Step into Sunset – the rooftop bar at Auckland’s Sudima Hotel.
Bar food has literally reached new heights. Kim Knight takes the elevator to the 10th floor and delivers her verdict.
In their own words: “Look beyond…Cocktails. Bites. Sunsets.”
First impressions: Why
am I wearing a sweater and sneakers? Why don’t I have a beige off-the-shoulder silk pantsuit with a key card in the pocket? Why have I spent so many Fridays after work in dodgy pubs with sticky floors and toilet doors that don’t close properly? Sunset Bar, atop Auckland City’s new Sudima Hotel, is a glamorous space with sparkling views of the Waitematā and an outdoor balcony that faces the Waitākere Ranges. This place has made an effort and so should you.
The neighborhood: Unless you’re staying here, working near here, attending a conference (assuming the convention center ever opens?) or buying a bagel, you’re probably not going to find this place by accident. It’s a few streets west of the main CBD – but if you’re planning on finishing your night in Ponsonby at least, you won’t have to negotiate too many red cones along the way.
In the kitchen: Executive Chef Harmeet Singh Nanda is said to have collaborated with Christchurch’s 5th Street Samson Stewart and Maximus Perry to produce a snack menu that doesn’t skimp on spices or (unlike at the East ground floor restaurant) protein at meat base. Side note: Cazador Deli stocks the addictive chili and peanut condiment on 5th Street. My current domestic consumption is on average one jar per week.
On the floor: It’s a bar but there is table service but there is only one paywave transaction per table. Or something like that. To be honest, I lost track. Maybe just set up a tab from the start.
The menu: At first glance, you’re in standard bar food territory. Only nine items (including a salad and a pudding) with all the usual suspects – sliders, fried chicken, fries, etc. Be prepared to exceed your expectations…
Best Bite #1: This is not so much an isolated element as a general observation. The sunset knows its sauce. You’ll want to lick all the plates (but don’t, because it’s not that pub with the sticky floors). The Tangy Clevedon buffalo curd was a great addition to the lamb skewers, but my favorite was the toum. This Lebanese garlic sauce (like a slightly grainier aioli, minus the egg) comes with vegan kofta and if there was bread on the menu, I would have ordered it just to max out this sauce.
Best Bite #2: Just when you think you’ve seen all the sliders under the sun, along comes a carb-on-carb creation that doesn’t seem to work, but it seriously does. The rolls were packed with hash brown cake, creamy feta and plum chutney. Imagine Auckland’s famous Satya dahi puri in mini burger form and you’ll get the gist.
On the side: The true measure of a great bar is how they treat the woman who arrives 30 minutes before her co-workers who are still glued to the floor in that pub. “There will be more of us, I promise,” I said, requisitioning a premium table for six. “No problem at all,” said the charming woman who brought me a heavy tendril of Campari and a bowl of very good nuts. Set the tone for your evening with this generous blend of pecans, cashews, et al. Sweet, spicy, salty – and considerably more sophisticated than your average pub peanut.
The jury is still out: Does a tiny part of me wish the Sudima had stuck to its vegetarian philosophy? Does Auckland really need more fried chicken bowls? Yes, said my table, ordering a second helping and also the masala fries. As the old saying goes, you can’t take the reporter out of the pub.
Dessert: At first, I wondered about the presence of a dessert on a bar menu. And then I imagined myself late at night, lost in that sight, sipping cocktails and looking deep into the soul of a vanilla and cardamom parfait. Sold.
Perfect for: The dates, the late nights, and the Friday nights when you made the effort to wear something other than elastic pants and flats.
We spent: $171 on substantial snacks for six (drinks were extra).
Address: Sudima Auckland City, 10th Floor/63-67 Nelson St, Auckland, Tel. (09) 399 2367.
by Yvonne Lorkin
Obviously, there’s someone in charge of the drink list at Sudima’s Sunset Bar who is curious, adventurous and happy to pick up customers and take them on a colorful and tasty ride. Craft beer lovers will find solace at Deep Creek, Garage Project, Sawmill, Urbanaut, and Morningcider, but don’t panic if you check out their online wine list. Their website only lists their bottle prices, however, visit in person and you’ll see they have an impressive 24 wines available by the glass, all for between $13 (Meltwater Marlborough sauvignon) and $21 (Moet & Chandon ). There’s also a handy key to whether wines are organic (O) or natural (N) – and there are LOTS of O’s and N’s on this list. Try a flute of pet nat from Victoria’s Days & Daze, a blend of pinot blanc and sauvignon blanc from La Monella in Marlborough for $16.50 or a Mt Edward gruner veltliner for $16. Funky chardonnays from 144 Islands in the Bay of Islands and Helio in Hawke’s Bay can be sipped alongside Soave (so-ah-vay) from Veneto and Beautiful Chaos syrah from Seresin and their ridiculously lovely Zosia Rosé. Blends of Merlot and Malbecs galore like Decibel and Stone Paddock and a delicious blend of Grenache from Fond Croze in the Rhône can be chased down with a super sweet Sauternes, which is a deliciously decadent dessert wine from Chateau Villefranche for just $16. . So if you fancy taking a walk on the wild side of wine without giving your wallet heartbreak, then Sunset Bar is the place to do it. Top marks, sunset!