Outside of their much loved, regular local patronage, Ampersand Eatery is one of central Auckland’s relatively undiscovered gems. The modern, spacious restaurant boasts a seriously experienced hospitality team, a delightfully impressive menu, a vast beverage offering (including Espresso Workshop coffee perfection) and stunning views over Hobson Bay. Parking is a plenty and you feel equally at home there during a catch-up brunch, a business lunch, a romantic evening dinner date or a larger weekend family affair.
Ampersand will be six in April next year, and it’s the kind of location that once you visit, it automatically becomes a regular fixture in your weekly dining repertoire. Co-owners Amanda Rogers (ex-Maître De of both Bracu and Sidart) and Mikey Newlands (ex-Executive Chef Bracu and Sous Chef at The Grove) run a seriously impressive, customer service oriented team, and a menu offering than genuinely surprises and delights.
Launching a new Spring Menu from October 19, Newlands and his culinary team have put together something very special to celebrate the change of season. “Spring is always a welcome time of the year in the kitchen, after the braises and root vegetables of winter (which a great in their own right) it’s a breath of fresh air to get to use some lovely spring bounty. We try our best to take these spring ingredients and show case their potential and that’s where we get our inspiration from” explains Executive Chef Mikey Newlands.
Due to popular demand, Ampersand have brought back their coveted pan roasted cauliflower dish (shown right) with fresh spring inspiration. Brought to life with curry oil, medjool date, cashew, pomegranate and fresh coriander. The subtle use of spice in their house made curry blend, paired with the sweetness of medjool date, pomegranate and coriander make for an almost inexplicable, delightfully satisfying flavour combination that almost jumps off the plate and into your mouth.
Spring menu highlights include the welcome re-arrival of their signature heirloom tomato salad which always pleases both the eye and the palate with its sumptuous vibrancy and freshness as the days warm up.
Newlands adds “Our market fish dish has been with us for a few years now, we can’t take it off the menu due to its popularity. We serve it with our interpretation of Chermoula, a North African herb and spice paste similar to chimichurri. Its light but satisfying and packs a very impressive flavour punch”.
Ampersand make their own pasta and their fresh egg spaghetti with king prawns (shown left) is a firm favourite with locals. It’s a flexible dish that can easily be served in two sizes which appeals to a variety of guests. The prawn shells are reduced to a powder which their exceptional flavour and its complemented beautifully with fresh herbs, chilli, lemon and a little butter.
There is an abundance of fresh herbs to accompany the dishes which is what we’re all looking for on an inspiring spring menu. “We love to use herbs, they elevate a dish is so many ways, (even desserts with strawberries and mint for example) and they’re great to add a splash of colour and fresh flavour. During winter they’re harder to come by and more expensive, and spring gives us the chance to welcome them back like long lost friends”.
Speaking of long-lost friends, that’s how it feels when you walk through the Orakei Bay Village doors into Ampersand, the staff are truly wonderful and welcoming, the food is seriously impressive and the space itself is the perfect mix of relaxed comfort meets a delicious dining experience. You can reserve a table online (bookings are not essential) or visit their website for more information.