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Housed in Auckland's iconic heritage Ferry Building, Botswana Butchery has well and truly established itself after its much-hyped arrival into Auckland. Following in the footsteps of its popular sister restaurants in Queenstown and Wanaka, Botswana Butchery offers 'premium, fun dining' for everyone from local suits to tourists heading to Waiheke or Devonport. So at home are the locals it has already been affectionately coined it 'The Devonport Departure Lounge'.
And a welcoming atmosphere is true to their vision, "We wanted to create a space where everyone feels relaxed and welcome – be it a group of businessmen at a meeting or the other guests more casually dressed waiting for the ferry," explains General Manager, Kieran Turnbull. "We offer the same service as other premium establishments, but without the stuffiness."
Upon entering the space we are instantly struck with the palpable buzz and upbeat music – the bar is positively bustling for 6.30pm on a Thursday night. We are welcomed and seated in the bar with a Champagne and sit back to take in the surrounds. The fit out is opulent and fun - eclectic patterned wallpaper, large bold lamps, a combination of black leather and velvet purple chairs at the bar and carefully mismatched colorful arm chair style chairs in the dining room. The tables are arranged along the front of the building, taking in wonderful views of the of the ferries coming in to dock and the outdoor lounges make use of the premium seaside real estate.
Head Chef Stuart Rogan, who was previously head chef at Sky City's The Grill, has designed the menu to be simple with a focus on fresh local produce, good quality cuts of meat and few surprises. Explains Turnbull, "We are not trying to reinvent the gastronomic world here, just create good, honest, modern New Zealand cuisine."
And the menu doesn't disappoint. The wine list is a treat in itself - extensive and considered. Our sommelier recommends a wonderful Hawkshead Pinot Noir to match my food order and he was spot on - a medium bodied, deliciously light yet intense expression of Pinot Noir.
I can never go past Bluff Oysters, so we start with a half dozen to share, closely followed by the Spanish style whitebait. All deliciously fresh and perfectly simple – just like good seafood should be.
For the main I enquire about their signature dish – a 1.4kg whole lamb shoulder for two, slow roasted for five hours (served with a spoon and fork its so tender). Tempting as it sounds, after all the seafood starters there's not much chance of us getting through this, especially if we want to leave room for dessert (which we do!). We both settle on the ever-popular eye fillet steak from 'the butcher's block' with a mushroom and cognac sauce, a side of roast vegetables and a beetroot, hazelnut and goats cheese salad. All cooked to perfection and fitting portion sizes after our entrees.
When I said 'room for dessert', what I really meant was room for The Money Shot – a creamy concoction made famous in Queenstown which marries the heavenly tastes of Banoffi pie, banana, vanilla, gingerbread, cream and cinnamon in one delicious vodka shooter. If there's such a thing as heaven in a shot this is it! The perfect finish to a wonderful night.
As for the service, our waitress was attentive yet discreet and had all the answers to our constant stream of questions.
This vibrant newbie is a welcome addition to downtown Auckland and is sure to become a popular fixture with its 'fine-service in a casual setting with quality, simple food' ethos.
52 Tyler Street, Britomart