For anyone after a polished, sure-footed dining experience, Onslow delivers.
Find the restaurant via the soaring lobby of swanky central city apartment complex The International – partitioned off in the back-left corner by slatted, dark wood doors.
It’s owned and operated by high-profile chef Josh Emett and his wife Helen Emett. Josh has worked in London and New York, and has been the face of several successful Auckland restaurants over the years, but this is the first that he and Helen have created from scratch. The duo also owns Waiheke Island’s beloved Oyster Inn.
Onslow’s concept hinges on “classics” done well, channelling a sense of old-world sophistication without a stiff upper lip, but with a well-heeled warmth.
Inside, the overall effect is rich, dark and textural thanks to an abundance of deep, smooth wood combined with light-grey stone floors and tastefully gnarled indoor trees. It’s softened throughout by long, sandy linen curtains that ruffle gently when waiters sweep past them. The view out the windows is pure cityscape – skyscrapers and apartment blocks – but inside Onslow you’ll feel cocooned away from it all. Or, you can sit on the outdoor balcony and completely embrace the city setting.
At night, directional downlighting gives several of the tables the theatrical effect of floating in space, gently lighting everyone’s faces as they talk and eat. One of Onslow’s signatures, the salmon trolley, plays into this; a large side of Big Glory Bay salmon is wheeled over and elegantly carved in front of you, then served with dressings, pickled cucumber and rye as it gleams like a jewel on the plate.
You should start your meal with one or two of Onslow’s “treats” – small snacks that come as a mouthful for each diner. The OFC (Onslow fried chicken) with spicy pickles and caviar, and the Fiordland crayfish eclair, are unbeatable.
The rest of the menu is in keeping with the restaurant’s classic but approachable vibe, and is geared around getting the best out of high-quality local produce and ingredients. Dishes might include kingfish crudo or tuna carpaccio, butter-poached snapper or slow-braised organic beef cheek, free-range porchetta or (depending on the season) spring asparagus.
For dessert, the signature souffle flavour changes – but you should definitely order it to finish your meal.
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