There is a sassy new lady in town ready to serve you some good ol' fashioned soul food. Introducing Miss Clawdy, the newest feather in Wynyard Quarter's culinary cap, situated in the new ASB Building on Jellicoe Wharf.
The restaurant’s name comes from the 1950s hit song "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" recorded in New Orleans by Lloyd Price, and the whole place oozes a warm Louisiana charm. Dark wood panels are offset by colourful stools and a kitsch tile-look floor. A cluster of woven basket lights hang above the booths and high tables, but the real feature is the large open kitchen, which invites patrons to watch their Southern comfort food being created.
Both the drink and food menus have been masterfully curated and feature all the hallmarks of Southern American fare in a fresh and contemporary way. We started with a mojito – the classic white rum based cocktail – which Miss Clawdy makes using house-brewed kiwi infused green tea ($12.50). The result was an extremely refreshing and dangerously easy to drink beverage. Along with the tempting cocktail menu there is a nice selection of craft and imported beers (including Pacífico) and New Zealand wines.
With the food we were recommended to order a selection of items small and large and share – if we wanted to – which suited our camp well. We settled on one each of the tacos – the grilled fish with pico de gallo and shredded iceberg ($6), the pulled pork with green apple, cabbage slaw and micro coriander ($6) and the pumpkin, yellow lentils, zucchini and capsicum, with goat’s curd and lemon ($6). We added in a prawn and papaya salad with cucumber, chili, lime and jerk dressing ($14), a Po’ Boy (the classic Southern American sandwich made with a soft, slightly sweet white bread roll) filled with braised beef cheeks with shredded iceberg, red Mexican pesto ($14) and the snapper ceviche with coconut, tomato, red onion, shallots and coriander ($14).
To be frank, everything we ordered was pretty darn tasty but there were some absolute standouts. The tacos were delicious and early on I was impressed with the delicious rustic soft taco shell. I asked, and yes, they are ‘house made’. Making things from scratch clearly isn’t something the folks at Miss Clawdy’s aren’t scared to do which is a good sign of a great restaurant. The winner of the night however was the ceviche. Made with fresh snapper straight from next door (the Auckland Fish Markets), and served with crispy corn chips, this was hands down one of the best ceviches I’ve had in a very long time. It was so good one of my dinning companions asked if it would be embarrassing if he ordered a second helping of it (definitely not!).
We did save room in our dessert stomachs for something sweet and we selected a serving of the key lime pie with torched meringue and a delightful garnish of candied lime rind ($10), and the cinnamon beignets with butterscotch sauce ($10). The pie is a particularly generous serve but lovely a zesty with lots of creamy meringue. The beignets (aka doughnut balls) were particularly yummy with a nice grainy cinnamon sugar crust without being oily and heavy and when united with the caramel sauce were a lovely sweet full stop to the meal.
The concept of a Southern American inspired restaurant isn’t a particularly new one, but one of the notable things about Miss Clawdy’s was how they’ve taken a typically heavy, fat-laden cuisine and made it fresh, tasty and light without losing the flavours and essence of what Southern American food is. It was Southern comfort food the way we like it and will see people like myself coming back for more.
The service in this joint was excellent. You got the feeling that everyone at Miss C's was pretty proud of what they’d created – as they should be. So raise a nip of bourbon to Miss Clawdy. As Lloyd Price says in his song “Girl you sure look good to me.”