North Shore ‘m’eatery reveals its secrets
Eating out is one of my happy joys. Other people cooking, for a start, is always a great place to begin, but I learn so much about food by talking to, and tasting the food of, some of the immensely talented food creators we have in New Zealand.
As many of you will know, I live on Auckland’s North Shore (although there are plenty who would argue it’s not ‘Auckland’s’ at all!) and I’m always trying to persuade those who feel they need a passport to cross the bridge to open their minds and come to see what we have on offer in this gorgeous part of the city. Sure, a few years ago, the Shore was a culinary wasteland; however, anyone who still believes this probably hasn’t quite got their heads around the fact that Devonport was very recently more a naval base than a millionaire’s paradise, Ponsonby was shady as it gets, and to cross the Harbour Bridge won’t actually hurt you.
Anyway, I’ve been watching the slow progression of the building that was to become 21 Days Bar & Brasserie on Clyde Street in Browns Bay for ages. As any restaurateur knows, opening a restaurant, with all its hoops and juggling balls, is not easy, and 21 Days was no exception; the place has actually been 3 years in the planning! However, a few weeks ago, those doors finally opened, and before long, it was looking pretty busy, pretty quick.
I was planning my trip to 21 Days, when the restaurant announced via their Facebook page it was doing Sunday roasts, I was in. Sunday roasts are one of my favourite meals of all time; having grown up with them, it’s a tradition my kids won’t let me drop, even if I wanted to. So, the stakes (no pun intended) were high.
21 Days is named after the length of time it takes to age their beef, and is part-owned by head chef Bob Lun, whose mission is to be the best steak chef, period. Lun worked with the Nourish Group (Euro, Crab Shack, Jervois Steak House etc), learning his trade from Simon Gault, while concurrently setting up a steak house in Queenstown. He became head chef at Jervois Steak House, before leaving Nourish to set up popular Viaduct restaurant Oyster & Chop.
We booked our table by phone – glad we did, as this place gets busy quickly! Almost immediately, we hit a hitch – it turns out you need to order your roast 24 hours in advance (it does say this on the Facebook page but would have been useful to get a reminder when booking a table); however miracles do happen, and we were told a double portion was available (only served for 2 or more) if we wanted it.
Starters first, and the artisan bread, beetroot tart and Caesar salad (proper anchovy dressing, yay!) choices were very much appreciated – empty plates and happy faces all round. My French Onion soup – well, wasn’t a soup. Served inside a crusty loaf, any liquor had disappeared by the time I cracked it open so it was basically caramelised onions in a crusty cob. Flavour lovely, but wouldn’t go back for it.
Roast was sirloin with roast potatoes in wagyu fat, Yorkshire pud, caramelised honey carrots and creamed spinach. And this is when the nail was hit home hard – these guys really Do Meat. And they do it splendidly. Yes, it’s roast beef with Yorkshire Pud, and you can get a side order of onion rings, but this is a long, long way from your traditional pub roast. Flavour and texture of the meat was beyond superb; the kind of meat that makes you groan with happiness and delight. Same could be (and was) said of the rib roast on cheesy mash. Not a single shred of meat left on that plate either.
With plenty of meat for the two of us, plus extra for the one across the table who loved her seafood chowder but was still hungry afterwards (bit more of it would have been good), at $28 per head this is an absolute steal for meat lovers.
Conclusion: come here and eat meat. The service was excellent, and food comes out promptly. The chowder wasn’t big enough; the French Onion soup needs work. But the meat… dear heaven the meat is to die for. Haven’t been served meat this good in a very, very long time.