Lauraine Jacobs

Food Writer and Author of Delicious Books


28 May 2012


Pictured above is spiced duck tongue in baby cos leaves and a knuckle sandwich made from a miniature brioche loaf stuffed with pork knuckle and a herbal jelly. These were just two of the palate tempting tasters brought to our table when we arrived at the hottest new restaurant in Sydney, Sixpenny.

Sixpenny is a tiny corner restaurant in suburban Stanmore, a leafy suburb to the north west of Sydney University, and is owned by two passionate guys, Daniel Puskas and Jimmy Parry. The pair, so proud of their food, carry much of it directly from the kitchen to the table – made easier by the fact that there are a mere six or seven tables and the menu is either a six or an eight course dégustation. Reservations are increasingly hard to come by as right now Sixpenny is the name on every Sydney critic’s lips.

I have never eaten a meal before where almost every course was white. White food on white plates. But this was food so delicate, so tender ad so innovative that the lack of colour didn’t matter a fig; it is food to swoon over. After our ‘tasters’ we were plied with a well conceived menu designed around superb produce from not only Sydney’s best suppliers, but with veggies and fruits from the chefs’ own garden in Mittagong, which I believe is quite a distant drive away.

Blanched but crisp onion ‘shells’ were drizzled with a light broth that was strongly cheddar cheesy in flavour. It was light-as-air food that signalled the inventiveness in the kitchen. We then enjoyed crab cloaked in a silky camomile and macadamia sauce, a delicate salad of juvenile leaves from the Mittagong garden, fresh NZ (!!) snapper in pumpkin seed cream with meltingly soft leeks, a nugget of tender pork on a creamy smooth sauce, some hanger steak with pale smoky cabbage and tiny micro mustard leaves and finally three desserts. All milky white. The sour lemon stuffed with a citrusy sorbet was sharp and refreshing, but the piece de resistance (and there was no resistance) was some Jersey milk ice cream with burnt butter. Heaven!

I specially loved the opportunity to chat with the chefs as the meal progressed, and would go back in a heart beat.

Sixpenny, 83 Percival Rd, Stanmore Sydney 2048 T 02 9572 6666

27 February 2012


Last week I ate a very stylish Korean restaurant. Faro Korean Grill Dining opened their latest place in Newmarket and it's sleek and smart with light pine furniture and the privacy of individual booths separated by blinds.

This was the first experience of Korean dining I have had (apart from a foray into a Queen St hole-in-the-wall many years ago.) It was tasty parade of treats both meaty and vegetable based and we ended up having consumed almost 20 plates. There was no need to stress about how to order as the menu card comes with clear pictures and all the waitstaff were charming and helpful.

I love the idea of cooking my own meat on the hot plate set in the middle of the table,and we had two different cuts of beef, many pickles, vegetable dishes, fritters and little unexpected treats like rolled squid that all appeared as part of our set menu.

We finished with a stunning combo of rice and a soup. The tasty rice I think, was red rice, while the soup was fishy and I would describe it as the closest thing I have had to a well made prawn bisque. See pic above.

We drank Soju wine, Korean beer (light and delicious) and finished with a sweetish plum tea that my dining companion declared she could drink forever.

Faro, 49 Nuffield St, Newmarket T 09 529 4040

1 October 2011


I love the Grove, which for the last two years has been voted Auckland's best restaurant by Metro magazine.

The dish above is one of the most delicious dishes I've eaten in a restaurant this year. Ben Bayly, the third chef owner Michael Dearth has employed (the others were Michael Meredith and Sid Sarawat - is there something going on with initials here; MM, SS, and now BB?) served this as main course at a luncheon to demonstrate SAMSUNG kitchen appliances. Ben said he wanted the induction cooktop and I want the big doble door Fridge with a wine cooling drawer and a freezer drawer.

The dish is Karitane crayfish, tender poussin topped with purple potato crisps and served on pea puree, spinach and t-dah! the most delicious spring asparagus tips. It was matched with Felton Road's chardonnay and I am going to have to get to the restaurant soon to eat more of Ben's food.

St Patrick's Square, Wyndham St, T 09 368 4129

21 September 2011


OMG. I want to live there. The Grill in Sky City’s Grand Hotel is the best addition to Auckland dining in a long time. Sean Connolly is already well known through his TV3 series “Under The Grill’ (last episode was shown last night.) He’s a highly talented good humoured chef who cut his culinary teeth in Huddersfield many years ago and has been lured to Auckland via Sydney. Nice to see talent heading this way in a reversal of the usual ‘let’s go overseas’ exit of many of our best chefs.

No expense has been spared in creating a seriously grown-up restaurant with the white-tiled kitchen on full view, spacious dining areas up and down, and a stunningly understated private dining room that overlooks the hotel foyer. Full marks to Andrew Lister, architect.

Sean’s food is equally grown up. You can eat as luxuriously as you like. Caviar, jamon from Spain, thick succulent steaks, freshly shucked oysters, garlicky prawns, suckling pig platter for two or more, the freshest of fish, seafood platters that include crayfish, tender seasonal vegetables and those famous Sean Connolly fries, cooked in duck fat. And everything, yes everything is exactly as it should be. The best possible ingredients, all perfectly cooked, perfectly approachable and perfectly understandable.

As for the wines; that’s where I want to live. In that cellar. The list boasts almost everything you can imagine drinking from around New Zealand and beyond. It’s a vast collection and I hear there are plenty of bottles being cellared right now for future diners. Well done Sky City!

The Grill by Sean Connolly, Sky City Grand, 90 Federal St, T 09 363 7067

19 September 2011


Some people get all the breaks. Three glorious days on Vomo while my husband worked on engineering solutions, had us flying ten minutes by helicopter from Denarau to a real piece of Paradise.

Vomo Island may be the most perfect luxury holiday destination in the Fiji Islands. Guests have a villa to themselves, some on the shoreline of a perfect white sandy beach, while others are perched on the hillside with glorious sea views over the canopy of coconut palms. Vomo is kid-friendly too, and there’s enough space and help for the little ones that I hardly noticed they were there.

We enjoyed a daily changing a la carte menu in the central restaurant, overlooking the beach, across the resort pool, and sipped cocktails at sunset in a specially constructed bar at the western end of the tiny island. While I slept late, my husband fished at dawn, returning with a walu that the chef whipped up island style for our lunch.

And after my golf overload at Denarau, I wasn’t tempted by what could be the most unique nine-hole golf course in the Pacific, cleverly constructed over, under and around the palms. But I did spend time reading by the pool, feeding fish that almost nibbled my ankles, snorkelling amongst the coral and observing tanks of baby turtles that are part of the island’s conservation programme. Vomo is a little slice of heaven.

Vomo Island:

26 August 2011


What a privilege. I was asked to cut the ribbon to open Swamy and Padmaja Akuthota's new branch of Satya at 57 Mt Eden Rd last night. First we all set off party poppers to celebrate (that's the picture above, you can make me out next to Susan Buchanan in the hat. William Chen took the pic.) What fun we had.

Then I cut the ribbon and we were treated to an absolutely magnificent feast of delicious chaat (snacks), chutneys, spices, breads, curries and much more. The same menu is available at all four branches of Satya (Great North Rd, K Rd and Sandringham, and now 57 Mt Eden Rd). My absolute favourites are the coconut chutney, the dahi puri snacks, the flaky roti, the tender aubergine curry and their famous Satya butter chicken.

The new restaurant is colourful and comfortable and should be a great joy to those who live in the neighbourhood.

Swamy is modest, honest and the most caring restaurateur in the city. He and his family all share the work, and they are totally delightful. Their wine list is voted on by customers, and they employ reliable and needy students to wait on tables. It's a business model that is worthy of an award. I love this place!

Satya, 57 Mt Eden Rd. T 09 5511000

26 August 2011


I want to go back to Wellington. Mainly to go to Ancestral again. It's the latest, chic-est, craziest,fun-filled destination restaurant in Wellywood, and sits right on that rather sleazy Courtenay Place. Maybe it's even great enough to tip the balance and force the street to be a little more upmarket.

I just can't get food like that here in Auckland. Upmarket Chinese food inspired by Sichuan and Guangzhou provinces, that's beautifully presented and takes your head off with spice-filled injections of flavour and heat. All on small plates.

And that's not all. Service is smart and sassy, the wine list really, really interesting and there's a fantastic selection of whiskies. No expense has been spared on the bar, the interior and even the courtyard that's more than little reminiscent of Matterhorn has heated seats. Wow!

31 Courtenay Place, T: 04 801 8867

30 June 2011


I am happy. My favourite sushi place, Bien, has opened a store in Newmarket. The lovely couple who ran the Shortland Street franchise have taken the innovative step of sharing the space witha gyoza shop.

So sushi and donburi by day, and at night different operators producing fresh gyoza.

Pictured here my favourite lunch; always two pices of smoked eel sushi with four more pieces from a great selection of freshly hand-made offerings. And of course, fabulous miso soup. Love that savoury, umami scent and taste.

Some new donburi on the menu, and they do pre-orders and takeaways!

Bien 53B Davis Crescent T:09 524 2900

2 May 2011


Looking for a new cafe where the food is tasty and little different from the rest? Precinct has the right credentials. One of the Pondarosa Group's new initiatives on Britomart it's open for breakfast and lunch and is aimed at food to go, but there are about ten tables if you'd rather eat in.

Loved the salads (choice of three for $10 or $15 and very tasty) and the sandwiches which had the most interesting fillings I've tried in along time. And we could not resist a lovely rhubarb crumble tart which came with cream and yogurt.

Great coffee and that great sense of style that Brendan Turner brings to everything he does. It's allied with Tyler St Garage, the large casual eatery and bar next door that runs through to Quay St, and the chic Ebisu which is sort of Tokyo meets Surry Hills with great contemporary Japanese food.

My only compaint; the music's too loud to properly conduct business, and after all the cafe is the new office!

17 Tyler St, Britomart T 64 9 300 5275

19 April 2011


I love this place. Only open weekdays for breakfast and lunch, it has a sharp snappy menu, a superb short wine list, two excellent operator/owners Ben Blair and Sven Nielsen, and a talented chef, Rob Richardson (who trained with Martin Bosley, no less.)

A casual but worthy atmosphere, and the menu is printed so I can read it without that's a considerate touch. Proper bistro cooking, that's light enough to go back to work after a couple of courses. The best Caesar salad in town, lovely pasta dishes and oysters fresh from Waiheke that are served properly. (See above)

It sits a level up from Quay St, has a terrace overlooking the waterfont and offers after work drinks and snacks, no doubt for the army of corporate types who work in the glass tower above. Highly recommended.

PWC Tower, 188 Quay St, Auckland City T: 09 357 0188