There’s been a lot of unpredictable wild weather in recent weeks. Luckily, there are plenty of local food and beverage offerings to distract you from the wind and rain.

Filipino fare

Carlo Buenaventura’s restaurant Bar Magda is the perfect place to escape from whatever the weather’s doing in Auckland and enjoy modern food from the Philippines. Tucked away downstairs in Cross Street, near Karangahape Road, it’s a cosy spot for a cocktail or dinner with friends. New winter-menu dishes include barbecue octopus, almond satti, preserved kohlrabi and whipped duck fat. “Satti, or satay, in the Philippines is more sour and spicy, very different from [satay from] neighbouring countries Indonesia or Malaysia,” Buenaventura says. Another new dish is beef short rib, based on a classic tiyula itum from the Tausug tribe, as well as barbecue confit parsnips with daikon, coconut aioli and almond noisettes. New seasonal cocktails are on offer, too.

Bar Magda's barbecue confit parsnips with daikon, coconut aioli and almond noisettes.  (Image: Bar Magda)

Stars are aligned

MASU in Auckland’s Federal Street dining precinct is bringing to life a vivid celebration of Japanese mythology and culture. Tanabata, also known as the “star festival”, runs from July 1 to Aug 12 at MASU. Tanabata guests will enjoy a bespoke Haku Vodka cocktail menu, contemporary Japanese fare, beautiful light displays and customary Tanabata “wishing trees”. The restaurant’s award-winning mixologist, Akira Ohki, has crafted a menu of bespoke Haku Vodka-based cocktails, available during the celebrations. They include Tanabata Bamboo – cacao-infused Haku with mango and strawberry; Kintsugi – flavours of banana, pineapple and coconut with a gold garnish; Orihime – featuring cherry blossom mirin, strawberry and vanilla; NZ Tanabata Harvest – truffle-infused Haku, with apple and pear; Blue Okawa Star – blue curacao with pineapple and yuzu; and Hakutini, made with Dolin Blanc and yuzu. Tanabata bookings are essential and can be made via MASU.

Sound and vision

The Digital Dining Room is an immersive-dining experience pop-up in Ponsonby that’s part of Elemental AKL 2022. Guests will feel like they’re being transported around the globe with a series of projections, imagery, sound, lighting and carefully curated dishes. The experience includes a five-course degustation dinner and international beverages that complement the menu. The event will be held on Ponsonby Road over three nights – Thursday, July 21, to Saturday, July 23. Each evening is limited to 90 guests. Tickets at $575 a head can be bought at

New beginnings

New French bistro Origine is set to open in the former Saxon + Parole site in Commercial Bay, central Auckland, in early August. The venture is the brainchild of chef and restaurateur Ben Bayly and his wife, Cara, along with Ahi’s Chris Martin and his French-born wife, Lucile Fortuna. The vision is that of a modern French restaurant with a relaxed New Zealand atmosphere. Origine will be open seven days for lunch and dinner.

From left, Origine's Chris Martin, Lucile Fortuna, and Ben and Cara Bayly.

For the young ones

INCA Ponsonby has launched a special kids’ menu designed for discerning younger palates, perfect for that early-evening dinner with the junior members of the family (or weekend lunch). On the menu: guacamole, edamame beans, salmon sashimi, tempura prawn or karaage chicken tacos, eggplant tempura, corn and sweet potato fritters, chicken karaage and, to finish, kids’ (niños) churros with chocolate sauce. Available seven days at INCA Ponsonby. Reservations at

Seventh heaven

Like to dine in high places? Seven at The Muse Art Hotel on Christchurch’s Manchester Street is on level, ahem, seven, underneath the Instagram-friendly Pink Lady rooftop bar. Described as a “food-centric wine bar in the sky”, it offers diners panoramic views across the city and tasting plates by two leading local chefs. There’s a great selection of vegan dishes to choose from.

Fresh French 

Wynyard Quarter and Britomart French pâtisserie La Petite Fourchette has opened Copain at 55 Mackelvie Street in Ponsonby, a space previously occupied by Il Forno for many years. Copain is a French boulangerie/pâtisserie, where the talented team makes artisan breads and viennoiseries using traditional French recipes. As well as sweet baked goods, Copain sells fresh baguette sandwiches, raclette panini, pies, saucisses  briochées, quiches and croques. It also stocks beautiful terrines, pâtés and cured meats from L’Authentique Charcuterie as well as cheeses from @latelierdufromage.

Only 500 people are granted membership to Thursday at any one time. (Image: Thursday)

Outlook for Thursday

Privacy is the name of the game at Thursday, a members-only bar on Auckland’s Symonds Street that’s open, as you’d expect, on Thursday nights. (It’s available to members for private functions on other days of the week). There’s a no phones, no photos policy – what you see in the bar stays in the bar. Membership to Thursday is free, but you can’t just turn up and get in. Only 500 people are granted membership at any time. Thursday co-owner Daniel Hopkirk says the bar is cocktail- and champagne-led, with the latest creation, the Feijoa Sour, “a crowd-pleaser”. Thursday has a new general manager, Sasha Aguirre. 

Sad news

The effects of covid-19 have taken their toll on West Auckland dining institution The Tasting Shed, which has gone into liquidation. After more than a decade at the helm of the award-winning destination restaurant, owners Ganesh and Jo Raj made the very difficult decision to wind up operations. The restaurant’s last day of trading was June 12.

Follow Penny at @pennylewisnz