The Eight Best Roasts in Auckland
The best traditional and ever-homely roasts in town.
August 07, 2014
There are two popular theories on the origins of the Sunday roast. One says that, during the Industrial Revolution, Yorkshire families popped some meat and veg in the oven before leaving for church on a Sunday morning, which was then ready to eat when they returned home at noon. The second dates the roast dinner back even further - to medieval times - when the village serfs served the squire Monday through Saturday. On Sunday after church, serfs would show off their battle skills in the town square, and the most talented/alive serfs were rewarded with a feast of spit-roasted oxen.
Whatever the origin, the roast is a tradition that’s stuck, and now serves as an ideal Sunday night pick-me-up when the clock hits 6pm and you’re freezing cold, sitting in a pile of dirty laundry and/or mourning the imminent start of another working week. And with Auckland’s finest restaurants, pubs and takeaways offering everything from homestyle beef and taters to a full English roast with all the trimmings, there’s every reason to leave the roasting pan rusting away in the drawer at home and make a night of it instead.
Everyone got a wee bit excited when Ostro announced the latest addition to its winter menu, the humble Sunday roast. Available from 12 - 5pm every Sunday for $38.00 per head, Ostro’s spectacular roast is worth every dime - especially devoured on the balcony at sunset with a hangover-busting Bloody Mary. Choose between chicken, beef or pork to enjoy with a bevy of roast veggies seasoned with fresh rosemary and rock salt, jugs of Beef Au Jus, and pesto, mustard and parsnip dipping sauces. Josh Emett is a fan of decent portion sizes, and a half chook with two plump discs of stuffing was more than enough to hit the spot. Combined with faultless service, super flattering lighting and excellent people-watching (even on a school night), Ostro takes the crown for the best roast in town.
Level 2, 52 Tyler Street, Britomart
Galbraith’s is arguably Auckland’s most British pub. It’s big and old and charming, with thick patterned rugs, roughly hewn wooden tables, eclectic decor and absolutely no gimmicks. A full roast meal is available every Sunday for $19.90, and the portion size is technically enough for two; but you won’t want to share. Different meats feature every week, and we were lucky enough to land on roast lamb: tender, beautifully seasoned chops, loads of creamy cauliflower cheese, potatoes and covalo nero (black kale, fashioned into crisps). The music’s on point, the staff treat you like a regular from your first visit and an in-house brewery produces a fine selection of beers, including the dense and chocolatey Grafton Porter. It’s the perfect thing to wash down what will be one of the most satisfying feeds of your life.
2 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden
A mecca for meatlovers, Jervois Steak House not only serve up the most delicious steaks and sauces in town - their Sunday Family Roast is a well-kept secret amongst those sneaky Herne Bayers. A regularly sold-out affair, it’s worth booking your table a week in advance; and not eating anything a day or two in advance. The roast changes weekly, but each glorious hunk of meat is plated up with seasonal roast veggies, fluffy Yorkshire puds, duck fat spuds and rich pan gravy. The roast's $35.00 per head but absolutely worth it.
70 Jervois Road, Herne Bay
Bird on a Wire undeniably serves the best chicken in town. Disclaimer: I used to work there, but still believe that absolutely nothing tasted better than a chunk of free-range chook piping hot off the rotisserie. Happy birds are tasty birds, right? Bird offers a fresh, healthy twist on the Sunday roast with its Feed For One ($15), which includes a quarter chook, a very generous portion of salad (or roast potatoes, cooked in chicken fat and soaked in gravy) and a ciabatta bun. The chook comes natural or dripping in one of Bird’s five delicious housemade bastes, of which Jamaican Jerk tended to be the most popular. The rotating range of salads have their own cult following, and with good reason too. The raw beetroot and walnut with maple vinaigrette or the dijon potato would be my picks for a side to your roast. The gravy roll (chicken, lettuce, taragon mayo and gravy, for $11) is a must-try too.
234 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
5. King’s Roast
This centrally-located Kingsland gem was a popular destination for flat nights out back in my student days. The service is a little indifferent, with the staff being prone to the occasional death stare, but who gives a dang when you can get a mountain of mashed potatoes for $3 or a mile-long lamb roll (with mint sauce!) for $7? The meat - chicken on-the-bone and kebabs, pork (including crackling), beef and lamb shanks - is always of good quality and perfectly cooked. What’s best about King’s (besides the kitschy orange colour scheme), is the attention to detail: they’re not shy with their use of herbs, the sauces and stuffing are full of flavour and there are several good options for vegetarians.
348 New North Road, Kingsland
6. Muddy Farmer
Available every day of the week if you ask sweetly, Muddy Farmer’s Sunday Roast, at $12, is a great value roast dinner served in the fun, casual atmosphere of one of Auckland’s few authentic Irish pubs. Located on Wyndham Street, the sticky-floored Muddy Farmer attracts all sorts: students, tradies, homesick Irishmen and backpackers. It boasts a good selection of tap beers, free pool, the sort of music that encourages sing-alongs and doesn’t truly offend anyone (U2, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen) and, of course, your standard, hearty, well-priced pub grub. The roast dinner includes your choice of meat, crunchy golden potatoes, a mound of buttery, salty veges and traditional Yorkshire pudding - I thought the latter was some sort of dessert until embarrassingly recently. The waitress was kind enough to explain that it’s a savoury scone-type ‘straight man’, which uses pretty much the same ingredients as pancake batter, but “with a few tablespoons of lard”. They’re moreish on their own or as a soaker-upper of excess gravy.
13 Wyndham Street, Auckland CBD
7. Roast Valley Takeaways
Roast Valley is nestled right in the middle of several cheap but not-so-cheerful Asian restaurants in Northcote that give Dominion Road a run for its money. Valley is spacious and clean and has plenty of seating and friendly staff. It’s the best value option on this list, with a “small” meal priced at $11 (your choice of meat, gravy, sauces and all the usual suspects in terms of vegetables). It’s even got a sweet little jukebox in the corner that was belting out classics 'Easy Like Sunday Morning' as we munched away.
51 Pearn Crescent, Northcote
Most people only visit Matakana for organic activated almonds dipped in coyo at the Saturday markets, but if you drive up on a Sunday, the Matakana Village Pub should be your reason for doing so. Arrive at noon, when everything’s fresh out of the oven and crackling hot. Then all you need to do is perch down by the fireplace and order a whole corn-fed chicken with all the trimmings for $34 and two glasses of the pinot gris from nearby Runner Duck Estate. Heaven.
11 Matakana Valley Road, Matakana
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