Clooney

Upon our return to New Zealand and for my birthday we decided to dine at Clooney, they’d been following our journey quite closely and we were keen to see what Nobu Lee their newish head chef had to offer. Clooney is one of the top fine dining restaurants in Auckland and was our first restaurant to visit once home.

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We arrive and are offered to have drinks at the bar or head to our table, we opt for a pre-drink to start. We have a mixture of delightful cocktails and enjoy relaxing in a lovely setting. Once arriving at our table we’re greeted by Tony and introduced to our waiter. We have the option of seeing the menu or being surprised as we go. I always like to know what’s coming so get a copy of the menu to follow along.

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Our sommelier is great and with our champagne, we have Perrier Jouret glasses. We notice how wonderful he is throughout the evening! We’re given warm scented towels. When one of our guests goes to the bathroom the napkin is folded promptly.

We begin with five canapes of kiwi influence:

a tribute to Maori – this is served in an edible mussel shell, very neat!

lost to our past – done in conjunction with the garden to table trust. The texture is on point and the concept is great.

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iconic New Zealand – their take on fish and chips, so fun, Kiwi as and very good. We did miss that iconic tomato sauce though!

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innovation – paua is cooked perfectly, however, the taste feels like it needs something else.

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a look to the future – locusts! Incredible!

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The canapes are a course in themselves!

In the bathrooms, there is no hand lotion however they are very nice.

We’re given warm bread, thank you and butter. Tony comes over and you can feel his passion. That’s how you do a bread course, simple and delicious. We need to make a decision on our dessert, feels a little early for me however understand the kitchen need to prepare.

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Our first official course is alpine salmon, green apple, dill. The table loves it, however, I’m not a huge fan which is strange for me as I usually love salmon.

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Asparagus, yuzu, cold pressed olive oil, parsley. It’s a great dish however missing some of the fat content that would have elevated it to another level.

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Spacing is rather slow however they know we have all night and are celebrating both our return to the country and my birthday!

Langoustine, leek, banana. One of the things I loved about South America was the pairing of fish with banana so I was excited to give this one a go. This is no exception to my enjoyment, a great course!

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Cauliflower, almond, black currant. Absolutely delicious.

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We’d done the wine pairing and our sommelier is incredibly entertaining.

Coastal spring lamb tartare, oyster, sea banana. It’s a great tartare, I just felt like it needed a little more work.

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The final main course is Peking duck, capsicum, lemon and we end on a high. It is fantastic!

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Our pre-dessert and palate cleanser is a little sour for my liking however does the job.

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We have a cheese course which is delightful before moving on to our final course which is strawberry, sorrel, kawakawa. I’m not a huge fan but it’s a nice kiwi dessert.

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We end the evening with petit fours which are sensational, I particularly liked the banana cake.

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Clooney is one of those places you go for a fancy night out, for a celebration, to splash out and we did just that. The service is great, the food is exciting and tells a story and you’ll have a night to remember. While we didn’t love every single course there were some standouts and with that level of creativity, you’re not going to please everyone. The team are passionate and it shows and we really enjoyed our time there. Would I go back? Of course, next big celebration after we’ve dined at a few more of the Auckland 50 Best Restaurants.

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