I’ve been keeping a vague eye on Edinburgh restaurant openings in my absence with the arrival of the Mumbai Diners’ Club one I’m particularly keen to try upon my return. I’ve been missing Indian food so tried to seek out somewhere good to sample some in Auckland. Cassia had just been recognised as the best metropolitan restaurant in New Zealand, just a couple of days prior to my visit, so it looked to fit the bill.
After a pre-dinner martini at nearby Caretaker, I took the few steps down to a buzzing dining room packed with punters clearly having quite an evening. The aromas wafting from the open kitchen were heady. I felt myself gently floating towards them, Bisto-kid style.
I had the opportunity to sit at the kitchen bar where I had a full view of the extensive kitchen team at work.
I was keen to try the breadth of their menu so opted for the tasting menu and added the paired wines for good measure. It was one of the best wine lists I’ve seen in an Indian restaurant. One quickly fixed dud rioja aside, the pairings were well thought out and of good quality.
Things opened with a little amuse of pani puri which are always a crunchy mouthful favourite.
Many of the highlights on this leg of the trip have revolved around the humble carrot, from Attica to Franklin to Cumulus Inc. Once more, the Cassia dish of carrot, macadamia, and burnt butter was totally splendid.
This was followed by an excellent dish of tandoori white fish with lemon cream topped with a bubbly black garlic cracker. This was highly accomplished and elegant cooking.
Things kept getting better with the best dish of the evening, fantastic lamb chops with parsnip crisps. The spicing on the lamb was warm and the meat deeply juicy and satisfying.
The main course of tandoori chicken was just a little too vigorously spiced for my palate and the naan was a little pancakey. This was still a very good dish but not quite to the standard of the chops.
The palate cleansing dessert of coconut ice cream with a lychee espuma on raspberry soil was a return to form.
The final dessert of chocolate, banana and pistachio had too many hard textures and was served in too deep a bowl to make it anything other than a difficult eat and a pretty disappointing end to what had been an otherwise stellar meal.
So overall, Cassia hit some fabulous high notes during a very impressive meal. The lamb chops in particular were a real favourite. I’d recommend it to you next time you’re looking for a high-class dinner packed with flavour, energy and style.
Blythe scores Cassia
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4.5/5 for setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 17/20
I ate: tasting menu
I drank: bubbles, paired wines, water, espresso
I wore: linens
Total bill: $179.50
Address: 5 Fort Lane, Auckland 1010