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12° & RAINY ON THURSDAY 23 MAY IN AUCKLAND
By Stephen Heard
March 14, 2019
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Harbour Society

You'll find this French-inspired restaurant inside Auckland's new luxury hotel.
By Stephen Heard
March 14, 2019
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Once you're finished mingling with the elite at the picturesque rooftop bar inside SO/ Auckland, a visit to the restaurant directly downstairs should be next on your list. Harbour Society can be found on the 15th floor of the new luxury inner city hotel on Customs Street.

Like HI-SO, the restaurant offers wraparound views of Waitemata Harbour and the city — the perfect talking point for awkward dinner guests. Accessible to the general public as well as paying guests, the spacious 95-seat restaurant is best suited for a special occasion. Request one of the intimate booths, or splash out on the generous private room, and head there in time to see the sun dipping over the harbour for maximum brownie points.

A main drawcard of the restaurant is Marc de Passorio, a French-born chef who previously owned Michelin-starred restaurant, L'Esprit de la Violette. Relocating to New Zealand to launch Harbour Society, de Passorio brings a European flair to the menu.

His signature dish is a crayfish/lobster entree which was first created for Vladimir Putin. Arriving under a smoke-filled glass dome, the dish comprises vodka-soaked marshmallows topped with florescent green balls of wasabi, perfect rounds of compressed beetroot topped with caviar and light-as-a-feather crayfish topped with micro-herbs. Whatever order you tackle the components, all flaunt rich flavour characteristics and an overarching smoky tinge. It's a dish so fresh and creamy that it'll make you forget about the view.

For a ride on the umami train, try the cep mushroom ravioli which stars five parcels containing French fungi and doused in a rich truffle and potato cream. Before you even get that far, the kitchen sends out a serving of warm bread with truffle butter. Although delicious, go easy on the complimentary snack so you can save room for three courses. 

The main section is split into three parts: From the Sea, From the Land, and From the Garden. The duck breast comes poached in milk and finished with Manuka honey. The plate is overly busy, dotted with peas, carrots, halved tomatoes and several kinds of puree — you really have no idea where to start. The dish also offers a taste of the cep mushroom ravioli in case you missed out. The lamb rack is another hearty option; cooked on the charcoal and served with hummus and raspberry harissa. The beetroot makes another appearance here — this time in rectangle form and topped with a line of broad beans. 

If by this stage that food coma has turned into an overnight stay downstairs, the breakfast menu is just as intriguing. Guests have the choice of the continental or set menus with the addition of sides and unlimited coffee and tea. There's a DIY salad bar and juice station, cold cured meats and the makings of a full hot breakfast. From the a la carte menu, the hot smoked salmon with whipped butter deserves your full attention.

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