You could hop on a plane to Apia, or you could amble down to Federal St in Auckland and experience a taste of the Pacific at Metita, SkyCity's latest flagship eatery.

Granted, the Polynesian islands offer other attractions, but the culinary journey is similar at Metita, the third venture for Samoan-born chef Michael Meredith. 

Situated in the SkyCity Grand, Metita has some big shoes to fill, taking over the location from Sean Connolly's Gusto. Before that, it housed Peter Gordon's Dine restaurant.

Meredith, who named the restaurant after his late mother, has taken clear inspiration from his Samoan background by using fresh, flavoursome ingredients – though he has factored in a modern twist.   

 Michael Meredith showcases his Samoan upbringing. (Image: Metita)  

We booked for an early table on a Wednesday. 

The place was humming – a multi-cultural mix of locals, international tourists, businesspeople and guests of the Grand.

Classic tones and a multicultural dining experience. (Image: BusinessDesk)   

Meredith's team took it in their stride, with the kitchen crew and front of house unflustered and getting plates out at pace. 

The kitchen, like Ben Bayly's Ahi down the road, is open-plan, so if there were any signs of stress, I didn't see it.

Understated deliciousness

The room's ambience also exudes calm, with soft lighting and muted furniture tones. 

The menu is as advertised. The new twist on the old theme becomes evident at the top of the snack menu. An otherwise understated corn beef bun is uplifted with lardo and caviar, and the fried lamb rib is served with coconut caramel and perilla leaf – a popular choice with Korean diners.

The simple things are also done well, not least by the Waiheke oysters served raw with hibiscus vinegar. We only had one each – something I will make up for on my next visit.  

Metita offers a couple of sharing menu options, three- and four-course menus, which come in at $85 and $140 per person. We opted for the latter and left it totally at the chef's discretion. 

We could have thrown in a tasting beverage match for another $80 but decided we weren't quite thirsty enough for that.

Pacific dishes reinvented at Metita. (Image: Metita)  

Slow braised option

I did opt for a pickled pometia as a pre-dinner drink. That featured an 'island lychee', Cardrona distillery gin, elderflower vermouth and pickled longan. It was a stiff drink with a stiff price, at $26.

Off the a la carte menu, our five dishes would have come in at $185, so there was also some financial advantage to be had.

Our mains included kingfish served with tamarind, tomato jelly, and shiso ($30), and slow braised lamb shanks – with a coconut gravy, misiluki (green banana) and sesame – at $75. If I had to nitpick, I would've liked more gravy with mine.

Carrot convert

The fe'e (octopus) served with charred onion, mitihue (fermented coconut) and radish, was delicious and tender. We weren't huge fans of the sauce there, however. 

It came in at $28.

I'm not normally rabidly obsessed with roasted carrots either, but the kitchen elevated their version – served with drauni kari, cashews and yoghurt – to an art form. 

I stand converted.

Metita also caters for larger groups, with a private, well appointed dining room available for between six and 24 guests.

The room also features a quite beautiful ceramic mural, created by Amanda Stowers of Masina Creative and signifying Meredith's journey and connection with his late mother Metita.

Metita is at SkyCity Grand, 90 Federal St, Auckland.

09 363 7030

Bookings are encouraged.