We had nothing to complain about the wine or food at Millwater Bar & Bistro. I came across this reasonably new restaurant via Mrs Google when looking for somewhere to wine and dine for an annual celebration and it was the thoughtful wine list offering an extensive range of local and international wines with exciting by-the-glass selections in small, medium and large sizes that had attracted me. I called by in the afternoon to suss it out and Deanne, who showed me around and explained what I could eat when I said I had a wheat and onion allergy, was truly remarkable. I asked if we could have a table on the balcony and when she said there were no other bookings for the evening (yet) and could sit where we liked I asked if my booking for three could be at the table for four by the tree. She said my name was on it and there would be a back-up table inside if it got too cold in the evening - more on that later.
For starters to accompany our fabulous Johanneshof Marlborough Blanc de Blanc 2008 bubbles ($58) we had two shared plates ($12 ea), the mixed olives and feta coming with garlic gluten free pizza base rather than the standard garlic crostini, and mushrooms a la plancha with parmesan and lime - both a very good bubbles match.
I ordered market fish ($33) that on the evening was snapper on a bed of potato and onion mash but came on a bed of seasonal roast veg for me. The fresh, delicately cooked, skin-on snapper the best I have ever tasted in a restaurant. My female co-diners both chose the 250grams of prime grilled sirloin steak ($22) and when the generous portions arrived their eat-with-the-eyes senses thought it would be too much but the taste melt-in-the-mouth tender which resulted in only a piece of gristle left behind on one plate. They also ordered sides of seasonal veg ($7) and sauerkraut slaw ($6) they raved about.
We didn’t eat desserts though I was tempted to try the gluten free chocolate and strawberry cheese cake.
So here are the nitpicks.
1. Deanne wasn’t working in the evening and the table I thought was reserved for my party had a couple sitting at it when we arrived. Another couple who walked in just before us got the last table for four on the balcony so my group of three was seated at a table for six. I think had we arrived after the next lot of guests there would have not been a table for us on the balcony at all. My table reservation was a communication breakdown. If this hadn't happened I may have awarded 5 stars overall.
2. We had to ask for serving utensils for our shared plates as didn’t want to use out eating utensils.
3. I had asked twice to see the wine sommelier for by-the-glass wine recommendations for our main courses and our mains arrived before he did. We left it to his judgement and the wine matches were exciting - a French white for me (150-ml at $12) and a Chilean malbec and a French red for the steak eaters (75-ml at $7 ea). Didn’t see the bottles, which would have been nice for a wine geek like me but they were detailed on the receipt and was able to Google them later.
4. We learnt a lot about our server’s personal life and I wonder will he ever get to Halifax.
In summary possibly one of the best wine lists in Auckland, definitely on the Hibiscus Coast; delicious food with my snapper five star restaurant quality and the steaks delivering way above the $22 price point (although sides had to be added) but service definitely on pointe with what you’d expect in a bistro-styled restaurant.
Dined 7 Feb 2017. Total bill for 3 people $198.
The balcony was perfect for dining on a very humid summer evening and was full. Not sure how many people dining inside or drinking at the well-stocked bar at the opposite end of the restaurant. Didn't use the bathrooms so cannot comment on those. Next time - because I am sure I will be back.
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