Reviews for The French Cafe
by Shinji Kihara
one month ago
Definitely deserves the status they have earned. Consideration of the seasonality, well trained staffs and quality of food of course.
So how did they not get the 5.0 from me? Well I have to say there are some minor criticisms on some of the food and wine list, but let me go through my thought on the food first :)
So we had their tasting menu.
Flavours of spring:
There were two separate dishes served, the whitebait sandwich. Yes pungent flavours of whitebait in fluffy scrambled-like egg sandwiched by crispy bread (I mean really crispy!) perfumed with butter. SERIOUSLY tasty stuff here.
It was then followed by smoked salmon powder, bagel crumb, asparagus, pea, and cream fraiche with dill. This dish truly defines the "spring" for me. Just nicely smoked, The feast of the spring veges with the kick of dill aroma and crunch of bagel crumb. What a start.
Apple jelly, shaved scallops, verjus, and creme fraiche .
Acidity of the apple jelly makes it rather refreshing and appetising. King fish, nice and firm, sliced scallops just melts in my mouth. However, i didnt see the point of having the creme fraiche on the same dish.
Egg Yolk Confit with consomme
smoked potato, leeks, permesan, iberico ham.
Great great flavour profiles. Loved how the combination of the flavours was so harmonious. However, the consomme was overseasoned (what a shame because I loved the flavours themselves) which indeed perplexed me finishing the dish, though I did finish it as the Albarino (the white wine) helped a lot to refresh my palate. And the Iberico Ham was a little disappointment due to the lack of "Umami".
Caramerised Pork Belly
Langoustine scampi, carrot, almond, gingerbread
Perhaps the dish of the night! Pork seasoned with presumably five spice (which include fennel, Sichuan pepper, cloves, star anise and high proportion of cinnamon) was tender and packed with flavours. Scampi was, fresh and almost "bouncy"had concentrated flavour. Elegant Madeira sauce which makes the dish very light. Crunch of crushed gingerbread and slight sweetness provided by the carrot puree. I think this dish balances itself out. Perfect dish I would like to say. Bravo.
Market fish (snapper)
caramerised cauliflower, crab, macademia, brown butter, kale
By this stage I was getting quite full but this dish appetised me again. Snapper with lemon zest? may be lemon juice, and mashed potatoes perfumed with lemons. Yes the acidity from lemon made it the whole dish rather refreshing. crispy kales and crab give the interest to the dish.
Confit duck breast
Sweet spices, sprouting greens, orange, kumara.
The duck is beyond tender. Great combination between duck and orange, and Kumara puree matched its sweetness to the orange sauce. Sadly the orange concentrate was so overwhelming that the subtle flavours of the duck was trashed. basically the slight bitterness and the over-reduced orange character overpowered the other components on the dish. If the concentrate is the important theme of this dish then the gaminess of wild duck would have been a better option to balance out the flavours.
Then we had red berry granita with Granny Smith as a refresher. Yes sharp sourness of granny smith and the light red berry character. mmm..... I became hungry again!
caramerised milk, hazelnut, malt powder, mandarin, dried mandarin
Basically the fiesta of chocolate! mouse, malt, ice cream, lots and lots of chocolate with different textures. Chocolate themselves are very high quality. Truly glorious dish!
Carefully structured course menu.
The criticism I (as a wine freak) have is that the lack of options of dry riesling. As the many dishes are nice and fresh, the dry riesling let's say Alsacian or Auzzie would be great options. Also I know that it is great to have Ch Lafite and Haut Brion on the list but there arent not many options on the semi-special wines. It is The French Cafe, why not serve semi-special wines, lets say $70-90 per bottle, by the glass, so <$25 per glass, people pursue some sort of the special experience.
one month ago
Amazing dining experience in Auckland
Wonderful place , great staff and one of the best food I've had here !
Warm bread, delicious butter. Awesome wine selection, the scallops were cooked perfectly with subtle flavours. The duck was brilliant .
Overall first class service and top class good quality
Worth every dollar
by Sanjesh Lal
one month ago
What a fantastic experience! Went for dinner with $200 gift voucher. Cost an extra $30, so $230 for a couple. Food and service was impeccable. Chefs create wonderful taste sensations with flavours and textures. Ended up really full by the end even with small food portions which we didn't mind at all. Not for everyday dining due to cost, but the BEST fine dining for that special occasion.
by Candii Cao
one month ago
Service was excellent as soon as we stepped into the restaurant. The restaurant was not too big but nicely laid out and spacious seatings. We ordered from the ala carte and it ranged from appetizers, entrees, mains and desserts. The portion size while wasn't very big it was a good size. We ordered an appetizer to share and they served in two plate for us. I ordered the organic lamb and it was cooked to perfection. Would love to go back again for their tasting menu next time.
by Shanzay Thakurdas
one month ago
Best dining experience of my life. Celebrated my boyfriends birthday and graduation with a fantastic fine dining event. I've been wanting to come here for a long time so was really excited when we were seated in the back room with the view of the open kitchen, and it was awesome to see the Owner and executive Chef Simon Wright doing his thing!
Firstly, everything was delicious and because of the price, you didn't want to waste anything - not that you needed too. Prepare to be extremely full and give yourself a decent three hours. We ordered a first, second, third and fourth - a la carte.
Started off with fresh canapés which was a Deep fried corn creamy nugget thing with egg plant sauce. Then some Red wine. After that we had Bagel crumb, cream, Cucumber, smoked salmon powder and dill.
With the first option, I had the Snapper Ceviche,
With the second option, I had the Roasted Quail,
With the third option, I had the Crispy Roast Duck.
With the first option, he had the Smoked Duck breast, with the second option, he had the caramelised pork belly, for the third option he had the Aged beef.
And lastly with the fourth option, we were both so full we shared a Textured Chocolate to which the chefs kindly halved and presented to us on separate plates!
Every single plate was amazing!! No negatives and the staff were on to it, alert, aware of our needs at all times.
The only tiny tiny thing was the crispy roast duck, was served with too much Kumara mash. If there was less, it would have been perfect because after the first two courses: you are finding room for more and you didn't want to waste the food.
one month ago
After dining at the French Cafe, your life may never be the same. Get prepared for your taste buds to experience foodgasm after foodgasm with completely new flavour levels unlocked on your palate. Between two, we divulged on the egg yolk confit, Akaroa salmon, roasted quail, crispy roast duck (chicken is too mainstream these days), textured chocolate and several kindly complimentary condiments. I can't say which was my favourite because every dish heavenly excelled and filled our stomach space to the max. As it should be, the fit out it is elegant and service impeccable, though the waitress wouldn't leave our side until we'd reached the counter to pay (just cause we're not as fancy as their typical customers doesn't mean we're going to do a runner lol) And pricey the bill was; $190 between two including a couple of drinks but well well worth it on occasion.
by Tania Li
one month ago
Literally one of the most amazing places I've ever been. Everything was so delicious and had the right balance of flavours! It's a perfect way to treat yourself for a special event. The complimentary dishes were on another level 👌🏼👌🏼
by Punith Gowda
2 months ago
Memorable dining experience. The French cafe is the best fine dining experience I have had. The food and service is absolutely superb, good ambiance too. From the À la carte I had The Salmon, Lamb and Apple parfait. All the dishes were tasty and beautifully presented.
by Adam Miller
2 months ago
Amazing experience!! Had a private function in their function room out the back with a live chef demonstration. Great wine to accompany. ... pity I was driving
by Stuart Harris
3 months ago
just simply amazing. Delicious food with perfect service. the best thing was actually the bill, much cheaper than I imagined it was going to be!
by Caroline Barrett
3 months ago
After having a meal at The French Cafe you will never be completely satisfied with any other meal in your life. I was blown away and have absolutely no complaints to make. I have never experienced anything quite like this place and for my first fine-dining experience to be here; lets just say it defiantly set the bar very high. This place is absolutely divine! The staff are professional and very educated on the menu/wines, the food is to perfection, the decor is perfection, even the cutlery is perfection. It may be expensive but it is worth every dollar and I'd pay it again anytime!
3 months ago
I had a degustation menu and it was not bad. Some of the dishes for a very salty which overpowered the delicate flavours of cured meats and other delicate ingredients. The place is very noisy which is fine but I could not understand the waiters and had to guess what I was eating. When it costs you your left nut for a meal then you expect it to be absolutely spectacular and I did not believe it was. The grove was better
by Jess Pendergrast
4 months ago
The French Café is ranked as one of Auckland’s top restaurants and I was lucky enough to go to there to celebrate my birthday.
We decided to each order a dish from each course on the Al La Carte menu and share it. First we served complimentary small dishes of fried goats cheese balls with an incredible pumpkin soup and then mini white bait fritters. Both complimentary dishes were incredibly flavoursome and the perfect way to start our night. Next we had our first course which was the smoked duck breast with coffee cream, blueberries, walnuts and kumara ($22) and the snapper ceviche with young coconut, chilli, lime, avocado and puffed rice ($22). Both of these dishes were lovely but the dishes for the rest of the night were definitely more delicious. After our starter we had a complimentary sourdough bread roll with a seaweed butter and a smoked butter which were both really flavoursome.
For our second course we had the roasted quail with wild mushrooms, chestnut, croissant and black truffle ($30) and the akaroa salmon with wakame butter, crayfish, buckwheat and brassica leaves ($30). The salmon was absolutely mouth-watering but the quail was the absolute stand out dish of the night for me. The meat was so tender and simply melted in my mouth. The flavours were perfectly matched.
For the third course we had the aged beef with eggplant, samphire, black garlic, pumpkin and wasabi butter ($46) and the venison loin with preserved cherries, beetroot, celeriac, red wine and liquorice ($46). Both of these dishes were equally delicious and the meats were cooked to perfection.
We then had a palate cleanser of fresh rhubarb, apple and coconut which we both really enjoyed. For dessert we had the textured chocolate with caramelised milk, hazelnut, malt powder and mandarin ($20) and the lemon meringue with passion fruit, blueberries, white chocolate and lavender ($20). No words can describe these desserts, they were both incredible. The chocolate dessert was rich, velvety and probably the best chocolate dessert I have ever had. The lemon meringue was sweet with the perfect amount of tanginess.
Throughout the night I had a couple of glasses of the Mt Edward Pinot Noir ($20) and a delicious cocktail ($18). From the moment you step into The French Café you are treated with the most impeccable service. It is probably the best service I have ever received at a restaurant and it made the night extra special.
The French Café was the perfect place to celebrate my birthday and it’s definitely a night that I won’t forget. If you have something special to celebrate then The French Café is the place to go.
4 months ago
Never had a bad experience at the French Cafe which is why we always look forward to returning. What makes it even more special is the treatment from the wait staff, attentive but not in your face.
Started with the ceviche which was divine. Followed up by the pork belly and crayfish and for the main the duck.
The wine selection is excellent too and you sit not leave without trying the textured chocolate dessert with a port.
Can't wait for our next visit.
by Rebecca MacDonald
4 months ago
There is a reason The French cafe is number 1 in the Metro's top 50 restaurants, it is amazing! I have been lucky enough to come a couple times this year already with work but last night I went along with my sister for a girls dinner out. Each of the three times I have been this year the service has been amazing and consistent, no matter if I have been there as part of a private function, a large group, or just me and my sister.
We were served several complimentary small dishes as well as what we ordered, starting with fried goats cheese balls and salmon paste and then a caramelised french onion soup. Next was the first thing I ordered a delicious pork belly entree and then a hot bread roll with two different homemade butters. The second thing I ordered was the Lamb main which was amazing. We then had a palate cleanser of fresh pineapple and mandarin. For dessert we couldn't choose between the lemon meringue and salted caramel banana so we got one of each and shared. Again amazing!!!
I can't recommend this enough, if you ever want to celebrate something, have a special dinner or just treat yourself book into the French cafe.
4 months ago
Amazing and spectacular service accompanied by an extravagant menu. The atmosphere was superb and all the waiters seemed to know exactly what you needed and when you needed it!
Never a dull moment through the entire dining experience, each and every dish was explained well when questioned and the chef's complimentary bread, broth and palate cleanser were an amazingly generous touch to the meal itself.
Dishes was absolutely brilliant, quality, presentation, taste, textures and smells were of the highest quality I have experienced in New Zealand. Portions are correct for those ordering three course meal- we had two appetizers and two mains, along with matching wines for him and two mock-tails for myself. We genuinely could not fit in dessert as we were so full, probably the only disappointment in our meal.
As others say, always make a booking in advance, but through experience, they will always try their best to accommodate your needs. E.g. they once squeezed me in as they had a cancellation and we were leaving the country the next week. Fast and quick responses via email if you are unavailable to take their call during work hours due to meetings and what not.
Will definitely be returning for years to come.
4 months ago
Fantastic- from booking, to ambience, to the warm welcome and of course the food. All the courses were superb- most especially the snapper on risotto, textured chocolate, venison, and all the free in between courses. Not expensive at all for the quality and experience. Will be a regular here :)
by Elena Ching
4 months ago
Verdict: fine dining at its best and worth every dollar
There's a reason why the French Cafe is booked out months in advance on weekends and even on weekdays, you may not get a table till 8.30pm.
From the moment you step through the doors you are treated to service at its best. They greet you, take your coat and direct you to your table. From politely interrupting you to introduce each dish to discreetly topping up your water or removing your dishes, they have service down to an art form.
We managed to get a booking for their 8.30 seating on a weekday. Located on upper Symonds Street, stepping into the restaurant transports you to a different world. The decor is tasteful and minimalist. The restaurant was full but there was plenty of space between each table so you felt like you had enough privacy.
We had the Set Menu for $140 with canapés which is their degustation menu and ended up having 10 dishes in total including an amuse bouche and a delightful granita as a palate cleanser before dessert.
The food left me wishing that I had a bigger stomach to finish everything on the plate but I had to pace myself in order to get through the menu. Standouts for me were the egg yolk confit and market fish. The bread was also amazing with the herb butter.
I can see why this is arguably New Zealand's top restaurant. I would definitely come back for a special occasion. It doesn't get much better than this.
by Miss Kiki
4 months ago
This is going to be a lengthy review so be warned! It will also be a comparison to 2 other degustation menu's I have had in Auckland.
We dined here on the 19th of June. We booked early May and wanted to dine here June 20th but the were fully booked. So be sure to book far in advance if you want to dine here on a particular day.
We were seated in the first dining area against the wall and I sat on the couch/soft seating. I am usually not hard to please with seating but the seat I think was quite worn and sat on quite a lot that I was constantly sliding off.
The service was good although it felt a bit sterile. We were never asked if we enjoyed anything which I felt was a bit of an arrogant approach to service. My expectations were higher seeing that the French Cafe is the highest rated restaurant here. Also I wouldn't expect exceptional service at every restaurant I dine at but I do expect it here.
The food: I am not going to go in to each course we had as I don't remember the exact description of each. I enjoyed each course but I have to compare to the degustation at The Grove and Meredith's and unfortunately I didn't find The French Cafe better.
I think the style of cooking might not be to my taste. I felt that The Grove and Meredith's type of food is very full of flavour, I had dishes at those 2 places that I will never forget. The French Cafe's food, in my opinion, is not as full of flavour but uses more the natural flavour of the ingredients. I found 2 of the courses overly salty, I love duck but could only eat half of it because it was too salty for me. I'm not sensitive to salt and don't often come across an overly salted dish but paying $140 per person I expect excellence.
Everything was quite good, but nothing wowed me, there was not one dish that I will remember unlike The Grove and Meredith's.
I am giving a 3.5 I wanted to give a 4 but thinking of the expectation vs cost of the meal and experiences at Meredith's and The Grove I decided a 3.5 is fair. My expectations were higher andI was a bit disappointed.
5 months ago
We made the booking on Monday and we successfully got the last table on Tuesday ha ✌🏻
After reading so many good reviews & after having such a great dining experience, I confirm that everybody is telling the truth haha, the food was really creative and well presented! The service, needless to say, unbeatable👍🏻
By the time we finished our last courses, it was 10:30pm something.. no more room for dessert, what a pity!! Next time!
-0.5 for the entrée soup, too salty...
by Krishna Brannigan
5 months ago
Everyone enjoyed every part of their a la carte meals that included two amuse bouche courses and their choice of three courses. Their wasn't an eyelash batted when we chose 3 courses with two couples having entree main dessert and two couples having starter entree main. Perfect timing excellent wines wonderful company and a delightful walk afterwards to settle the very full bellies. If you enjoy excellence in presentation, taste, service and good wine come here!
by Quattro Alas
5 months ago
I seldom go to a fine dine restaurant because I don't really like the formalities but with TFC, it was worth going to.
Really good presentation, service was impeccable, ambiance was great and you get to taste the creativity of the chef. The waiter that served us was really good, as well.
Both my wife and I really enjoyed it.
by Tipsy Nom Nom
5 months ago
Giving this restaurant a review was a huge internal conflict in my mind. I wasn't sure if i had too high of an expectation of the place or if i was there on an unlucky day.
The seating were slightly uncomfortable as i kept sliding forward because the booth cushioning seemed deformed.
Out of 8 of the dishes (including stealing some of my partners meals) i had, i only really enjoyed 3 of them which was the caramelized pork belly which for that alone i would come back for and the 2 desserts we had at the end.
For my first meal i had the egg yolk confit, the base stock already had a salty taste and adding iberico ham to the food even with the egg yolk it was far too salty a flavor to enjoy.
However the service we very well done.
Overall i would not recommend the restaurant as a regular place to come but maybe as an experience as the food is very creative.
5 months ago
The French Café stands out as one of the finest establishments this city has to offer - after all these years it still amazes with every menu change. Simon Wright is the master magician, crafting dishes that are classical yet with a twist of ingenious use of local ingredients - and pulling them off the a standing ovation every time. There's no surprise many of his proteges have gone on to open many of my other favourite Auckland eateries - long live the brilliant magic at the French Café.
by Cherry Lin
6 months ago
It was my birthday dinner, we ordered 9 courses degustation and matching wine. The food was beautifully done, then matching wine were perfectly match the food, each meal comes with different taste and strength wine, which completed the whole meal. Customer services were excellence. We had a great time, highly recommend.
by Epicurious Nomad
6 months ago
I have only been to the French Cafe once - several years ago. The food was exemplary of French cooking. Simon Wright was meticulous in flavour, texture and presentation. Our waiting staff were good - if not a bit over zealous. We had a few too many people serving our table...but that is the style of many Michelin quality restaurants. Every course was outstanding. Very few restaurants would I give 5 points to. Well Done!
by Country Bumpkin
6 months ago
Wow. And again - wow. Amazing service. Fantastic, simple and elegant food. Superb wine list. Wow
6 months ago
The French Cafe is quite simply the best dining experience you can imagine. Exciting, innovative, world class delicious food! Exceptional service. Don't hesitate - it will be a special experience!
by AiJune Lau
6 months ago
Came here for a mid-week dessert date. Amazing! Though we weren't sharply attired, staff were courteous and treated us no different. Great place for beautifully plated and refreshingly different desserts if you are searching for an alternative to Milse. Cheeseboard included a creamy kikorangi and buffalo gouda.
6 months ago
What can I say, this place is absolutely fabulous. Everything I had was just superb and the staff were so attentive. I was a bit sceptical about the rabbit, which I had never eaten before, but it is now one of my favourites. The beetroot tart was also very yummy, not what I eas expecting. Though it is quite pricey, its an excellent choice for any special occassions.
by Joe Roberts
6 months ago
I was expecting a lot of this place and it lived up to the hype. The menu was varied and catered to different types of eaters. We started off with three starters provided on the house which were all fantastic and a great way to get us in to the mood to be a bit adventurous with our ordering. The wine list was on point, with two of my favourites No. 1 and Hans Herzog on the list. And finally, the food. It was brilliant. Amazing flavours and well portioned. The first properly cooked rare piece of meat I've had in a long time. And the team at The French Cafe went above and beyond to look after us. They were friendly, helpful, knew the menu like the back of their hand and always looked happy. I'll definitely be coming back.
by Tane Nui
7 months ago
The French Cafe is simply the best. Dinner last night reminded us why it has won nearly every award there is and is rated #4 by TripAdvisor in the WORLD!!
Service is immaculate, subtle but comforting. Food is stunning, Simon Wright and his team change the menu 3 or 4 times a year and every time we go its like they have just found a better way to make things wonderful.
The perfect way to celebrate something special or to just remind yourself why working hard has its rewards.
by Adam MacLean
7 months ago
What a dining experience! Me and my wife went here as a treat. You know it's going to be good when you have to book 3 months out!
The service is second to none, truly is. The level of service and attention they give you is mind blowing. The food, well you will have to go in and find out for yourself BUT it is the best food we have EVER eaten. Palelet cleansers, and matched wines - just the best.
Be prepared to spend a fair bit, but it is worth it! Can't wait to go back.
by Alan Wakeman
7 months ago
Have some friends visit us from wellington, after decided to have french dinner and found this on Zomato with great reviews so we came to this place. Wonderful and delicious meal, nice presentation and decor. Will definitely recommend my friends to go here.
by Tony Edelsten
8 months ago
I had the joy of visiting this restaurant and I was blown away with the detail in the presentation of the food and the knowledge of the serving staff. They knew with the greatest detail the menu and were happy to share there knowledge with you. This place is a must
by Adrianna Yiu
8 months ago
- The French Cafe review -
Quantity of food: 4* (exceptions)
Quality of food: 10
Price: $$$ (One main meal can range from $20 - $50 depending on the size entree/medium).
Let's just say that normally I wouldn't be going to a fancy place like this BUT thanks to a friend, I did. I have never been to a posh place to eat so this was an experience like no other.
Was AMAZING. Explosions of multiple flavours, richness of the sauces, meat cooked so tender and soft yet still retained flavour.. omnom. We came into the restaurant expecting to pay just for our mains and a dessert, what we got back were 3 extra dishes (butters with bread, mushroom cappachino, lychee crushed ice flavored stomach cleanser dessert) for free courtesy of the chef. The mains portion were small given the price to pay but you'll be surprised at how full you get afterwards on top of the free food.
The waiters did a fantastic job. Always smiling and asking us every so often if we needed anything (the man was so charming it didn't come off as annoying). Even when we took like 10 minuted to decide on a dessert heh.
One of the highlights of the night was finding out the existence of a "golden food scraper". After we finished the main course and plates were cleared, there were a lot of crumbs left on the table - this waiter whisked out a flat golden clip-like thing and started scrapping the food off the table and onto his hand. Never in my life have I seen this gadget before and neither did my friends. We just gazed in awe.
A candlelight on each table, soft lighting, the classical music playing that you can hear but cant recognize the songs, and the hum of people's conversations in the background... Just lovely.
Overall score: 9
Tips: Book a reservation. Dress fancy (although I saw a guy wearing converse and casual clothes - he looked obviously out of place amongst the smart casual clothes everyone else was wearing!). Prepare yourself to stay for a good hour and a half at least (it's so comfortable you don't want to leave).
by Sophie Munro
8 months ago
Absolutely cannot fault this place.
From the food to the drinks to the staff to the decor everything is perfect. Yes, it is pretty pricey, but worth every cent.
We had the summer degustation when we went last October and looking through the different courses I was SURE there would be something I didn't like, but everything was so amazingly well put together I loved all of it!
Can't wait to go back!
by Mrs T
10 months ago
Believe the hype! The food and service is absolutely superb.
I ordered outside my usual comfort level for a couple of reasons, firstly, I wasn't paying and secondly I knew the reputation so figured anything I order would be good.
Off the a la carte menu I chose:
(Starter) Oysters, (Entrée) Goat Cheese Tart, (Main) Duck - under normal circumstances I'm the steak, fish or pork belly girl! Everything was amazing and I did not get food envy from other people in my group though all the food looked divine and everyone commented to that effect.
I had the intention to have dessert but couldn't fit it in!
The feel of the restaurant is very smart and relaxed so I didn't feel intimidated by it being too flash or posh for me for when I come along again with hubby or friends.
I knew the bill would be expensive, however the total wasn't as big as the figure I had in my mind. I will definitely be back sooner rather than later.
by Alexandra Ingram
10 months ago
The atmosphere, the staff, the menu, the speed of food delivery amazing. The food looks and tastes AMAZING. This is my go to fine dining. Love love love it :)
by Judith Cheyne
Nov 28, 2014
An amazing experience. Had their degustation meal, an experience everyone should have at least once in their life or at least once each year. Food was amazing, with combinations that you'd never thought could work.Keep up the awesome work.Can't wait to visit again.
Nov 21, 2014
Nov 21, 2014
this is a magic place, we were suprised how good it was! delicious food, drinks and good personell. we spent around 4 hours there and could have stay longer
by Amy @ My Dining Journey
Nov 18, 2014
I love when friends come visit, especially when I know they enjoy good food as much as I do. So whenever they head to Auckland, one of our must do activities is dine out. This time, we decided to enjoy a contemporary French dinner at the French Cafe. Recently voted #4 in Tripadvisor Travellers' Choice Best Restaurant of 2014, we came with high expectations. It's not our first time at French Cafe, we've had their degustation menu over the years, but this time, we decided to pick our dishes through a la carte.
My entree of Akaroa salmon and langoustine was a good start. The langoustine has a delicate sweet flavour and was exceptionally fresh. The salmon was flaky and wrapped in a thin piece of kombu. The final addition of dashi provided an aromatic umami flavour but was too savoury for my liking. I would have preferred this dish without the broth.
For my main, I tried the crispy roast duck which was highly recommended by reviews online. The duck leg coated with a thin layer of sweet spice has a crispy outer skin but the inside lacked the same amount of flavour. Creamy kumara mash paired with a steamed brocollini and mandarin puree, a typical accompaniment, tasty but not exceptional.
After a quick fruity palate cleanser, we were ready for our desserts. The poached rhubarb with white chocolate gelato, meringue and fresh raspberries was a stunner. The tartness of the raspberries neutralised the sweetness from the meringue and white chocolate and the poached rhubarb was exquisite. The Textured Chocolate dessert is a staple in the French Cafe menu. Incorporating various textures in the same dish, the flavours of caramelised milk, hazelnut, malt powder and mandarin is a typical creation.
Being seated at 8:45PM, we knew it was going to be a long night. Yet, the service throughout was immaculate. Our waiter was always smiling, even when we got a little rowdy. Our water was constantly topped up and our table was cleared in a timely manner. You can see why they won the Metro Best Service Award this year and the three years before that. However, my friends and I were disappointed in the food. Although the meal is of high quality, we expected so much more from this award winning restaurant. I expected something creative and witty; food that makes you want to come back for more. It was a good meal but not an unforgettable experience. Maybe I should try my luck here again next year!
by Sananda Chatterjee
Nov 14, 2014
Just bloody wonderful! Every time I have been here - I have been blown away - with food, staff, ambience!
Although it takes a bit of $$, it is totally worth it!
Nov 08, 2014
Food is amazing but very expensive. But I guess its the cost of fine dining. Service is great. They were happy to answer specific questions.the duck was a little dry but everything else was awesome
Nov 03, 2014
Bit disappointed in this long-established foodie haven. Five ladies for lunch with the service too slow for us to get in a dessert before the school run although we started at 12.30. The ambience was nice, service charming. My starter of oysters with melon caviar - disappointing - would have preferred them au natural in the shell like the table next door. Main course of snapper was OK - fish slightly overdone which we found surprising and everything came garnished with the same thinly sliced radish - the fish, the amuse bouche, and the oysters. One of the girls had the deboned-quail and it was deliciously rich and the portion just right. Resented paying $36 for 3 bottles of water. Newly back in Auckland and there are many places to try. Will wait awhile before returning.
by Kathleen Joyce-Reweti
Oct 25, 2014
Amazing amazing food with different flavours and texture. Definately have to make it a goal to go back Atleast once a year. Service was great
Oct 19, 2014
Wow just Wow....
I do not think there is one thing I can mention as a issue for the French Cafe.. Ok, maybe the location is not the best..
Food is divine, Service is Fantastic and they truly know how to treat customers. Our waiter was fantastically helpful and full of recommendations for wine and food matches
Yes the cost is on the higher side, but saying that I never pay a tip in restaurants in New Zealand... But I did here.!
by Life As A Mutt
Oct 08, 2014
The French Cafe is ranked as one of Auckland’s best restaurants, and is certainly one of the most expensive. When I first arrived in Auckland I promised myself that once I found a job, I would reserve a table and eat there. Their waiting list was eight weeks long, so eight weeks after being employed I finally entered this revered restaurant. On this blustery, cold, day we were greeted by the friendly doorman and led into the dining area. I immediately appreciated a small, but significant touch. The dining area was located far away from the entrance. It meant that we were protected from the cold drafts, that would inevitably invade when people entered or exited. I’d been in far too many cold restaurants as of late, so the warmth was appreciated! The interior of the restaurant was simple and downplayed, yet elegant. It’s exactly the motif I like, as opposed to lavish and extravagant. The waiters were extremely helpful and knowledgeable and were happy to explain The French Cafe's menu. The tasting menu was recommended, though we went for the al a carte in order to try a greater breadth of dishes. We chose two items from each course:
First: Snapper ceviche and Duck confit
Second: Caramelised pork belly and Roasted goats cheese
Third: Boneless lamb and Aged beef
Fourth: Cheese board and Poached rhubarb
The three complimentary dishes, which came between each course, were a lovely surprise. Keep in mind the menu at The French Cafe is seasonal, so regularly changes. It certainly gives you incentive to come back! We also ordered a couple of cocktails to wet our tongues.
The First's the snapper ceviche was disappointing, considering how highly the waiter recommended it. It was light and fresh, but the flavour lacked any punch and it was under salted. The duck was more pleasant, the meat incredibly tender and the berries adding a fruity note. Luckily the dinner kept on getting better.
The Second was a far more enjoyable affair. The pork belly skin was wonderfully crunchy with a nice balance of fat, skin and meat. The sprinkle of black pudding was a unique touch and was a great way to introduce my friend to the concept of blood as a cooking ingredient. The cheese in the goat's cheese tart was phenomenal. I'm a big fan of goats cheese and this was truly special. The beetroot tart provided a delicate back drop for the cheese. What a brilliant dish. Yet the best was still to come.
Thirds was the boneless lamb and aged beef. I can't describe the meat as anything other than perfection. We were both speechless about how good it tasted. The meat was so tender, so full of flavour that I could do nothing but sit silently and savour each and every bite. I was memorised.If you visit the The French Cafe I would implore you to order one of these two dishes! By this point I had an amazing evening and it hadn't even finished yet.
The Fourth featured a cheese board and a rhubarb crumble. The cheeses were all French imports and were stunning in their intensity and depth of flavour and aroma. French cheese always wins baby! The rhubarb was slightly disappointing. Good rhubarb has a balance of tart and sweet, but this rhubarb had neither. It was serviceable,with only the fantastically tart raspberries saving the dish.
The rest of the meal; the cocktails and complimentary courses were mostly excellent. They included pumpkin soup with mango foam and fresh bread with home made butter. The cocktails were crisp and light. The courses were perfectly portioned so that we were satisfied, yet wanting. The seven course dinner took over three hours to complete, so it's highly recommend you bring good company, which I was lucky enough to have!
From start to finish the experience at The French Cafe was exceptional. It was everything that should be expect of a high class restaurant. The food was phenomenal, the atmosphered relaxed yet sophisticated, the staff superb.Yes, it's incredibly expensive but its also an exquisitely crafted experience which you need to try at least once.
Read more food reviews at:
by Rachael Claudette
Aug 24, 2014
Named one of the best restaurants in Auckland, so I had to try it out.
Took a while to get a booking to suit but I guess that's to be expected.
Giving them enough notice, they were more than happy to cater to my vegan needs, which gave them big point in my book.
The restaurant itself was nicely decorated, I really liked a lot of the wall art. The staff were knowledgeable and formal (but you'd expect that)
For an upmarket restaurant in NZ, it is 100% what you would imagine it to be, not amazing, but still very enjoyable.
I personally was underwhelmed by my main of risotto, I'm no chef, but I've made tastier ones. it was also over seasoned, very salty.
Even though I wasn't overly impressed with my main, I enjoyed the experience here. I would go again (I wouldn't have the risotto though)
by Roohi Taneja
Jun 18, 2014
Had read the rave reviews and been wanting to call in for the longest time. Finally had the opportunity to take eight out for dinner and The French Cafe was my pick – and what a beauty pick it was! Everyone was highly impressed with the ambiance, staff and (most definitely) the food – and all have said they’d return. – so very innovative, not to mention delicious.
by Carol Hiku
Jun 18, 2014
It doesn't at all surprise me that when I come to the page of The French Cafe, I see so many 5-star reviews. I've dined in enough restaurants globally to be qualified to say that The French Cafe is second to none that I have tried so far. The service is knowledgeable and helpful. The plates are impeccable and take your taste buds on an amazing journey through each complex layer of food that is served to you.
The price is fitting (although when I first saw the price points, I thought they were taking the pi$$ - they are not). The wine list is extensive and the prices do vary, so you don't need to be buying bottles which are north of $80 to quench your thirst.
There is parking close by, the toilets were clean and the decor is simple.
The French Cafe is a very special place to dine, perfect for special occasions and I can't wait to go again (hint hint James, if you are reading this)!
Jun 02, 2014
I personally love this place! I have never been disappointed after a meal at the French Cafe. A real dining experience. Staff are fantastic, ambiance is enchanting and the Chefs work like well oiled machines. Yes, it's expensive but worth every dollar. You get to try foods you would never get the chance to make at home. French Cafe is top of the list in my books.
by The Incredible Edible
May 30, 2014
This place has been named in Metro Restaurant of the year a lot
In 2013 it won Supreme Winner – Restaurant of the Year 2013, Best Fine Dining, Best Chef and Best Service. And since it was getting some rave reviews we had to try this place out ourselves
We love our degustations and this is a great way to try the chefs best dishes - definitely the way to go if you are going to French Cafe.
For further details and photos the full review is on: http://theincredibleediblelifeofstephandmike.blogspot.co.nz/2014/01/cafe-francais.html
Go here for a special occasion as it is an expensive treat
by Lisa Borrie
Apr 27, 2014
A little pretentious in its atmosphere. The meals are well presented and definitely lovely although a little over rated in my opinion. I have been to other restaurants that have plated up dishes of equal flavour...perhaps not with the elaborate technique but this reflects the price tag. I would not race back but would recommend to those who like fine dining.
by Imperius Malekith
Mar 04, 2014
The food was the best food I've eaten in my life, especially the 1st course & dessert, hence the 5 stars. The wait time in between each course was far too long for my tastes, took 2 hours to finish our food. The prices for everything are also very high, but worth it.
by Heather Craig
Feb 21, 2014
We have just enjoyed a meal (lunchtime menu) at this restaurant and having tried many restaurants in this country consider it to be the best place to dine in New Zealand. A bonus was the French waiter whose service was 'impeccable' and who in our opinion could be easily employed in a 3* Michelin in France. We live most of the year in Europe and have tried many of the great restaurants especially in France, Belgium and London. This restaurant compares favourably with a 1* or 2* Michelin in these countries. Our only criticism would be the absence of the very important petits fours with coffee which is de rigeur in any of the starred continental restaurants now. We are hoping that there will be a little something with our coffee on our next visit...
by Chris Baldock
Feb 20, 2014
There is not much that needs to be said about this restaurant, other than that it is sublime.
Like religious zealouts, my wife and I have made an annual pilgrimage to Simon Wright's citadel of culinary delights.
While you will pay for the experience (perfection does not come cheap), be prepared for exceptional and unpretentious service, and briliantly executed dishes.
We have eaten in Michelin Star restaurants in Manhattan and London and can confidently say that this is our favourite eatery.
Sep 30, 2013
Amazing food and service that is second-to-none!
Thoroughly enjoyed the tasting menu... each dish flowed well on to the next and you could really taste the freshness of the food.
Would happily pay $140 per person to sample all the dishes again (8 courses, but 10 if you include the complements from the chef). It is certainly worthwhile if you like to taste a little bit of everything... and walk out feeling more than satisfied but not overly full. They are also very accommodating in changing or altering the dishes if you have particular dislikes. I changed my quail dish to a vegetarian that was one of the chef's signature dishes. Flavoursome and delish!
Aug 23, 2013
First time at the French Cafe...I can now tick it off the list. Had 4 courses...stand outs was the oysters and confit duck leg which I have always wanted to try...however the kicker was the kumara and tangerine purée that accompanied the dish...each mouth full I closed my eyes and could have happily gone to sleep...the thing that sets the French Cafe apart is the waiting staff...attention to detail flawless...I dropped my napkin, without asking it was replaced within 10 seconds...you well deserved your tip...thanks French Cafe
by Simon Pheonix
Aug 01, 2013
So I finally had the chance to make time and try out the 'number 1' restaurant in Auckland - voted by Metro for so many years in a row.
First impressions - place was nice, quiet, and it actually didn’t feel like you were on the rough side of town on Symond Street. It was a little dark but I guess it’s considered 'mood lighting'.
We ordered a 4 course meal. The food was brilliant and had alot of flavour. Great presentation, great wine options, great service.
I went to celebrate my partners birthday and they surprised us with a little birthday treat along with our dessert order. Sadly the birthday treat came out looking very tacky and they spelt birthday incorrectly 'birtday'. Big time fail.
The dessert presentation and flavour is lacking as they are clearly in pain once their Head Pastry chef left to open up Milse in britomart.
Also in alignment with @SoyoungC feedback, we too noticed the random sand flies in the restaurant.
Overall great place to try, great food, a few flaws and not as bullet proof as I imagined. Not in any rush to try again.
by Soyoung Choi
Jul 11, 2013
I dine out at this restaurant several times a year. My experience this time was not up to the level i have had. There was a little bug floating in my wine glass to start with. I told the waiter serving us this. He took my glass away and brought it back within 10seconds. The bug was gone. I was unhappy but did not make a complaint as i did not want to spoil our dinner on my partner's birthday. Very disappointing. It tarnished all the good experience so far. My second course was a quail dish. Perfectly presented but one of two chestnuts was not fresh. The green salad was quite bitter with too much red cabbage. A bit of sweet touch i.e. dates might have weakened the bitterness. Overall three courses were a lot saltier than i could enjoy. With the experience this time i would not rush to come back here any time soon.
by Tiffany Cater
Apr 18, 2013
The French Cafe is a dining experience I will never forget, and I hope to be back again one day. We went for my husband's birthday as it was his choice and he had only heard wonderful things.
We were not disappointed at all. The menu was laid out exquisitely, while not vast, it catered for everyone's needs and wants.
I highly recommend the Spanner Crab Risotto as a starter which was a taste explosion like no other, for an entree I had the egg yolk ravioli (stunning) and main was the snapper (delectable).
The wine we chose was French and it was SUPERB!!!!! The waiting staff were attentive and refilled our glasses when needed.
I didn't have dessert as the three courses were more than adequate. This is a where you go for a top quality gastronomic experience, not a belt strainer meal.
LOVE LOVE LOVED IT !!!! Could not be faulted at all. Excellent does not cover our dining experience here.
Mar 15, 2013
The French Cafe is the pre-eminent fine dining experience in New Zealand. I have eaten the 11 course tasting menu several times and it is always spectacular. The wine matches were the best I've had and the staff are very knowledgable and attentive. If you want an amazing culinary experience and expense is not a factor you must dine here
by Sylvia Philcox
Nov 07, 2012
Service was fantastic (felt like a princess) and food was delicious, an explosion of tastes! My partner and I had the 6 course degustation meal with some fine cocktails to accompany them with. I thoroughly enjoyed how they explained what we were eating once we received it and the general etiquette.
Recommended to all. Just be prepared for the big bill at the end!
Sep 17, 2012
Having failed to secure a booking two years ago on our wedding anniversary (we hadn't realised how popular it was), I booked weeks in advance of our 30th. After reading lots of reviews online, I had a few minor concerns, but they turned out to be groundless. Right from when we stepped in the door, the service was attentive and friendly, yet not at all intrusive. Glasses were refilled just when they needed to be, and each course arrived at exactly the right time. As for the food - it was simply the best we've ever enjoyed: very tasty, delightfully presented and a superb culinary experience!
I couldn't understand criticisms of seating and decor, as both were perfectly acceptable. From where we were seated we could see the chefs beavering away in the kitchen, and they seemed to be relaxed and happy.
My wife asked me last night if we could make The French Cafe a regular anniversary experience, and I was only too pleased to agree with her.
Aug 24, 2012
French Cafe is often named No.1 in Auckland and my three visits over two years to this restaurant have had moments of brilliance mixed with disappointment. The best from a 2012 meal of 9 courses had featured superb seared duck and an exquisite ballotine of quail. The Tasting menu hasn't changed by much now but a rustic-chic courtyard and a private hall where the chief chefs will specially cook for your party, are the new attractions. Service remains smooth and high-quality but for better vigilance, more staff (and higher bills) will have to enter the fray. Egg yolk Confit, nature's own spherification with only a little help from man, juxtaposes two other repositories of umami: potato and mushroom- interesting but not outstanding. "Lobster en Papillote" a summer dish now gone (its appearance on opening the parcel was terrible) had succulent lobster which unfortunately lacked sweet essence - none of the other seafood here wowed me, including the ho-hum poached shellfish. If the restaurant wants to remain proudly French, it better make a good sauce to go with the heft of the mains.Simon Wright prefers to serve de-boned beautifully sculpted and plated meat but the lamb, though tender and having zero gaminess, lacked flavour. The game changer for the evening was risotto comprised by brunoised celeriac with myriad savoury and creamy persuasions - a triumph of technique and taste.Desserts have never disappointed: lusciously ripe vanilla panacotta was perfectly contrasted with an almond crisp, while lavender icecream nuzzled a rich brioche crowned with sauce-drenched plums and cherries.Tariffs in NZ$ - $30 for appetizers, $46 for main course, and $20 for desserts. F.C is an asset for Auckland but will need to step it up for reaching world-class brilliance.For photos, http://www.upnworld.com/restaurant/view/id/47/title/French+Cafe+II+
by Vivien Hii
Aug 16, 2012
I will definitely be happy to come back any day. This is one of the best restaurants I've been to. Superb food and service. The waiter was very attentive to our needs and the food is just to die for. We had a la carte and it was very satisfying
by Jo D
Mar 27, 2012
Superb. Amazing. I honestly can't fault anything at The French Cafe - amazing food, wine list, service & atmosphere.
I love it here & can't wait for a special occasion so that I can go back! Would highly recommend.
Mar 27, 2012
Just superb from start to finish.
My partner and I both had the 9 course chefs menu. Every plate was a treat, and the wine matched perfectly.
Service was spot-on, the waitress was very friendly and polite.
by Jeanette M
Feb 13, 2012
My partner and I ate at the French Cafe in the weekend and enjoyed the food and the service except to say that we both thought our mains were very salty and the sauces were overwhelming. We both had the bombe alaska dessert which was okay but felt cheated because it had tiny wee cold soft meringue peaks stuck on it instead of having a nice meringue on top which is cooked in the oven so must have been prepared earlier and just lacked that special wow factor. The service was faultless and perhaps a bad night with the sauces but for the price we paid it should have been better.
by Lauren Grigor
Nov 07, 2011
Definitely the place to come for a very special occasion. My partner and I split an entree, had a main each, 3 cocktails between us and a lager - came to just under $200. Not bad for the quality however the portion sizes were on the small side. I have to say that the atmosphere was a little bit uncomfortable; despite being from a fine dining background, my partner and I (both early 20s) did feel a little out of place and were almost too scared to share a joke
by Georgia Obrien
Sep 08, 2011
Went here with my husband for dinner. Food was top notch and service was very attentive indeed. I can see why this place has won so many awards ....it really is first class! It is not cheap but well worth it for those special occasions.
by Whoa Nelly
Jun 10, 2011
If you ever get the chance of eating at The French Cafe, take it and then hang in there for a truly amazing culinary experience.
Such an absolute pleasure to be able to eat here, and you should do so, at least once in your lifetime. I cannot fault The French Cafe on anything, impecciable service, clean lines, comfortable surroundings and the food for me is pure, magical delight.
by Love Food
Apr 13, 2011
A double celebration found us enjoying the perfect delights of the French Cafe.
The meal started with a complimentary pumpkin and trufle soup, we then enjoyed a range of other courses, sharing from each others plates became quite necessary - such was the appearance and refined tastes of what was before us. The highlight for myself was a first course of eel servced with caramelised apple, pancetta and micro cress - The description does the dish insufficient justice, the taste is sublime!
The French Cafe have a service team that are chosen for their personality and then clearly have a thorough training - because its rare we receive this level of service in New Zealand.
Speaking to my wife afterwards, we have decided we'd like to live there - permanently
----- 29 Nov, 2009 -----
Having eaten at The french Cafe at least six times in the last 10 months - What can we say that hasn't been said by so many reviewers over the years.
The reason we keep going back is The French Cafe is a rare jewel in the NZ dining scene, a sophisticated restaurant that can do what it does so very well in any country, not just NZ.
For first class food, service and a lovely wine list that is one of the best bargains in Auckland. Just go!
by Julie Schooler
Mar 26, 2011
Six of us decided to splash out and have the 10 course degustation meal, with four of us having matching wines.
The French Cafe exceeded every and all high expectations we had. The food was superb (I still think about that scallop and pork belly dish, a few weeks later). It was brought out all at the same time and with the right amount of time between servings. It goes without saying that the matched wines were perfect.
The service was outstanding. One of the party that is permanently on crutches noticed that as he made his way to the bathroom, waiters in his vicinity would open all the doors between our table and the bathroom before he even had a chance to request them to.
Overall, an amazing experience and if you have the urge to splurge, I highly recommend to visit the best in the business, the French Cafe.
Mar 08, 2011
great food~ a la carte or 6 course tasting or 11 course degustation, take your pick, am lucky to check-in more than once within short timeframe so am glad the kitchen is flexible to swap my degustation dishes against the standard menu on offered to my dining companion. Service is professional yet friendly without being snooty or cold like some wannabe establishments. Definitely the best value for money fine dining in southern hemisphere, if you've dined at Sydney Tetsuya and/or Quay you know what i mean.
Jan 24, 2011
Everyone raves about this restaurant so maybe I'm just hard to please or my expectations were too high but I found our night at the French Cafe a bit disappointing. Sure the service was good and so was the food but a few things could have been much better. Some of our party were given chopsticks with which to eat oysters and scallops out of the shells - why? As far as I know oysters/scallops aren't Asian dishes and our group was not Asian nor do we like to eat with chopsticks - we used the main course knives/forks provided. My (and another of our group) meals were served in large bowl type plates and the knife and fork kept slipping into the food when we put them on the plate to take a drink of winr or water - quite annoying. The 7 of us were squashed onto a too small table - there was limited space for the large plates being used and the array of glasses so we had to continually juggle where to put things down. I asked for the whitebait starter (all starters $16) and was informed by the waiter that it was a small portion (1 whitebait biscuit with sauce and garnish) and did I want an entree (all $26) sized portion - I was charged $32 for this course which consisted of simply the starter with one extra whitebait biscuit; I thought this a bit cheeky. The 3 men at the table had the wagyu beef main - it was good but the sauces and artichokes overpowered the meat taste and it was too salty towards the end; the portions were very small - we all agreed it didn't match a nice eye fillet from the BBQ at home. Probably BBQ'd wagyu would be great. The wine was very good and the wine matching suggestions from the waiter were perfect - the wine was probably the best part of the night but at $15-19 a glass it should be. However, $9 for a very ordinary bottle of Heinekin in a fancy glass,(available for under $2 at the supermarket or wholesale)is simply profiteering in my view.
Nov 28, 2010
Stunning, nothing more to say!
by David Boshier
Oct 12, 2010
The very best restaurant in New Zealand.
Save up, get dressed up and have the degustation with the matching wines.
Top quality food and service that can not be beaten.
by Justine Green
Sep 15, 2010
We had the 6 course menu with recommended wines and it was wonderful!! We will certainly be going back.
by Abigail Denton
May 20, 2010
I have dined at The French Cafe several times over the past few years, and I have yet to be disappointed in anyway what-so-ever. It simply has the best food in Auckland - tasting, looking, quantity & style. The staff are professionals and it comes across. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves good food.
by Tony Buckingham
Feb 05, 2010
Restaurants come and go but great ones are always consistent. I took three guests we all had different 3 courses and each felt they had the best.
Always up there in the top three a great experience we ensure we eat there every visit.
I give it 5 stars and I am not generous with my last one superb
Dec 07, 2009
AMAZING!!! GO THERE! (but make sure you book ahead!) Eat, drink and don't worry about how much it has cost you because its that good, it doesn't matter ;)
by The Guppy
Nov 24, 2009
had the degustation here with matching wines. totally blew my mind. hours and hours of bliss!
by Rebecca Heslop
Aug 19, 2009
Absolutely stunning food. Amazing service too. Worth the money and definitely try the degustation menu!
Aug 13, 2009
best food ive ever tasted in my life went in the summer and it was very hot and stuffy and sweating while eating our food asked to have the air con turned on but was told it was but it didnt feel like it, the waiter was strange and hung around for a tip afterwards
Jan 20, 2009
Have been to the French Cafe twice and had the degustation menu both times. The food is to die for and the service is the best in Auckland. Worth every penny - book at least 3 months ahead!
by Sophie Gao
Sep 12, 2008
Fantastic place to dine, formal yet laid back atmosphere. The food is divine, the service is good and the deserts are amazing! Definitely try this place out, you will not be disappointed.
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