The Vic Park end of Victoria Street has recently come alive with hospo heavyweights popping up left, right and centre (largely thanks to hungry/thirsty office workers). Another contender - Vikki Lane - has just surfaced, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks in a brand new development near the Spark building.
You'll find Vikki Lane down a concrete and glass alleyway - there's tables and bar leaners aplenty outside and greenery adorning the wall on your left as you stroll through the doors. The entire front of the restaurant is glass, and the interior is similarly industrial - floors are concrete and the bar is a rustic light wood, which adds homely character to the space. The standout piece of the interior is a series of four photos showing random people, young and old as the thoroughly enjoy a meal - which leads me to the conclusion that this place is all about the food.
The menu cements that impression with imaginative dishes such as butter-fried scallops with black pudding, creamed kumara, bacon lardons and basil pesto ($18). There's several options to choose from including snacks, mains desserts and Grey Lynn Butchery sausages with accompaniments or stone baked pizzas (diners at a nearby table recommended the pork belly pizza). After discussion with the waiter, a small squabble among ourselves and a cold beer or two we decided on the pork belly, slow braised, hoisin style sauce, crackling, rocket ($15), the lemon pepper squid with chilli and lime mayonnaise ($12.50), risotto balls with plum sauce and of course, the scallops - what self respecting Northlander could turn these down?
The scallops were cooked to perfection on a bed of delicious creamy kumara, with crispy prosciutto on top, while the squid was a more basic dish with crunchy battered bites in a bowl and a seriously tasty sauce to dip. The pork was tender and the crackle was crunchy but in need of more sauce, while the risotto balls were creamy and flavourful. Matching this with a couple of beers off an ok beer list and a wine (off a rather impressive wine menu), culminated in a meal and an evening which was pretty top notch.
Food was good, venue was corporate but comfortable and the service was excellent - however it's possible Vikki Lane hasn't done enough to differentiate itself from the number of phenomenal restaurant/bars popping up all over Auckland.
Either way, I'd certainly recommend visiting Vikki if you're in the area - especially if you fancy real food with your after work tipple.