the third year running, Stafford Road Wine Bar has been named as one of four finalists for the Res Diary Outstanding Local award.
We've been listed in Urban List's top Winter Date Ideas.
We've been listed among the Top 10 Drink Experiences in Auckland by international industry magazine Gourmet Wine Traveller. The prestigious list includes Metro Restaurant of the Year Masu, Apero, Cazador & The Golden Dawn.
To see the full article, pick up a copy of the magazine at your nearest news agent or download their digital edition here.
We've topped Viva Magazine's list of Auckland's cosiest bars for winter alongside the likes of the award winning Mea Culpa & Mo's, Britomart's Xuxu, and Grey Lynn's Freida Margolis.
My wife and I went yesterday afternoon for a drink and something to eat. Arrived just after 3, which is opening time on a Sunday, and there were four small groups in already. We started with a glass of Bollinger each while we waited for the menu to be printed. The mushrooms were delicious. Never seen mushroom donuts before, but along with the other sautéed mushrooms and garlic meringue tasted beautiful. My pork buns were very tasty indeed. Probably we should have finished there, but were seduced by the main lamb dish and agria potatoes. The lamb came in two types, pulled, and lamb belly. Even more delicious than pork belly! Who knew!
— Stephen D, Trip Advisor
“Not what I was expecting from an unassuming street corner in Suburban Northcote. It had everything you needed for an enjoyable experience and nothing you didn’t. The selection of wines were quality (though you’d expect this from a wine bar) and the amount of thought that had gone into every element on each dish was apparent. Again: everything you needed but nothing you didn’t. Would definitely recommend this place for drinks or dinner.”
— Jasmine Mullen, Zomato
For the second year running, Stafford Road Wine Bar has been named a finalist for the 'Waterfront Auckland Outstanding Local' Award.
A record number of hospitality industry people have voted to choose the 2015 Lewisham Awards finalists announced this week.
With more than 10,000 votes counted, the finalists represent the leading lights of the Auckland restaurant scene as selected by their peers.
Lewisham Foundation chairman Chris Upton says an increase in voting by more than a third is testament to the respect the industry has for the awards.
“The Lewisham Awards recognise every aspect that contributes to the excellence of Auckland’s vibrant and diverse food scene whether it be a new chef, barista, supplier or wine list.
“The fact that we have had such an amazing response in the voting reflects the strength of hospitality right now. There is certainly a very positive vibe in the industry and long may it continue.
Finalist, best short drinks list
Another Northcote Pt secret is out — for years, the locals have been used to being squeezed out of The Engine Room by enthusiastic diners from over the bridge, and now this place is getting famous too. It looks like a bar when you arrive, but the young and excellently informed waitstaff do a first-rate job of making you realise that, really, you’re at a very good restaurant. That said, the wine list is excellent — not long, but full of good stuff you won’t see elsewhere by the glass, or by the carafe if you choose. The kitchen works hard to elevate the food beyond expectations, helped along by a first-rate chef and a garden out back that he curates. There are little bar/bistros like this scattered right around the Auckland suburbs, but very few understand how to be really good. Stafford Rd leads the way.
The Auckland hospitality industry has spoken, the votes are in and the finalists for the 2014 Lewisham Awards have been announced.
Stafford Road Wine Bar has been named as one of four finalists for the 'Waterfront Auckland Outstanding Local' Award.
The “Local” is the hub of the community and a place where family and friends meet regularly and feel welcome, while still being fed and watered to a high standard. The staff know your name, the DJ plays your favourite hits and the establishment fits the ethos of the community where it sits.
By Nici Wickes.
It was so unexpected. Sure, I'd noticed the Stafford Road Wine Bar perched on a corner in Northcote Pt for all the years it's been open - more than four - and duly noted the awards merited to the adjacent specialist wine store, Point Wines, but I'd never actually crossed the threshold of either.
Then I heard the news that the owners, Simon and Jacquie Mackenzie, had appointed a new chef who hailed from Meredith's and Sidart and that things had notched up a level in the food department.
By adding "solo plates" to the list of shared ones, the charming neighbourhood wine bar was now offering more than a mere bar with nibbles, a place for the locals to frequent, a quick stopgap for cinema-goers . . . I just never guessed at how much more.
The menu reads like a novel written by a promising new author - rules are broken, caution is thrown to the wind, freshness prevails.
The list of small plates boasts grilled cucumbers, ham hock brioche toasties, boneless chicken wings and beef crackling while the solo plates, complete meals if you will, promise wild venison with goat's curd, scampi with duck prosciutto and shiitake mushrooms, black pudding and lemon sabayon and other unpredictable combinations.
It could all have just as easily not worked out I suspect but, truth be told, the unlikely pairings don't stand a chance of doing anything other than getting on famously in the hands of chef Ed Verner. The flair he shows is phenomenal.
First came the board with four cute little brioche (house-made of course) sandwiches, tattooed by the char-grill, and stuffed full of dark pink smoky ham hock, melted cheese and a piquant green tomato relish.
They weren't good, they were perfect - in concept, form and flavour. Grilled cucumbers followed; we smothered them in the smoky eggplant puree and with every bite we marvelled at the juiciness of warmed cucumber.
Then came one of the prettiest dishes I've eaten in a while - small spheres of tangy goat's cheese and walnuts, crumbed and fried golden, then served on a sweet pear puree (yes, arguably Verner is overly attached to purees but with each one so different and all delicious we weren't minding a bit) and glistening honey base, topped with crisp wafer-thin discs of pear and scattered with blue-purple borage flowers.
It was hard to pick a favourite from the shared plates but perhaps the last in the line-up was it for me: crispy boned-out chicken wings, dusted with black garlic and served with a dollop of exceptional sour cream (again, made in-house) and curls of white frilly beef crackling for added texture and scrumptiousness.
Scampi, in the first of our main dishes, literally melted in our mouths, and serving it with warm duck prosciutto, shiitake mushrooms and asparagus was a clever collision of flavours but it was even more magically brought alive with the addition of toasted, puffed black rice.
An artichoke puree, with its hint of aniseed, underpinned a plate of summer vegetables that had been meticulously prepared while still managing not to appear fussy. The star of this plate was the jersey bennies, lovingly peeled to get rid of their slightly acidic skins so that nothing interrupted their creamy flavour.
On another plate, wild venison cosies up with dark leaves of seasonal greens in a puddle of sweet, rich onion stock, and stark white goat's curd serves its purpose of sharpening it up.
When it came time for dessert there was only the one option left and there only needed to be; rose-scented sorbet, watermelon granita, strawberries dehydrated to rich, chewy fruit leathers, a cloud of whipped marshmallow and an incredible milk wafer that tasted like milk bottle lollies. It was like eating the best dream you've ever had.
I hadn't wanted a late night but the time had flown in a merry-go-round of fresh, colourful plates of original food that had utterly captured our imagination.
The effort shows in every small detail of the food at Stafford Road Wine Bar - from the lightness of the sour cream and brioche, to the vegetables sourced from the garden out back, to the Jersey bennies, which are peeled because it makes a difference to their flavour, to the asparagus which isn't because it doesn't.
There's a reason why, after four-and-a-half years of writing this weekly column, I'm still honoured and thrilled to be doing so - it's discovering, on quiet neighbourhood corners, brilliant places like this that are worth shouting about.
By Jesse Mulligan.
Neighbourhoods are sexy, and the more decent ones Auckland has, the better. The Britomarts and Federal streets of this world have their place, sure, but you can’t beat a tucked-away suburb — a secret the city keeps from tourists and unadventurous locals.
Northcote Point is the best sort of neighbourhood — one with a boutique cinema, city views and The Engine Room, one of the few restaurants in Auckland where you really do need to book in advance. I’ve got a mate who lives on the Point, and I love hearing about his daily march to the ferry — hitting the pavement a few metres ahead of one neighbour, a few metres behind another, walking in precise convoy every morning without ever quite acknowledging each other or overtaking.
For aquaphobic commuters, it’s an easy drive over the bridge, that handy Stafford Rd exit so much more than just a service lane for highway patrol cars and AA callouts. You can drive from the CBD to Northcote Tavern, one of the best garden bars in Auckland, in just eight minutes.
And there’s Stafford Rd Wine Bar, serving spectacular and unexpected wines by the glass: verdelho, catarratto, an Aussie shiraz that tastes like a Kiwi syrah and vice versa. Even better, the waitstaff know the drinks list well enough to make recommendations, argue for their favourites and pour samples for comparison — I know plenty of high-end restaurants where that doesn’t happen.
They’re almost faultless on the floor, actually — fast, smart and justifiably proud of the menu. The boys look like movie stars, which must be even more magnetic for the local mums than the $15 champagne deal on Wednesdays. You don’t have to work hard to be charming when your doppelgänger is Andrew Garfield, but it takes some skill to win over the husbands too.
They do a good job of guiding you through an excellent, beautiful and quite ambitious menu from Ed Verner (ex-Meredith’s and Sidart), featuring plenty of fresh produce — some of it from a garden out back — plus cured meats, soft cheeses and enough cheffy tricks to make it feel like a real dinner out. The lineup details change every week, but the duck prosciutto and seafood is unmissable, whatever its current configuration.
He also does chips, enough of which were being ordered that I wonder why he doesn’t give them a tilt — like The Commons’ chickpea fries or Liquid Molten’s crinkle cuts with truffle aioli. Kale with black tahini and grilled cucumbers with puréed eggplant are all very well, but for a quick munch with a pint of pale ale, you can see why people might gravitate towards something a little more low brow.
It’s a smallish space, a corner bar with some outdoor tables. The walls are a stylish combo of exposed brick and fancy- pants wallpaper, although as I sat inside in full afternoon sun I thought some decent shutters might help complete the transformation from local watering hole to secluded eatery.
They might put a little more effort into greeting new arrivals too — a maître d’ post would be too much, probably, but one of the floor staff should at least intercept you and let you know if you should be heading for a table or the bar, that sort of thing. It’s a small point, but those few seconds of feeling like a bell-end when you walk in are enough to scare a New Zealander back to Cobb & Co.
A few little changes like that would give this wine bar the international appeal you need to get die-hard isthmus dwellers over the bridge. But I’d still come here any night of the week — small and excellent, Stafford Rd should be the envy of every other neighbourhood in Auckland.