There are plenty of things I like about food, but one big plus is it brings people together. Birthday, anniversary, catching up, just because, can’t be bothered washing dishes – let’s go grab a bite to eat.
For the larger celebrations, Auckland has some pretty fantastic options for private dining. I took advantage of one of the below for my birthday this year, and it was a really lovely way to see all my friends and eat all the food. All the below need to be booked in advance, some have a minimum spend per person, and most have set menus.
Here are my suggestions for your next special event, if you’d like to make it extra special. (And only your nearest and dearest will see you stuffing your face).
160 Ponsonby Road | 09 320 4237
Saan is one of my favourite restaurants on Ponsonby Road at the moment, and for really good reason. The service is exceptional, the fit out is really spectacular (especially when you consider it used to be the Video Ezy) and the food. Oh my lanta, the food. Specialising in Northern Thai street food, smaller & larger plates – the food is varied, listed in order of spiciness and are some of the tastiest dishes I’ve eaten in Auckland. (Their sister restaurants Cafe Hanoi and Xuxu frequent this blog as well). They offer three different banquet option‘s that cost $45-$50 per person and a really lovely private dining room which seats up to 20 people. Minimum spend is $500 for a table of 8 or less and $65 per person for larger groups. No deposit required and it can be booked online.
5 Fort Lane, Auckland CBD | 09 379 9702
Cassia was voted Auckland’s best restaurant by Metro Magazine this year, and serves stand out modern Indian. Chef Sid Sahrawat’s golden touch is on every dish, the flavours are unique and the plating is seriously impressive. For a fine dining meal, this won’t set you back as much as you’d expect as well. Cassia has two private rooms, the first aptly named “The Private Dining Room” seats up to 24 and has a set menu for $70 per person. The beautiful Holi Room is “semi” private (you can see it from the rest of the restaurant but it’s tucked into a cosy corner) and seats up to 14 people with the same set menu as above. Cassia also has some of the best gin cocktails and tonics on supply, so make sure you save room for one or two or five.
118 Ponsonby Road | 09 378 7979
Orphans Kitchen has the best oysters in Auckland. I know this is a BIG CALL but I’m just saying. Champagne granita. And oysters. This combination is ridiculous and I am in love. I only first made it to OK a short while ago, but had enquired about a private booking a while back. We didn’t have enough people to make it worthwhile but it’s definitely on my list for the future since the food is so damn good. Fresh, seasonal, foraged, short menu, and they serve you the most giant generous portion of butter and bread complimentary which means they really do have my heart. Their upstairs private dining room is really lovely and seats up to 20 people (at a squeeze). Minimum spend for the room is $1100 and the set menu is a pre-requisite but is 4 courses for $65/pp or $75 to add on cheese. Note, there is a $150 cancelation fee and details are taken in advance.
472 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn | 09 360 6207
Siostra is always a good time, and the menu is exactly the right length for me. One page, a handful of small dishes, a handful of starters and about 5 mains with a couple specials of the day. They have a lovely private room upstairs overlooking Richmond Road where I celebrated my birthday this year and the team are very accommodating (down to putting up with us taking over the upstairs stereo and breaking out into 80’s pop sing alongs at the end of the night – did I mention the wine list is also great?) They don’t restrict your choices, so order however you would like, but I would suggest a bunch of small plates/starters for the table and a main per person. I never have room because the entrees are so damn good, but their desserts are also divine. No charge to book, seats 12+ comfortably.
146 Ponsonby Road | 09 360 0303
The Blue Breeze Inn doesn’t technically have a private dining room but it does have a GIANT PLUSH BLUE CIRCLE BOOTH for between 8-10 people and is without a doubt the most fun table you can sit at. Bookings are essential, and can be done over the phone or online – order what you like from the menu – you can’t put a foot wrong, everything is good. If you need some direction, the pork buns are Auckland famous, the wild boar is one of my top city dishes and any of the dumplings will be divine.
210 Symonds Street, Eden Terrace | 09 377 1911
A couple of years ago The French Kitchen renovated their garden area out back and opened The French Kitchen. If you’ve never been to either you wouldn’t have a clue that off the rather uninspiring part of Symonds Street is the best fine dining restaurant in Auckland. The food is so good. Exceptional. Every dish. Especially the beetroot and goats cheese tart so don’t forget. It’s on my bucketlist to book out The French Kitchen for a special occasion. It seats up to 30, overlooks the rest of the garden area, which in summer is green and modern and warm (and I think they have beehives). The set menu is worth the splurge, settle in for hours and just enjoy. Savour.
The Skytower, 72 Victoria Street, CBD | 09 363 6365
I recently spent a wonderful long lunch in the private dining room of The Sugar Club as part of a work celebration. It’s a pretty special option, with a private area that seats up to 12 people and overlooks the Waitakere ranges and the harbour. On the website they state there is a $1000 minimum spend but when I booked this wasn’t mentioned so maybe double check. They also say there’s a $100 room hire and we definitely weren’t charged this so again, just double check – we booked a Saturday lunch perhaps they only enforce this on Fri/Sat evenings…? We had a three course meal, with a choice between three options for each course, and an amuse-bouche to begin, a selection of bread from Olaf’s with butter and a palate cleanser halfway through, for $75/pp. The food was so beautiful and the portion sizes generous (I couldn’t finish my dessert!) and you get complimentary access to the viewing platform after your meal if you are interested. (I needed to be rolled home).
124 Oceanview Road, Oneroa, Waiheke Island | 09 372 2222
If you’re heading over to Waiheke Island for the big meal, one of the most fun places to eat is The Oyster Inn. Yes, they have oysters. They also have the best prawn cocktail and gorgeous local wine options by the glass. They offer a private dining option named The Pearl Room which seats up to 32 guests with stunning views over Oneroa beach. The website says there’s a $350 charge for corporate events but doesn’t mention normal dining (it does say the charge is waived if you spend over $1500 so double check but this is assuming the room is booked all day). They also have beautiful hotel rooms, so fill up and then have someone carry you back to your room. Perfect.