Where to eat for every Level 2 Occasion

Written by Reilly Robson

Aucklanders, languishing over which location to choose for your post-lockdown debut? We’re here to help.

After two weeks of Level 3 and more takeaway orders than I’d like to admit (apologies to my bank account), I’ve come to the realisation that what I like about eating out is less having other people cook for me, and more the whole experience of going to a restaurant or cafe. Seeing the people that serve you every time, running into someone you know, being out in the world, all of this was just as distant at Level 3 as it was during Level 4. Now, though, with the return of Level 2, actually dining out is a reality again.

Before we get into the places I’ll be running to as soon as possible, a couple of tips for eating out in a safe, kind way.

  1. Book in advance. If you book your place, you’ll ensure that you have somewhere to sit when you get there. This also helps the place that you’re eating prepare for you, and make sure your table is clean and ready. I’d say you might not have much luck walking into popular restaurants in the next couple of weeks, but if you book you’ll be in good hands. Do this for coffee dates, too, just to be safe.

  2. Play by the rules. I know it’s tempting to relax back into normalcy, but if the news from overseas can teach us anything, it’s to keep being safe, even as you’re allowed to do more stuff. That means refrain from hugging those friends you haven’t seen in months (I know this one is hard), wash your hands regularly, and be careful.

  3. Be nice to the staff. Everyone has had a really stressful time recently, and that includes the humans who are serving your food. Make sure you remember that when you have to deal with potential delays or issues, and if you can, tip your waiter.

For wines with the (less than 10) friends you haven’t seen in months — Clay, K Road

If you’re sick of drinking alone at home, at Level 2 you can drink with friends, a metre or so apart, at a venue of your choosing. Clay is, in my opinion, the best place to get your natural wine fix out of a spate of new openings in the last 6 months or so, and the food is damn good too. Call up your 9 closest friends, and get on down there.

For taking your Mum out to a late Mothers Day meal — Amano, Britomart

Level 2 might be your best chance to get a table at Amano, which is always booked out with tourists and downtown businesspeople. They reopen on Sunday 17th May, and it’s the perfect spot for taking Mum out for a fancy, belated Mothers Day. Beautiful fit out, great food, efficient service, what more could you want?

For when you want to reintroduce yourself to the central city — Cassia, CBD

It’s weird to say that Cassia, a restaurant which has been named the best in Auckland multiple times, is underrated, but I feel like there are plenty of people that overlook this (literally) underground spot. Chef Sid Sahrawat takes some familiar Indian flavours, and some less so, and turns them up to 11 with high quality techniques and ingredients. If going downtown doesn’t stress you out too much, this is the perfect first stop to get back into city life after a couple months in the ‘burbs.

For your first real date with your Zoom crush — Céleste

If you’ve been getting flirty online through lockdown, and think now is the time to make it IRL-official, then head to Celeste, for a romantic evening of wine and delicious food. Celeste is a fan-favourite for a reason, and that’s because the vibe is top notch, perfect for date night, and if it turns out they aren’t as nice as you thought, at least the food is delicious.

For your first Sunday brunch — Williams Eatery

Charles and Patrick Williams’ Wynyard Quarter cafe, Williams Eatery, is more or less the objective ideal of the modern cafe. Good, consistent, specialty coffee, food that’s delicious but not challenging, good music and a clean, modern fit out. If you’ve been missing your weekly brunching action, there’s no better place to throw on your activewear and caffeinate. We’re hoping that their comfort-food-heavy takeaway menu sticks around a little longer, too.

If your post-lockdown resolution is a plant-based diet — Forest

Forest does fine dining, completely plant based. There’s no better place to head if you’ve decided to finally go all in on veganism, or even if you’re still tossing it up. If you’re looking to live better, with less impact on the world, eating fewer animal products is a great option, and at Forest you’ll still get a great dining out experience while feeling better about yourself.

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