Where: Level 1, 50 High Street, Auckland City
Value for Money: 4
Overall score: 4.25/5
When the word ‘honeycomb’ is written onto a menu, I instinctively think of the confectionary—take some sugar, heat it to a caramel, add sodium bicarb and watch it chunk up into a hard, golden, airy sugar lump that you find in the middle of Crunchie or Violet Crumble bars. When it’s put on the menu of Vivace (with gorgonzola and figs) I wondered how it would work. So I ordered it.
And then I got a square of fresh honeycomb in a small dish with a generous slab of soft, salty gorgonzola and two chunky sweet dried figs. Even with bread, there is no dainty way to eat honeycomb. The wax gently resists attempts to cut into it my compressing and sticking together, causing the thick viscous honey to ooze around the plate, and even when you get it onto the bread it oozes through to coat your fingers as you try to cut one handed into a dried fig. Then, when you finally pop it into your mouth you’re hit with a salty cheesy taste from the soft gorgonzola and then have to resist the urge to lick your fingers.
Or you could just lick your fingers. I highly recommend it.
Situated on High Street in the CBD, just behind the main road of Queens Street, Vivace is a large, first floor restaurant with a cosy atmosphere featuring wood, candles and simple open shelving and metalwork. I went on a Thursday night and the place was surprisingly quiet, although it’s higher price point relative to some of the surrounding restaurants might explain that. In any case, it’s worth a trip. In addition to the gorgonzola tapas, I ordered slow cooked beef ribs on risotto because beef ribs are one of my favourite foods of all time. There’s something beautifully excessive about the size of a beef rib bone, Vivace cooked the ribs perfectly, the meat falling off the bone and pulling apart with just enough give on the fork and in your mouth. It matches excellently with the risotto underneath and there’s a generous serve of gravy that provides both extra peppery flavour and thick sticky, oozy goodness to smear over the beef.
Basically, I loved Vivace. The staff were attentive, but not overly so, and more importantly the food was excellent. Sure, it wasn’t taking huge strides in combining cuisines and non-standard flavours, and its plating is more honest than ‘cheffy’, but sometimes that’s better than a six course degustation. If you go, expect to pay around $30-$40 for a main, and tapas range from about $10 to $20. I kind of want to go back there, but I feel that I should go check out other restaurants around Auckland while I’m here. But maybe I’ll go back. There’s a fair bit left on the menu to try.
Check out Vivace at http://www.vivacerestaurant.co.nz/