You know you’re in for something special the moment you enter Clooney. And I’m not just talking about the food. Sexy leather booths define seating areas, surrounded in black hanging fringing, lit with spots specified for each table and oversized exposed bulbs dangling against a chic industrial back drop. These are just a few of the magic touches that explain the irresistibly chic and timless restaurant’s consistent recognition since its considered inception six years ago.
The award winning restaurant is frequented by a corporate, local and well-heeled following, with the space was specifically designed to create a palpable and social buzz, with tables and booths mostly to seat groups of 4-6. Owner Tony Stewart’s vision for the space seems to have married a winning mix of expertise and intuition. Great consideration has been given to how the diner interacts with their environment through the use of space, lighting and design. “We wanted to encourage conversation, with a focus on the food - lighting off the face and on the plates,” he explains.
Stewart describes the food as contemporary New Zealand and the menu is ever changing and evolving. Chef Des Harris’ cuisine melds the tradition of classical cuisine with a contemporary approach to ingredients and technique. The flavours are clean, precise and modern. The night we visit we are treated to a six course tasting menu (with an additional dessert – lucky us!) matched perfectly with wines to compliment the dishes. The menu was superb – with an interesting combination of flavours and textures and as for the presentation – nothing short of art on a plate.
Dish highlights included the kingfish with wasabi, coconut, avocado and lemon peel and the pig with sunchoke, rosemary, celery, apple and toasted faro. Creative and bursting with flavour. The anticipation about what’s to come built with increasing eagerness as we made our way through the courses.
The wait staff were utterly charming and professional. It’s not fine dining, the staff interact with you and are dressed smart and sophisticated as opposed to too formally, but the service is top notch. That’s what I love about this place, its aspirational yet accessible – you can’t hear the China clinking! It has real soul.
And even better – we just found out Clooney does BYO Sundays, so now there’s really no excuse not to slip into one of the booths and let yourself be treated to a truly special night out.
Make sure you check out A Taste of Test Kitchen on Wednesday, August 14 2013. Click here for details.