Milenta is a hidden (but not at all secret) gem, concealed from the road on a corner of the busy Victoria Park Market complex.
When it opened in March 2022, the eatery became one of the most attractive reasons to venture into the area, surrounded by offices and commercial buildings and a couple of other small businesses.
The postcode is slightly in need of rejuvenation, but whether this will be kicked off by Milenta, and its neighbouring sibling bar and members club Shy Guy, time will tell – the restaurant remains one of the best things not only in the area but in Auckland city’s dining scene as a whole. This partially thanks to the perennial presence of co-owner Vinci Gin, one of the city's consummate hosts.
Open for lunch and dinner, it’s got a chic indoor-outdoor feel thanks to a clever rooftop contraption that can be opened completely to the elements and the giant overhanging pōhutukawa tree. The Izzard-designed space is simply laid out with an organic feel; there’s plenty of wood, hanging plants and woven-back chairs. Along one side, the brick-lined open kitchen is backed by large open-fire cooking areas, whose flame-licked creations form the backbone of the menu.
Using topnotch Aotearoa produce, Milenta homes in on South American flavours, which are satisfyingly punchy and charred thanks to the wood-coal-stoked fire. The dishes have plenty of contrasting flavours and textures, with small plates such as fire-roasted artichoke with stracciatella and pomegranate; a smoky eggplant torta paired with pineapple, pico de gallo and charred corn; and a raw section including nikkei-style yellowfin tuna tiradito served with onion ash salt, white soy and habanero oil.
For mains, you might share blackened Chatham Island blue cod in banana leaf with pickled onion, or Peruvian charred chicken with shishito peppers, aji amarillo chilli paste and avocado.
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