Choose all three courses or leave your dining destiny in the hands of the chef.
Fraser McCarthy and Shannon Vandy have long been inspired to own and run their own restaurant. With the former stark orange Khyber Tandoori space becoming available at the crossroads of Symonds Street, that dream has now become a reality.
The couple has a wealth of industry experience; they first met at The Grove in 2009 under the care of Ben Bayly who has since become something of a mentor. After branching out for stints at Merediths and Tribeca, the pair ventured across international waters to work as private chefs in Chamonix, France, before returning to further refine their practise and start their own place.
With Lillius the pair wanted to create an environment with great food and atmosphere. "We love cooking fine dining quality food but want to make it more accessible and comfortable out the front." The idea is to make the space less of a special occasion destination and more of a local where guests can enjoy three courses for $70 per person or leave their dining destiny in the hands of the chef with a five-course set menu for $110.
McCarthy's approach in the kitchen will be to showcase ingredients from small local suppliers. Examples include a plate of fresh raw vegetables with a cashew cream dip inspired by his mother and a simple dish of potatoes — crispy and baked with New Zealand parmesan sauce and spring leaves. "This dish is just about the potato but because the sauce is so delicious we now serve it with a wholemeal pikelet so they can mop up the sauce."
During the restaurant's first week of service guests will also have the choice of mouthwatering options like: wild shot venison, pickled mushrooms, smoked egg and leeks, Northland scallops with bone marrow, savoy cabbage, sago and seaweed, and Hapuka, stuffed courgette flower, asparagus and coriander.
Justin Roderique from Pennant and Triumph designed the space with a large chunk of materials and fabrics, including granite for the tables and bench tops, scoured from around Auckland. The space can seat around 40 in the dining area, though a little glasshouse courtyard out the back is set to open next year and will become a private dining area for up to ten diners.
Image: Tez Mercer