Salty, sweet, tangy, tart, crunchy and surprisingly light, the goat cheese croquettes with Kaimahi honey at Apero are the perfect start to any dinner. I’ve had them many times before because I have to say, unreservedly, that I love Apero.
It ticks all the boxes. Location: A grungy spot mid K Road. Fit-out: I could be in New York, London, Melbourne. It’s relaxed, comfortable, effortlessly cool. Service: Ismo Koski (ex maitre d’ at Sidart and Merediths) runs the show here with ease and charm, offering the kind of chatty, casual service that’s also so slick and professional that within minutes you’ve completely abandoned your own decision-making ability to his expertise. Wine list: Thoughtfully chosen, really interesting and affordable. Menu: Small and perfectly formed. You can come in for a glass of wine and a snack, or make a real meal of it. Chef: Imagine having a very best friend who is also an amazing cook and has made you a really special birthday dinner. That’s the atmosphere chef Leslie Hottiaux (ex The Grove, Baduzzi) creates.
On a recent visit we came for something special and specific: the rib-eye of beef, 750g, $100. First we whet our palates with the forementioned croquettes, forgoing the amazing charcuterie, and nibbling on a generous slab of duck terrine and a warm bag of La Voie Française bread with butter while waiting the 45 minutes for our meat. We had the kingfish too, plump meaty and firm, with tiny pieces of grapefruit, pickled cucumber and avocado crème.
The rib-eye is perfect for four people, a beautifully medium rare piece, on the bone. It came out perfectly rested, carved and accompanied by (not enough!) potato gratin and plenty of vegetables, roasted mushrooms with garlic and herbs, and the special of Brussels sprouts that could convert even the most fervent refusenik (I was with one of them). Mo perfectly matched the beef with a gutsy South African Meerlust red. If you didn’t fancy the rib-eye you could enjoy sausage by the metre. Genius.
To finish you can have cheese, chocolate, freshly baked madeleines or a plate of Apero sweet treats— tiny petit fours bursting with flavour. We had them all. Why not? I don’t know when I’ll be back. Who am I kidding? I’ll be back next week.
Apéro is at 280 Karangahape Road, Auckland.
Ph (09) 373-4778.