New Zealand. The home of the hobbit. The home of stunningly beautiful mountains, gleaming lakes, incredible snow and many,many sheep. One thing that we do not pay much tribute to New Zealand for is their food. However, this is a terrible oversight- there are eateries in New Zealand that are worth raving about! One such place that we love- Ortolana, in Auckland. This beautiful little bistro will knock your socks off with intelligent pairings and the freshest flavors around.
The food here is definitely something to write home about. The bistro creates seasonal dishes, and the majority of the ingredients come from their own farm in Kumeu. We loved this bistro so much that we had to go there twice, for lunch and for dinner! For lunch we had the ‘Raviolo, yolk, dandelion, truffle’, ‘Farfalle, pea, mint, feta, almond’ and ‘Flat iron steak, onion, truffle, gnocco fritto’. Then for dinner we tried another raviolo dish, the ‘Raviolo, yolk, potato, truffle’ and the ‘Dry cured pork, apple, feta, grisini’. These simple dish names prepare you for what you are about to encounter, but in no way do they prepare you for the incredible tastes of the freshest ingredients, intelligently paired with original yet complimentary flavors.
Ortolana is full of magic, in all kinds of ways. The word ‘Ortolana’ comes from the Italian word for ‘market gardener’, and this shows with their love for using fresh home grown produce from the Kumeu farm, which is only 25km out of the city. The décor of the bistro itself pays homage to nature, with greenery and plant pots everywhere you turn. Situated in the heart of Britomart, the waterfront district, you can sit outside beneath the canopy of lights or choose to sit inside and watch the chefs prepare your delicacies in the open kitchen. The humble bistro is cozy and does not adhere to any pretentiousness. Ortolana is a welcoming kitchen serving up other-worldly dishes.
The only thing we found lacking about Ortolana, is their services. This 90-seat bistro only takes some bookings, depending upon your arrival time. If you cannot get a reservation then the bistro runs a wait-list system where they can contact you when a table is ready. Having dined at a lot of establishments, we have had to wait in many queues and deal with many waitlist systems, and it is not the best start to your dining experience.
Back to the good news- Ortolana is excellent value for money. The chefs provide you with food that is fresh and homegrown, yet you pay an average price for a more-than-average dish. Lunch ranges from $16-$29 NZD ($10-$18 USD), and dinner the same, with sides coming in at $8 NZD ($5 USD) each. Desserts are all below the $15 NZD ($9.5 USD) mark, and should you chose to end your meal in true Italian style with a short of Limoncello that will only set you back $12 NZD ($7.5 USD).