Dominion Road has always boasted fascinating culinary offerings, with its bent for rustic, authentic and oriental dining making it one of Auckland's favourite foodie streets. So when local legend and purveyors of contemporary-yet-affordable Vietnamese, Peasant, closed its doors, locals collectively bemoaned its absence. In true Dominion Road fashion an even better alternative has appeared in its place, serving homestyle, farm-to-plate Kiwi fare with an intriguing Moroccan twist. It's Dominion Road but not as you know it.
The venue (known for a large number of tapped out restaurants) has been touched up nicely, featuring strings of fairy lights illuminating the glassy exterior, a rustic bar of cobbled together wooden planks, and generous booth seating to sink in when a food coma is imminent. When summer is finally here again a generous outdoor area will accommodate several drinkers and diners, cementing Onslow's reputation as Dominion's new local.
Wairarapa's Pipa Wylie is the head chef and part owner, in cahoots with brothers Dougal and Hamish and sister-in-law Sarah. After an illustrious culinary career spanning decades and continents (including a stint as head chef at Grey Lynn's much loved Ripe) Pipa has settled in Auckland to focus on doing what she loves, her own way. The love shows through in the inventive and mouthwatering food and a succinct menu split into sides, smaller plates, sharing and sweets sections. Standouts include the crumbed artichokes with smashed avocado and spinach ($16), halloumi mushrooms with olives, red onion and tomato ($22), and the grilled beef with truffle oil paprika and cumin ($24) - all of which are homegrown and rustic dishes refined with panache and skill. The beef with truffle oil is insanely delicious. The earthy rich flavours of truffle combine beautifully with the peppery cumin and perfectly cooked steak. Dessert in the form of a plum and pistachio filo pastry ($14) is also tasty but doesn't impress as completely as the outstanding shared courses.
Guaranteed to leave you popping buttons on your slacks, Onslow is a triumph thanks to its inventive but comforting Kiwi cooking and warm hospitality. So next time you're on Dominion give the take-out noodles and shoddy dumpling joints a miss - you'll feel more at home at Onslow.