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Ratings and reviews

RATINGS
Food
Service
Value

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PRICE RANGE
$110 - $180
CUISINES
New Zealand
Special Diets
Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options
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meals, features, about
Reviews (53)
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All reviews venison parfait truffle amuse bouche cakes olive oil delicious food courses wapiti desert paua
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Reviewed 23 March 2024 via mobile

Lillius provided a surprisingly excellent dinner experience in Auckland, New Zealand. From the mise en bouche to the Appetizer and main course, the combination of super fresh ingredients and intelligent taste was fantastic. The attention to the details of texture (for example with extra crunchy...quinoa in the first small plate) or the subtleties of the green apple and fresh prawns in the appetizer. Everything was excellently put together. The choices of wines from NZ was broad and lip smuckingly good. This restaurant deserve your visit when in Auckland !More

Date of visit: March 2024
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Reviewed 19 February 2024

BYO available on Sunday - something almost unheard of nowadays. Despite this perk it was a very quiet Sunday night when we went. The food was inventive and delicious, easily on par with other fine dining restaurants in Auckland, and ahead of the most current...most popular in the fine dining category. The dry aged Matangi beef was spot on. This is definitely one to try if you haven't already.More

Date of visit: February 2024
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Reviewed 11 November 2023 via mobile

We were seated in one of the small circular booths, which give a sense of privacy. The food was outstanding, unusual combinations which really worked. Excellent service too. A restaurant with a very good reputation, thoroughly deserved

Date of visit: November 2023
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Reviewed 28 October 2023 via mobile

Beautiful room, attentive staff and the food…. Course after course of inventive, delicious food. Beautifully matched wines. This team is on their game. Just go… you’ll thank me!

Date of visit: October 2023
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Reviewed 1 August 2022

Delicious food excellent value. My wife loved the Truffle and Celeriac entree and I loved my Paua wrapped in cabbage! Then for mains she had Wapiti (venison) and artichoke beautifully cooked and I had seared Tuna and yams with wonderful truffle sauce. It was so...tasty and finger licking good! A large desert of Persimmon parfait with passionfruit was an excellent ending. Highly recommended!More

Date of visit: July 2022
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Reviewed 19 July 2022

We had a fabulous dinner at Lillius a few nights ago and could not fault the degustation dinner at all. The friendly service and explanation of courses, perfect. I think my favourite course was the Tora Bay Paua, pearl barley and seaweed however the baked...celeriac with truffle, the market fish also with truffle also very hard to beat. We had Fiordland Wapiti, sorrel sorbet (amazing), olive oil parfait together with the most delicious whitebait amuse bouche and little donuts filled with tuna tartare topped with caviar........ By far the very best meal we have had for a very long time and highly recommended.More

Date of visit: July 2022
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Reviewed 19 June 2021 via mobile

Small and initiate restaurant, nice decor. Considered food presentation with attention to the finer details. Beautiful velvet seating and nice design leading to a comfortable and decadent space. Delicious food although with a fairly hefty price tag. A nice treat for a special occasion!

Date of visit: May 2021
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Reviewed 24 January 2021 via mobile

We had a fantastic meal at Lillius last night, which included warm professional service. We had the degustation menu and couldn't fault it. The evening started on a high with an amuse bouch of raw fish wrapped in kohlrabi and continued on the same high....The salmon course was amazing- at first I was disappointed to see Salmon was the raw fish chosen but it ended up being a highlight and simply the nicest raw salmon I have had. The jus on all dishes were different and unctuous. We had to get extra delicious bread to mop up. Note: if you're lucky they may have made extra loaves which can be purchased. The lambs tongue was also a delight and reminds me again of why a degustation is so good -as you experience a dish you may not have normally ordered . Well done on including this wonderful meat. The desert has to be the nicest I've ever had. Flavors of passionfruit, apricot but the magic was the fennel sauce it was placed on. The wine list was interesting and well chosen ( although I do wish more restaurants had Gewurztraminer by the glass) . We will definitely return....please make this your next go to place . You won't be disappointedMore

Date of visit: January 2021
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Reviewed 13 April 2020

This is a depressing time to be a fine-dining gourmand in Auckland. Simon Wright of French Café , Michael Meredith of Meredith’s, and Tony Stewart of Clooney have all left the game. Charming and grandly entertaining restaurants like Toto’s are long gone, and huge aristocratic...rooms like the Langham’s Barolo are distant memories. What’s left in their wake seems like the dance of pygmies. Into this relative desert, the entry of any ambitious restaurant is a reason to pop an entry-level champagne. Thus arose my frisson for Lillius. I came across some spectacular dishes and what larks ! the expectations soared like a turbo-winged moa. Situated in Eden Terrace – the first little precinct of fine-dining that you encounter as you drive in from the suburbs into the CBD, the place is hipster-chic in its coolth, boasting high ceilings, half-polished concrete as the walls and floor, comfy blue velvet banquets contrasted against yellow-upholstered chairs. The tablecloth went out in 1999, the year some of the staff here were yet to get into school. Chef Fraser McCarthy helms the kitchen and Shannon Vandy reconnoiters the front. Few amuse bouches in Auckland fine-dining restaurants amount to much. Bits of brunoised tomato in olive oil as Lillius’ very first gratis offering were forgettable but what was eminently not, was the next teaser. On a little cylinder of brioche-like bread, there was chicken liver pate that powerfully resonated on the palate, cut smartly with plum sauce. Beside it was a potato crisp, packed with gentle zing and sandwiching a highly moreish egg mix with chives avec onion. Give me just one good main course after this and I would have walked out of the restaurant satisfied. Lilius' sashimi-style Kingfish is the greatest I have ever tasted in New Zealand. Tremendous flavour swirls in its sensuously velvety flesh, with a mystical umami as subtle as it is deep, all buoyed by its impossibly fresh quality. I emerged from the haze, and splashed into another marine wonder on the same perimeter - the sublimely succulent crayfish, smoked with bold genius. This head-spinning dish was followed by its creative equivalent - a dual presentation which I'd call "Meditation on Corn". Two plates were needed for this - one an unvarnished bed of sprawling corn-husk on which nestled a light flatbread made from corn husk. Its sibling plate had infant corns, unsurprisingly tender, made perkier with nearby buckwheat crisps. What made these delicious rather than just smart was the dunking double-pool of corn puree and a hummus-like sunchoke mash. Those sauces engineered beautifully sweet and subtly savoury currents that lifted the whole presentation. The hyper-analytical might interpret this as dinner channeling breakfast , with the yellow-'n'-white sauce recalling a fried egg, and the crispy corn reprising corn flakes but folks I have better things to do with my time than thinking up such comparisons 😉 While some might call all of this very gimmicky, I however was pleasantly impressed by the dish's vision - a bold example of how this well and truly exemplified the age of the intellectual chef - the Anthony Bourdain who does not commit suicide. The law of averages then slammed in, as it does in all but the most accomplished of restaurants. Grilled eel crawled with subdued flavour, topped with chopped seaweed that did nothing to enhance its denominator. Equally puzzling was the blue-pea sauce which was too contracted to relax and let its vegetal notes croon. The main course of that evening, however, married two sea sirens in a way I've never witnessed before. Top-quality blue cod was coaxed to succulent excellence and paired in inspired fashion with a paddle-crab sauce. That communion would have developed a legendary halo had the sauce sported more of the sweetness that distinguishes memorable crab from its dreary brethren. Service was solidly good, and the compact roster of front-of-house assiduously efficient. Patrons leaner towards the younger side, as they would in a place that eschews the traditional trappings of luxury dining. Having bare walls and floors maybe boldly chic, and it also unashamedly cranks up the noise levels. I turned my attention to the finer aspects of Chef McCarthy’s skill set. Apropos vegetable cookery, he discloses considerable technical skill as he does with his meats, but the expression of flavour is inconsistent. That corn puree was excellent no doubt, but his attempts to similarly make a smooth mash of courgettes for another dish generated a decidedly off-putting taste that sent alarm signals to stay away every time one gave it another sampling. Much more successful was a coiffed ribbon of the same vegetable that was a gentle triumph of zesty texture and refreshing flavour. A true-blue Kiwi bloke, he profoundly believes in stoicism – the way an outrageously good beginning has to be evened out with a suitably contrapuntal denouement. Yogurt mousse was plainly gorgeous - an alchemy of lusciously creamy, sweet and tangy notes, excellently accessorized with bits of crisp melon and a bed of sweet kombucha sauce. This pre-dessert proved a far better dazzler than its marquee successor. "ANZAC" ice-cream with shards of the said oats-'n'-coconut cookie all tasted flat, with cuts of stone-fruit that were sadly blunt - a Turkish chef likely sneaked into the kitchen and sabotaged all this. II My plan to complete the summer overture with a winter conclusion was buffeted by the winds of life. By the time the clouds parted from my fine-dining schedule, it was the December of the same year but seasonal variation or not, it matters little when you want to better understand a fine lady or fine restaurant better. The ambience again exerted its casual-chic effect. I thought I was going to get cooked sous-vide over three hours in my blazer and had to ask for the AC to be cranked-up, and well-connected place that this was, cool relief soon ensued. Service was excellent – I never had to wait for anything. The ‘amuses’ again cast their unexpected spell. There was again corn wizardry, jacked up with little tricks. A little dish had beautiful corn custard at the bottom, little bites of fresh corn, topped with crispy fish skin. The hidden dazzler was haunting infusions of smoky Japanese accents – nips of Japanese soy sauce and seaweed creating a beaut of sweet, savoury and umami swirls. The other amuse also shot little arrows of joy – a little torpedo of delicious fried rye bread crowned with an egg-mix sprinkled with an outstanding powder of dried field mushrooms that took the delighted palate on swerving tiny vectors. Things could only go uphill from here. The meal’s first formal juncture was a dish that appealed more to my amygdala than something more oral. It was a cozily colourful-‘n’-jazzy toss-up of trevally ceviche and littles cubes of tomato, the juxtaposition persuasively making its case as to how similar this surf and turf tasted. For crunch, there was puffed millet sprinkled all over the soft, slick core elements. A rye crisp parked beside brought back redolent memories of sabudana (sago) fritters. The whole dish recalled Konkan influences in the way the tender bits canoodled with crisp – heck, both regions have the Coromandel coast to their west. My request for no red meat, conveyed to them when I booked a week before the visit, was confirmed at the outset, by the table-side, by a strange question – “Pork is fine, right ?” – the only mis-step of the entire service. “ No, pork is red meat, so I would avoid it “, I said. An evolved culinary joint like this not knowing that pork is also red meat, is surprising to say the least. My limitation undoubtedly upset the chef’s original ingredient list but I was hopeful about what would nonetheless follow. Asparagus with kawakawa sauce ( the latter is a plant native to NZ ) had muted vegetal notes but what was more interesting on the plate was a flaxseed crisp that disintegrated in the mouth to yield a smooth creamy mouthfeel. Still, I suspect no marquee vegetable likes it when it is upstaged by a side-player no one has heard about. The octopus is one of the most misunderstood creatures in the culinary world. Chefs kill it ( via fishermen) and think it will make for good eating but 90 % of the times, you get tasteless rubber. I have never had memorable octopus in New Zealand, some versions dreadful enough to tentacle my memory many tides later. Lilius’ version was soft but again tasteless, un-understandably paired with a small puck of crisp-skinned chicken and a sharp macadamia puree. The octopus had no flavour to begin with, and the puree on the same fork would have further hijacked it. In the culinary world, this is known as pointlessness piled on more pointlessness. John Dory as the main course was perfectly decent, but lacked real depth of intrinsic flavour, and was dully paired with a petits pois of peas that itself eschewed zing and contributed nothing to enhance the fish. Like the previous dish, this had across-the plate good technical cookery but hopeless taste calibration and unfocused selection of ingredients which may be decent but are certainly not world-class. Like in the previous summer, the pre-dessert outclassed its larger successor. This time the yoghurt sorbet’s voluptuous brilliance was unwittingly cut down by green swirls of fennel oil but the star of this little dish was a rhubarb and chamomile granita – the chilled chamomile spreading its perfume gloriously on the palate with a swooning flourish that chamomile tea may never reach. You reach a stage in fine-dining restaurants where outstanding chocolate on the plate is not nearly enough by itself – so many other competitors similarly ace it that a second player is required to up the meter. That evening, there was a cylinder of exquisite chocolate ganache but it engineered no higher alchemy with its two neighbours - a sour-dough ice cream that started with wonderful little whispers of the hearth, but melted sooner than it should, its taste steadily defusing while a mango custard sneakily hiding behind a bread-crust did little to cohere with the rest. The chef here does the same thing (apart from a precious few tantalizing visions of true greatness) as the rest of his Kiwi fine-dining brethren and I regret to lament this from the last seven years – they work undoubtedly well on the design of the dishes overall and score some victories here and there – but they do not lavish enough attention on the centrepiece of the dish and do not think hard enough about how to get it so full of flavour that it tears the door down. But then, why should they care so much ? – the clients seem to keep coming everywhere. UPNWORLDMore

Date of visit: December 2019
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Reviewed 23 February 2020

Went here for a birthday dinner so tried the 5 course Dégustation at the chefs selection. This proved to be 8-9 courses and was exceptional. If anyone remembers the old days of the Grove Restaurant - this is every bit as good and is to...be highly recommended. We appreciate that the menu changes with produce but the squid, potato, pork and desert dishes were exceptional. Service is casual and efficient. Very slightly off put by the choice of music but it wasn't loud so this is only a minor comment.More

Date of visit: February 2020
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Reviewed 13 February 2020

We booked the degustation at a table for 4. The waitress was a wonderful bubbly girl, knowledgable about the meals and gave good advice about wine paring. The food was excellent with great attention to detail. I couldn't fault the restaurant at all, the only...disappointment was a nearby table of increasingly rowdy businessmen. I would definitely go again.More

Date of visit: November 2019
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Reviewed 3 February 2020

Fine dining at its best. Decor and ambiance delightful and aircon welcomed in sticky summer evening heat. Wait staff are informed and knowledgeable and very nice. It's lovely to find a fine dining restaurant that doesn't have an entitled attitude (loads do). 3 courses which...you have a choice of 3 options each course, or 5 courses which the kitchen chooses for you. Great fun, we love surprises but chose the 3 as we had a show and they planned the meal around our leave time which was extremely thoughtful. 3 courses are $90 pperson and our total bill was around $150 pperson with drinks. Drinks are expensive however they were great wines. Highly recommend for spoilies and special occassions or for people with high incomes.More

Date of visit: February 2020
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Reviewed 12 October 2019 via mobile

Something of a mystery. The menu we chose we could be told the courses or have a surprise. We chose the latter. Then we also had a vegetarian friend. He was very happy with his courses and so were we. It was my birthday treat....The hostess and part owner is lovely. The decor is relaxed and elegant, love the colour scheme . The decoration over the bar is fabulous. Although there are hard surfaces the sound quality was very good. No problems hearing conversations. Definitely one to return to.More

Date of visit: September 2019
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lilliusnz, Owner at Lillius, responded to this reviewResponded 19 November 2019

Thank you very much for taking the time to give us such lovely feedback! We are all very happy that you have enjoyed your experience dining with us. Kind Regards, Shannon Vandy

Reviewed 8 September 2019

The attention to detail here is second to none resulting in an outstanding dining experience both in the presentation and taste. The ambiance is really stylish and you are able to hold a conversation without banging background noise. Sometimes these places are overserviced but we...all felt that the staff had it just right with a friendly approach and attentive style. They also gave a lot of information about what was on the plate. The portion sizes were good and the four of us went for the three course where we picked our own dishes. With the extras that come out we couldn’t have eaten anymore. Each dish is very complex and well constructed to say the least.More

Date of visit: September 2019
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lilliusnz, Owner at Lillius, responded to this reviewResponded 19 November 2019

Thank you for dining with us and taking the time to leave such a kind review about your experience. Hopefully we can look after you again in the future then! Kind regards, Shannon Vandy

Reviewed 8 September 2019

Amazing food, service and surroundings. Not your standard fare. Interesting, incredibly tasty and beautifully presented... This restaurant is a find!

Date of visit: September 2019
Helpful?
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
lilliusnz, Owner at Lillius, responded to this reviewResponded 19 November 2019

Thank you for dining with us! Our team is very happy you enjoyed your experience. Hopefully we can look after you again in the future. Kind regards, Shannon Vandy

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LILLIUS, Auckland Central - Menu, Prices & Restaurant Reviews

Frequently Asked Questions about Lillius

Lillius is rated accordingly in the following categories by Tripadvisor travellers:
  • Food: 5
  • Service: 5
  • Value: 5