Cassia @ Auckland

May 31, 2016

Named Auckland's best restaurant of 2016 at the city's Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year Awards, Cassia applies a modern artisanal touch to Indian dining, resulting in resonant flavours that are both deep & dense (yes, dense flavours!).

 The tasting menu is likely the best way to experience Cassia - it's quite a journey, from the perfect pani puri, conveying the taste & textures of potatoes, chickpeas & invigorating tamarind, to a luscious ensemble of scampi tail & cured kingfish with coriander & daikon. Through it all, the complex nuances remain faithfully, predominantly & unmistakably Indian, even when roasted carrots & cashew cream come coupled with Italian cavolo nero. Execution is irreproachable - both the lamb rump & free-range pork belly prove beautifully cooked, partnered with spiced eggplant & & whipped goat's cheese for the former, with vindaloo spices, apple & ginger for the latter. Even the palate cleanser is exceptional (curry leaf sorbet with ginger gel & almonds, clearly no afterthought), while dessert is a bliss-inducing tea sorbet linked with almond sponge, hibiscus & ginger.

Wine pairings for this menu are remarkable, with each step meticulously & magnificently planned out - crisp, zesty NZ stone fruits to go with carrots, for example, or a Spanish wine aged for 18 months in French oak barrels to supply a long-lasting finish that matches up with the lamb. The wines help heighten the element of surprise in each course - there were memorable moments we thought to ourselves, hey, this vegetable tastes like murukku, or when we sliced into the pork belly, & the heady aromas wafted out, followed by the spices that kicked in when we took a bite - it's all part of the magic & wonderment here. Check out the cocktails too, which stay true to the restaurant's Indian/Asian themes - the Kashmiri Dragon showcases Broken Shed vodka with Six Barrels feijoa syrup & Kashmiri chilli powder. All in all, Cassia is the kind of place an Aucklander might choose for a great dinner, or the sort of destination an out-of-town traveller may want to bookmark. Reservations are essential.

5 Fort Lane, Auckland, New Zealand

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