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O' Connell St. Bistro

4 star rating 22 reviews

Restaurant location map

09 3771884

3 O' Connell Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Cuisine:
  European
Hours:
11:30 AM to 3 PM, 5:30 PM to 10 PM (Mon-Fri), 5:30 PM to 12 Midnight (Saturday), Sunday Closed

Photos

Reviews for O' Connell St. Bistro

2 star rating
by Taste9
10 days ago

After looking forward to the evening we were  disappointed with the very slow service.  We waited 50 minutes after being seated to receive attention from a waiter to take our wine and food selection.  The food however once we received it was delicious.  it was a pity that their customer service let them down on this occasion.

4 star rating
by David Parussini
2 months ago

Finally dined here for the first time (on a Sat evening) and overall a pleasant experience, however a little underwhelming..my friend enjoyed his octopus carpaccio and veal and I found the rabbit pappardelle and beef fillet tasty without being drop-dead exceptional..maybe I'm being too picky? The servings could have been slightly bigger at these price points and the spacing between the tables too intimate. Service was pleasant and unobtrusive.
Yes, deserves the 4 stars, however would try other establishments first before returning again.

5 star rating
by Eugene John
3 months ago

Popped in for lunch the other day. This is a regular haunt for us and this is easily one of the best restaurants in Auckland and so consistent in its food and service. The wine list is - in my humble opinion - the best in Auckland.

5 star rating
by Pocketfullofdreams
4 months ago

We wanted to go somewhere special to celebrate a few special occasions in the family and I had wanted to go here for awhile, so it seemed like the perfect occasion.

The restaurant is cosy and intimate but a lovely surrounding. The service was superb we never wanted for anything during the meal.

The food was amazing, I had a vegetarian main which is an unusual choice for me but I love goats feta and it didn't disappoint. For dessert in accordance with my current fixation, I had a salted caramel mousse and it was divine.

If you are looking for a place for a special dinner out, I definitely recommend considering O'Connell St Bistro.

5 star rating
by Dave
4 months ago

Been here a few times and just love the food, always the hardest part is deciding what to have. Highly recommend going here to everyone, local or not, it's worth a night or lunch out. Staff are always amazing and know their stuff also. Worth six stars.

5 star rating
by Tessa Bailey-Lont
8 months ago

This place is one of my favourites, nice hearty dishes, flavours were perfect and had atmosphere to match.

5 star rating
by Janak
9 months ago

I have been here for dinner on Wednesday night, pretty full but somehow they managed to get a table for me!
In very short words service is outstanding
Wine list is great
FOOD is outstanding
And they know how to make Martini! !
My one of the favourite place! !

4 star rating
by Gus
Sep 02, 2013

We had dinner on a Saturday night, predictably the place was full. I started with the steak tartare which was excellent. The fish of the day was hake (unusual choice, probably not my first choice but I do really love hapuka...) panfried and served with a scampi risotto and beurre blanc sauce which was very nice indeed. Around the table the other dishes which stood out were the scallop entree and the enormous chicken liver terrine, the duck and venison mains looked very tasty. The wine list was good although we were recommended a rojas by our waiter which failed to hit any high notes, the other bottles were excellent. On the whole service was tidy although we were served two incorrect desserts which shouldn't happen at this level. All in all a very nice dining experience, I don't know why I just expected a little more

4 star rating
by Jason
Aug 11, 2013

The food and service was very good. The owner was very nice and chatted with customers constantly to make sure they were happy. We were so impressed that we even hired the place for a private function which turned out great. The only reason I didn't give it the 5 stars was when our large group ordered coffees it took longer to get the coffees than the meals. Eventually we had to cancel some of the coffee orders cause we had to leave. Would definitely come again but in smaller numbers =)

4 star rating
by Trang Tran
Jul 26, 2013

The food is good and the presentation is great as well. Just a bit pricey.

5 star rating
by Trace
Jul 25, 2013

O’Connell Street, High Street, Vulcan lane and the adjoining end of Shortland street, boast some of the few older buildings within Auckland City. On the corner of O’Connell and Shortland street lives that Auckland institution, O’Connell Street Bistro, neatly perched to serve the business people, lawyers and various other moneyed in sundry, that frequent the local area. They serve classic bistro fare, with a few Italian dishes thrown in. Mains range in price from about 35-48 dollars. There is a tasting menu as well.

The Room

The bistro itself is divided into two rooms. One is a small bar. The other is a dining room, which is also small and cozy. Anachronistic in feel, the walls are covered with artwork, tables close together to make the most of the small space, adorned with odd phallic lamps, that bring a mixture of unease and intimacy. I have been there a few times and always in winter, the dining room has been warm, perhaps somewhat stuffy. The tables are close together in order to maximise their covers. While not altogether unpleasant and certainly sophisticated, the cramped conditions never seem ideal. Not all restaurants can spoil their patrons with room and privacy, O’Connell Street Bistro I think runs the edge of the boundary. Your neighbour’s conversations often infuse your own. The room is kept dark and so is somewhat gloomy. However it is not without its charms, nice artwork and details, not withstanding penis lamps, do distinguish it.

The Service

I have never found the service particularly good. It tends on the stiff and formal side of things. The wait staff never quite seem that friendly. The service is often patronising and formulaic. I have found this on repeated occasions. For example the staff thought it was necessary to explain that the Crayfish was from Coromandel, which was fine, but then explained that Coromandel was a peninsula that was a couple hours drive south of Auckland, or when they deemed it necessary to tell us all about the Bluff oyster and then explain they were harvested in the South Island. These are minor problems of course, nothing was disastrous, but I mention this because it is obvious that they are trying for excellent service. Even if it must be overly formal, the need to treat the customers like idiots is beyond me. At the very least talking to the customer would have revealed very quickly that we did not need to have it explained to us where Coromandel was or that there was this thing called a bluff oyster that we may not have heard of. Having said this, when we did receive a dish that was below standard they did not charge us for it and removed it without question. I would say the service is alright, but the formalism I think gets in the way and as a result it can seem a little unfriendly and cold. It is interesting to compare to the service at Kazuya, which is also very formal, but it feels much more personalised and less scripted, which is partly why O’Connell Street Bistro’s service feels less than it could be. They are trying, but perhaps a little hard.

The Food

The food is on the whole excellent. The food is in the style of classic Bistro cooking, as a result it is tradition bound in comparison to some of the other fine dining restaurants around. I will discuss a few specific dishes and then discuss the food more generally.

Vitello Tunnato – This is a classic Italian dish of veal cut thinly served cold with a mayonnaise and tuna fish sauce. If you have not had it, it may sound a little odd, but it is one of those combinations that just seems to work. The O’Connell Street version was pretty standard. The veal was served rare and was delicate in flavour. The mayonnaise was smooth and not heavily flavoured with fish. It was also served with potato chips. That is deep fried thin slices of potato. This was not really a technical dish, but the trick of Italian food is not to push complexity and flavours too far. The only real addition was another sauce, which added some piquant flavours, but given it is quite normal to contrast the veal with capers for example this mad a lot of sense. In this I think the dish succeeded admirably.

Leek Terrine – The leek terrine was probably the most interesting dish on the menu. It was paired with goats cheese and a few other components. Eating cold leeks with some cheese, does not perhaps seem that exciting of a dish. However I have to say this was not only clever, but delicious. Serving cold leek is difficult and I am not totally sure how the dish was executed, but they had vibrant flavour, slightly sweet and offsetting the lovely, somewhat sharp cheese. Excellent combination of flavour and texture.

Chicken Liver Parfait – I have no picture of this sadly, but it was probably the best parfait I have had. Served very pink, with plenty of mediera, it was sweet, impossibly smooth and deeply flavoured. It was served with a celeriac remoulade, which was equally good. This seems to remain on their menu pretty constantly and with good reason. I would say it is worth going there pretty much to just try the parfait.

I also tried a few of the other dishes, the oysters (reliably good), scallops (also excellent). In generally I would say they that all of the entrees were superbly cooked and flavoured. The only dish I have been slightly less than impressed with have been the veal sweet breads. I love sweetbreads, but I generally cook lamb, because I can only get veal frozen. Sweetbreads are normally blanched (in court bouillon) and then cooked again into dishes. The blanching process removes a lot of their organ flavour. It also should imparts some of the flavour of the court bouillon, so they should be pleasantly imbued with the aromatics in the bouillon. I will discuss this more when I get to mains, but I have found them underwhelming in this. Their texture is excellent, but they always seem a little flavourless to me.

Beef Cheek, Mash, Glazed Carrot, Onions and Veal Sweetbreads - Technically the dish was next to faultless. The beef cheek was perfectly braised, unctuous and deeply flavoured. The flavour of the cheek, still holds strongly in my memory. It reminded me of dry aged beef, in its complex and slightly musty flavour. Beef cheek is always well flavoured, but this was particularly exceptional in that regard. The sauce was complex, free of fat and delicious. My favourite element however were the onions, with a moist almost gelatinous interior and sweet flavour seemed a wonderful accompaniment with the beef. They were both sympathetic in texture and contrasting in flavour. Served atop the beef cheek, were deep fried sweetbreads. I like the concept here, most of the other components, the beef cheek, vegetables and potato were all softer textures, the sweetbreads, with their crumbed coating provided contrasting textures. My only complaint as I alluded to above, is I think the sweetbreads lacked any real flavour. Both my encounters with sweetbreads at O’Connell Street have seemed that way. The technical elements of the dish were good, but together, while delicious, it was less impressive than some of the other dishes I had.


Venison, Hazelnut Gnocchi, Brussel Sprouts and Cranberry – Another truly excellent dish. The venison well matched with its accompaniments, was tender and perfectly cooked (I’m guessing sous vide given the moistness and very thin crust around the edges). The sauce was excellent, clean and complementary. Of particular worthy mention were the hazelnut gnocchi, which were cooked and then crisped on two sides. They had a great texture, light, but with some bite from the seared exterior. These were potentially the highlight of the dish. It combined several great conceptual features, highly textured, great balance of flavours and refinement of technique.


Ossobuco – I love ossobuco, It is another classic Italian dish, of braised veal shin. The previous versions that I have made and eaten are light of flavour. Unlike a French style braise, the broth used to flavour the ossobuco is lighter than french stocks in intensity, but is made with more meat than bones, so the dish is a little less heavy normally, but still broadly flavoured. White wine is also the primary flavour in the braising liquid other than the mirepoix and broth. There are versions of ossobuco, that use red wine as well, although this is less common. The version that I had at O’Connell Street Bistro was flavoured with red wine and made in a more french style, with a brown stock base, rather than blond. The sauce was thick and sticky and not as light as a normal Italian version. It was served on mash potatoes. I do love the traditional Italian version, however this was still an excellent dish, far more reminiscent of a French braise however, deeply coloured and intensely flavoured, it suited the rich winter environment, perhaps better than traditional ossobuco. Certainly in context of the entire meal, it made more sense, given the largely French perspective at the restaurant. Although I admit to generally preferring a more traditional Italian version generally.

I tried a few other dishes as well including, rabbit pappardelle, a vegetable and blue cheese pie and a few others. All of which were excellently cooked. However the sides were a mixed a bag. They had an excellent radicchio salad, but their mixed vegetables were terrible. The broccoli was overcooked, as were the green beans (very slightly, this was forgivable) and the grilled zucchini was not only out of season and flavourless, but it was too limp. This was perhaps the lowest part of all the food I had. Although they did not charge us for the dish, when this was pointed out. Interestingly I never got to dessert, on one occasion the heat of the room got to me and I felt sick and after that I favoured cheeses.

The cheese selection merits some discussion. On the menu were four cheeses. A Kapiti blue cheese, a Richmond Red, a French brie and a ash rind goats cheese. First up the Kapiti, I will never understand why restaurants serve Kapiti cheese. I find some of their cheeses descent, enough for kind of casual eating, cheddar is good, as is one of their blue cheeses, but none of the blues I think hold a candle to continental blues in this regard. They are two singular in flavour. They lack the complexity of a great Stilton, St Augur, Roquefort, Gorgonzola or any of the others. I am not saying that New Zealand blue cheeses are bad, but I do not find the Kapiti blues to be of sufficient depth of flavour to compare to their European competition. So this was a miss for me. The Brie de Meaux is not a bad cheese. It is reasonably complex, with a creamy rich texture, but it also failed to wildly excite, perhaps I have had it too much. The last two cheeses were excellent however, in particular the subtlety of the ash rind goats cheese (selles sur cher) was superb. Delicate, but complex in flavour and surprisingly less sharp than you might imagine. The Richmond Red from Nelson was superb as well. Again the depth and complexity of flavour here were excellent. The cheese itself was harder in texture and offered more sharpness than the others. They had excellent ginger biscuits that accompanied the cheeses.

The strengths of O’Connell Street I think is the cooking. Generally from a technical standpoint the components were well executed. There were on occasion a few things that could be improved, the consommé was perhaps not perfectly clear (although it was free from fat) and one or two components I suppose could be better, but texture and flavour wise, the food was cooked to excellent standard. However I think there are a few problems that warrant some discussion.

To say presentation is an issue is perhaps to overstate the point, but given the quality of food coming out of the kitchen, some of the presentations I think could have been better. The sauces were often a little sloppy in their plating for example, the consommé was not perfectly clear and other small problems existed. However most of these were forgivable, because in general the details were good, the perfectly coloured skin on deep fried items, the beautiful glazed carrots, the clear sauces and the like. However what I found disappointing was the plate composition. Some of them just did not look that good. I understand that it is a traditional restaurant in this respect and so there will not be the more adventurous presentations of more cutting edge restaurants, which I personally prefer, but I think more care could be given and inventiveness displayed in them. This is a small problem, the individual components were largely great it was more the composition of plates.

The next issue for me is seasonality. The menu frankly lacks enough sense of season. For example our terrible mixed vegetables that we received included zucchini, why? In the middle of winter zucchini are going to be hothouse or imported and frankly of poor value. There are a plethora of winter vegetables that could be chosen from and cooked without a problem, but why choose zucchini as a choice? The venison advertised figs with it on the menu. As it turned out they used cranberries. It was not clear to me if figs would normally be served with it or not, but they are clearly out of season (and I would guess next to impossible to find good ones). Perhaps this why they serve cranberries, but regardless, it goes to show the menu is not updated for the season and so they obviously are relatively static in menu construction. Why serve lamb loin, when braised cuts would be best, given the relative toughness and flavour this time of year? Again there is a lack of season consideration, in winter where are the soups? Why serve green beans, when again they are not at their best in winter? Where are the cabbages? Celeriac? Beets? Salsify? What about truffle, they served only essence as far as I can tell? They did serve lots of broccoli, I suppose. At least the vegetable terrine featured a seasonal vegetable (leek), as did the venison (brussel sprouts), despite its inclusion of figs. This is disappointing for me, as it seems to be giving up opportunities for better food for no real reason.


What I love about the restaurant however is that it cooks food that works as a whole. Each dish, never feels like a bunch of components slapped on a plate. They feel integrated, this may simply be because they are serving food deeply rooted within a tradition, but regardless it makes their food work. The central core of the food is strong and relies on excellent technique and for that reason I think O’Connell Street Bistro is an excellent restaurant. It does not serve the most challenging food, but it is richly rewarding to eat and savour. Some of the things do bother me, probably the service is my biggest annoyance, but I enjoy eating there and if you want something that serves relatively straight forward, but excellently cooked bistro food, you need to look no further. Other restaurants compete in this field, but I think that O’Connell Street Bistro is the best of them.

reposted from http://foodtrace.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/oconnell-street-bistro/

3 star rating
by Susanhannah Susanhannah
Jun 10, 2013

FOOD 6/10
ENTREES
Crayfish Ravioli
good
Leek Terrine
terrine? packed together leeks-no filling. mozzarella ricotta too gentle a flavour for this dish
MAINS
Beef Cheek (day special)
Tender, fall off the bone. Plain presentation
Crayfish Tail with Witloof and Shallot Vinaigrette (day special)
Sauce not complimentary. (same one as for the scallop dish)
Cooked medium rare??! I should have sent it back
Side Dish Beetroot
lovely

SERVICE 7/10
Very good but not special. Rather like the bland service at The Grove. Should have suggested a side salad for the Crayfish

TIMING 9/10

AMBIENCE 7/10

WATER SERVICE 7/10
Arrived promptly but not replenished

REST ROOMS 5/10
Unisex at this level of restaurant? used towel bucket overflowing

WINE LIST 8/10
Sommelier was asked for advice, not offered. enjoyed the wine selection

GREET/FAREWELL 6/10
On arrival matre' d ignored the woman, and addressed the man. Seemed rude. On leaving, he was with other customers, but could have caught our eye with a 'thank you smile'

VALUE FOR MONEY 4/10

AVERAGE OF 6/10

Not good, for a restaurant of this supposed quality.

5 star rating
by Ar_tonga
Apr 27, 2013

My sister and I have been looking forward to visiting this restaurant for a while now, and we weren't disappointed.
The service was attentive and friendly but not overbearing. The staff made suggestions when appropriate, which we were happy to follow (and were glad we had.) The food was delicious. Of particular note, the eye fillet was cooked beautifully and the chips (yes we did order chips!) were hot, crisp and a joy to eat. Our overall impression was of a great dining experience without unnecessary formality. We will definitely be back!

5 star rating
by Viv
Aug 07, 2012

My partner and I dined at O'Connell St Bistro last night, my partner has been several times but this was my first. The excellent reviews and awards this establishment receives, year on year are certainly true to form.
For a Monday evening there was a good buzz, so we were glad we booked. My partner enjoyed his Gnocchi & the recommended house speciality - Rabbit. The Chicken Liver Parfait was so divine it melted in my mouth and the Lamb for my main was cooked to perfection. The drinks selection is outstanding with many excellent wines available by the glass.

The mood was relaxed and we never felt rushed.
Our lasting impression was how impeccable the service was. Bart, our waiter is clearly passionate about food and has an incredible knowledge of every ingredient on the menu - right down to the Rock salt. He was just delightful and leaves every other waiter in New Zealand for dust.

Thanks for a fantastic evening!

5 star rating
by ParkingSleeping Sleeping
Mar 24, 2012

Yes as good as it gets in New Zealand and possibly the world . I always feel welcome , always feel as if I am receiving the best of service and style . Style is very important to me .The staff are very good .
I just order what ever the chef recommends and am never dissapointed .
It may seem strange to others but I enjoy the Bistro on nights when it is raining .Thr reflected light the patter of the rain and the rush of people out side ,I often feel that I am some where else in the world . I always catch a taxi back to the hotel after a nice glass of red wine .
The retuarant is not cheap and really it is for the after sevens or may be the later diner . Who has the time to enjoy the ambiance . A small bar area is great for before and after chit chat , meeting new people or doing million dollar plus deals .Thanks Chris and his wonderful partener .{my next booking is in place and I took time out just to savour the up and coming dinning event}.

5 star rating
by G Y
Aug 26, 2011

By far our favorite restaurant in Auckland.

Food is amazing, staff are the best, wine selection has everything you could want.

Steak Tartare!
Beef Carpaccio!

Two favorites and done so well.

Always consistent and welcoming.

1 star rating
by Jennifer Boyes
Aug 26, 2011

Had a pre-theatre meal here last night and was left feeling VERY disappointed.....

First, as soon as we arrived we were told in no uncertain terms that we had to be out at 7.30pm and shouldn't order any of the slower cooking dishes (lamb etc). Wasn't too perturbed at this as we had an event to get to anyway. What was seriously irritating was the fact that they then took well over an hour to bring our mains!! It's not like the food was the hardest to prepare either- scallops and gnocchi, hardly a slow cook!

When we raised our concerns, the young American waitress was very grumpy and unfriendly, and full of excuses. Apparently, the kitchen is small and only has two chefs and we 'had to understand that.' Ok- but an hour plus???? Give me a break. If you can't deliver food in a reasonable time, you either need less tables or more chefs. An apology would have been nice, not a defensive, snarly rebuttal. The maitre d' was just as rude.

We won't be going back. There are too many good restaurants in Auckland to be putting up with places that have such a massive chip on their shoulder.......

The food was ok but a bit boring- definitely not a mind-blowing experience

5 star rating
by Mark Rose
Apr 15, 2011

I have been dining at O'Connell St Bistro since the day it opened and have only had extremely good experiences. When ever I am in Auckland I dine at the bistro and my last visit was as good as the first. Fresh Bluff oysters, Serrano ham and figs, a crispy fillet of snapper on a perfectly cooked risotto finished off with an interesting selection of cheese. Great food accompanied by a wine list with breadth, depth and interest. Great service - I look forward to visiting when ever I am in Auckland.

4 star rating
by Love Food
Apr 13, 2011

We have eaten twice over the past year at O'Connell St. Its location in the centre of town makes it an easy choice, especially with business guests.

On our last visit the filet steak was perfectly cooked medium rare, with bearnaise sauce was beautifully made alas it came with only a very small portion which is healthy but one of Frances greatest sauces requires us to enjoy a little indulgence, pont neuf chips were also served.

A lovely meal, with attentive service and a wine list that has rightly made O'Connell st famous.

3 star rating
by Ramona Dillon
May 05, 2010

Well, waited long for this visit. Yet, left feeling ok, yet not whow! Agree with service,excellent, yet the proof is in the pudding as they say. In this case the rabbit dish,way too salty, for a delicate meat to be served in this way. I was advised that this had been on the menu for 9 years, time to refresh the run for the rabbit! Pasta too firm, disappointed. O'Connell's obviously thrives on its reputation on serving professionals who are indeed in need of old fashioned comfort food and would be best to go home early and prepare something.So, I will gladly let my yearning rest comfortably knowing I have not missed out on anything wondrous offered at O'Connell's.

5 star rating
by Al
Apr 18, 2010

The best restaurant I've been to in Auckland.

Before anything, the service at O'Connell is flawless. The staff makes you feel like a king. They service you with the best attitude, while making you feel at ease.

The four of us ordered all the famous mains: The duck, the lamb, the beef and the rabbit.

The maitre d recommended a few wines to go with our meals and we decided on a French Pino Noir. It was rich enough to match the taste of red meat, and yet smooth with a clean after taste.

We finished off with another wine and their famous creme brulee which were delicious.

The restaurant itself is quite small, but it provides quite a homely aura, and doesn't get noisy.
The waiting staff were always attentive whenever we wanted their service.
And they also had wide knowledge about other bars nearby, and gave us much information about the place.
The pricing IS quite dear, but this is a high quality bistro with high expectations.

We were happy with everything for once.

5 star rating
by Leslie
Dec 07, 2009

This is my favourite restaurent in Auckland, its cosy, inviting and you only have a handful of choices (I hate overdone menus). I have had most of the dishes and they are all melt in your mouth delicious. Service is impecible and the best part of all....the creme burlee for desert!