Address: 10th Floor, 63-67 Nelson Street, CBD
Contact: (09) 399 2367. Open Thursday to Saturday from 4 p.m.
Drinks : Fully Licensed
From the menu: Poppadoms and avocado $12; fried chicken $15; potato burgers $14; lamb skewers $20; “Crunchetta” salad $14; masala fries $12
Reservations: not accepted
It’s a shame to visit a rooftop bar in cloudy weather, but if you had waited for a day in Auckland without rain this winter, you would never have left the house.
Sunset Bar is at the top of the Sudima Hotel on Nelson St and faces north towards the Harbor Bridge and beyond but, like at the excellent Palmer Bar a few weeks ago, all we could really see was the rain beating against the window.
However, I understood the essential. It’s an expensive new cocktail bar with room for hundreds, and in the summer those big doors will swing open and guests spill out into the early evening sun, the altitude creating if not quite the genre of emotional wreckage you get from watching a movie after a glass of gin on a plane, at least enough otherworldly high that you end up drinking more than you should and doing things you maybe shouldn’t -be not.
In my late twenties, I was insured against these dangers, my rock ‘n’ roll behavior these days being limited to ordering more food than bare necessities and maybe undoing an extra shirt button afterwards. 9 p.m.
That’s not the kind of behavior you find in a tell-all memoir, although there’s a good chance tell-all memoirs will die out soon anyway, given that anyone, however mildly famous, documents their life in real-time via a constant stream of photos and videos streamed to the phones of anyone remotely interested.
What will they tell us in their autobiography? The name of the filter they were using?
Hotel bars have pros (good air conditioning, generally excellent service) and cons (difficult to create a mood, high chance of sharing the elevator with a man in a robe) but overall the pleasures of Sunset l outweigh the pain.
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It’s a lovely softly lit room, quite unlike anything else Auckland has to offer, and the chemistry was really good until a conference full of business people came in and made us feel for having organized a private reception.
But the staff didn’t blink or waver, and we never found ourselves waiting for anything, despite ordering quite laborious cocktails and every item on the menu.
So yes, the food. It’s a menu that didn’t thrill me as much as I had hoped, firstly because their choice of genre – Indian street food – didn’t really seem to fit the environment.
Most are fried and spiced, not the kind of light delicacies you would usually serve to handsome city dwellers who sometimes forget to have dinner.
Like, there is no fish on the menu, let alone raw fish, the one dish that all other restaurant menus in Auckland have in common.
Everything tastes good even if nothing tastes amazing. The chicken – chunks of thigh, fried to be both tender and crispy – is enough more if you can handle the curry mayonnaise, that store-bought curry powder flavor being something of a polarizer.
I also liked the vada pav, a street snack I discovered a few weeks ago in Mumbaiwala and was going to try recreating at home before looking at the deceptively complicated recipe for something that’s basically a potato burger.
Sunset’s version was tamer, but still good (I mean who’s going to complain about carbs on carbs?) Although when I ordered another one later that night they had slipped a bit, this patty potatoes looked more like mashed potatoes than hash, perhaps a sign that the kitchen was under pressure.
“That’s the kind of salad I would make,” Ben said when the freshest dish on the menu arrived, and he didn’t take it as a compliment. Consisting of a torn iceberg (it’s all over the place now, maybe the alternatives are too expensive) and sliced radishes, it wasn’t objectionable, but not the kind of special menu creation I think l location deserves.
Still, with sour yogurt and mango chutney, it tasted good and was a welcome cold refresher among all those other hot spicy bites.
The lamb skewers were probably the best thing on the menu – juicy and heavily spiced, they were served over buffalo curd and a delight if, again, they felt a bit too common next to the impressive cocktails they were seated.
You should start with one of those elaborate and special house cocktails, and there’s a good wine and beer list if you’re still thirsty after that.
The staff are warm and friendly, with a few exceptions, but it’s not quite like being in a real restaurant – they’re good at taking orders and making you happy, but they’re either too new or too in a hurry to spend a lot of time talking to you about what’s going on. on offer.
You better think of Sunset Bar as an exciting hangout for a cocktail, where you can’t really go wrong on the drink menu and where you’ll find great food, if you remember to order it.