When Lilian opened in Grey Lynn’s West Lynn shops in 2019, it filled a large gap in the neighbourhood’s nighttime dining scene – and had waiting times to match. These days, you might still need to factor in a time-killing drink in a nearby bar, but think of it as a testament to the restaurant’s enduring popularity.
Owners Willy Gresson, Otis Gardner Schapiro (Schapiro’s Sports Bar) and Hugo Baird (Hotel Ponsonby) have created a comfortable space that evokes upscale European wine bars. Inside, it’s all sophistication, with deep burgundy leather seating and textured ecru walls – and there’s arguably no better place to bask in Auckland’s golden hour than at one of Lilian’s outdoor tables.
The sharing menu skews European, with an Italian bent. Many of the dishes are woodfired, including puffy, charred bread that’s best ripped apart by hand and slathered with chicken-liver parfait. Other signatures are the sticky, sweet-sour eggplant with macadamia and agrodolce; lamb ribs with black garlic and pistachio; and octopus with salsa verde, butter beans and squid-ink aioli. Lilian’s woodfired pizzas are also widely loved. Flavours include prosciutto with grapes, parmesan and thyme; tuatua (clams) with fennel cream and parsley; and potato, stracciatella, rosemary and caramelised onion.
The wine list spans drops from New Zealand and around the globe, and there are Auckland-brewed craft beers on tap. On the concise cocktail list, the Blood Orange & Chilli Margarita is a crowd favourite.
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