What was once Urchin and Amber, a glorious bastion of old faithful fish and chips and Auckland brewed craft beer, is now The Lobby, a slightly upmarket but casual bistro. Helmed by the award-winning team who also operate The Gin Room, The Lobby is located down the ever bustling Melbourne-esque Vulcan Lane, and early impressions suggest it shows immense promise.
The space is characterised by a roof covered in lush hanging plants, rustic bare brick walls, and antique-y darkwood leaner tables. '50s-style fedoras hang from hooks, old tin cans full of cutlery litter tables and there's a decent amount of outdoor seating if big yellow is out. Two waiters on for the lunch rush offer quick and attentive service, complete with a friendly yarn and handy advice on the best items off a short but inventive and attractive menu. Recommended are the fig and halloumi salad ($14), and the ham hock with peach and cumin gouda ($28).
We go with the ham hock, a rare beef, mango and chilli salad ($20) and salmon ceviche with wasabi and creme fraiche ($14). Eyes widen and cutlery clinks as my my co-reviewer and I realise how delicious the food is. We regret deciding to share. The beef is a standout, with savoury flavours of perfectly cooked meat complimented by a bed of zesty mango, chilli and fresh coriander. The ceviche is almost as phenomenal and perhaps more indulgent, with raw salmon coated in a creamy/spicy wasabi dressing and fish eggs on a bed of fresh greens. One taste wasn't enough and I'm already plotting my return to sample other weird and wonderful dish such as the poached chicken with kaffir lime, coconut and spicy bean slaw ($28). The drinks list also impresses with tipples curated by acclaimed barman and beverage aficionado, Cameron Atfield. There's a screed of craft beers on offer (including fresh Sawmill on tap), housemade shrubs, as well as a diverse and masterfully chosen wine list, which I'm told will impress even the most discerning wino.
Post meal I left happily wined and dined, no longer mourning the loss of the excellent Urchin and Amber as the team here have created a superior experience, in every way adding even more winning character to one of Auckland's most unique and oldest laneway.