Around the World Dining in Auckland: Le Chef

One of my favourite food memories is this little restaurant in Saint-Emillion in the Bordeaux region of France. It’s full of smokey meat smells and aromas of many things cooked in butter. One of the cooks is slicing charcuterie near where you walk in, and there are a zillion things hanging on the walls that you suspect might be edible and are in different stages of drying or curing.

I remember ordering the duck breast, which was so rare I couldn’t believe it, but happily tucked into it as I did say: “à point” when asked how I’d like it to be prepared. Up until today I thought this phrase meant: ‘how the chef chooses to cook it’, but actually it means rare. So go figure. Good I like my meat still mooing. Or quacking.

ANYWAY I digress. This lovely memory of France is not something that enters my mind very often here in New Zealand. There are some nice French restaurants, but not like my memory. I don’t really have anything to remind me of that food, style of cooking, atmosphere, SMELL – well or so I thought. Then I was introduced to Le Chef.

Le Chef opened their first restaurant on Victoria Street about a year ago but it was tiny and people loved it straight away and it only had a few tables, so they moved to a bigger busier location on Vulcan Lane about six months ago. I was generously invited to dine at Le Chef this week as a preview to ‘La Longue Table Du Chef’, organised by Zomato as a Blogger’s Meetup. Le Chef is throwing this amazing event on Friday, and check this out: one giant table set up underneath the stars and festoon lights. 120 people. One three course French meal with champagne. Live music. So of course it’s already sold out. However, given the response to their first one, they have assured us there are more to come so watch this space, and get on it quickly when the next one is organised!

The restaurant itself is really lovely and has a great atmosphere. Especially jam packed full of people. There wasn’t an empty seat on the Monday night we dined so clearly people have clicked that this is the real deal. Édouard, the owner, was gracious and spoke with clear passion about the restaurant, and the very experienced head chef, Grant Kitchen came out and explained all the dishes to us as we sat open mouthed drooling. (As an aside, if your last name is kitchen – were you always destined to be a chef?!?)

Below are the beautiful dishes we were able to sample. Check them out, and definitely visit Le Chef for a proper French experience, food, wine, culture, it ticks all the boxes.

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Tartare de Boeuf – beef tartare, mustard emulsion, truffle oil, petit salad, charred egg yolk

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Traditional mixing of all the bits before digging into the tartare.

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Champignons a l’ail – garlic mushrooms, truffle creme, pomme de terre, confit tomatoes, cress

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Lightly cured salmon, dill, caviar, risotto puree, lime and dijon

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Le Poulet Supreme – chicken ballantine supreme served with cranberry, bacon, gooey camembert croquette, salt baked carrot puree, celery

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Le Cerf Forestier – Rack of Venison (!!) with black forest mushrooms, crispy potato, roasted veggies and a rich chocolate jus

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Faux-Fillet du Chef Pour Deux – herb crusted 650g beef short rib for two served with petit vegetables, truffled mushrooms,  crunchy potatoes, horseradish bernaise, beaujolais jus

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The wine list at Le Chef is equally impressive and this French sparkling wine Verve du Vernay hit the spot. Of course.

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The Finale!

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A perfectly creamy creme brulee

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Coconut panacotta with mango sorbet

Le Chef is located on 13 O’Connell St, right at the top of Vulcan Lane. They are open every day from 7am – midnight so you can grab your breakfast fix, lunch or dinner – any day of the week. You can also book (hallelujah) so I would recommend doing so – this is a popular place for a reason.

I dined as a guest of Zomato, but opinions are my own and always will be, my foodie friends.

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