When I put the call out for Auckland recommendations, @ryanpoet and @MetcalfeEliza chipped in with Merediths. This restaurant runs a vegetarian degustation on Tuesdays, and this commitment to meatless meals motivated me to book a solo table for Friday night, when they offer a nine course degustation to everyone with the usual accommodation of special diets. I asked for their best collection of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
I began with a G&T, then left the alcohol alone - I needed my wits about be for photographing, describing and appreciating all these courses on my own!
The meal started back-to-front with these savoury petit fours - paprika-dusted meringues with a bloody Mary filling, and a slightly sweeter beetroot meringue sandwiched with yoghurt.
The bread started too hot to handle, with a high-contrast thick crust and soft centre, and was served with olive oil.
The next entree maintained the dessert-ish theme, combining fresh raspberries, raspberry sorbet, cherry tomatoes, citrus-infused grapes, tomato water, chia seeds, and sorrel. It was lovely summery rendering of sweet and sour.
Introducing more stridently savoury flavours, this dish folded avocado mousse between layers of pickled celeriac as if to make tortellini, then covered them with shaved cauliflower, fennel and radish, apple matchsticks and apple jelly, then finished with crunchy scatterings of buckwheat, dehydrated olive and fried onion.
In an unexpected nod to raw 'cooking', I was served linseed wafers, with dehydrated carrot and mushroom, chickpea puree, and other fresh vegetables.
Caramelised zucchini arrived in a pool of chlorophyll dressing, dotted with macadamia cream then topped with dehydrated red cabbage and mixed greens.
In this dish mushrooms were presented three ways - as a paste, tender and lightly cooked, and roasted to chewy caramelisation - and teamed with edamame, a tahini cream, coriander flowers, and broth.
This nest of asparagus, broad beans, haloumi and almonds concealed a soft-poached egg, pea and rosemary puree and a mustard and chilli sauce. I enjoyed picking from the top a while, then once I hit the egg it added a richer dressing to the vegetables. I liked the effect, but I liked the herbal flavours of the puree even more - I reckon there's a subtler vegan dish hiding in here.
This bowl served as both palate cleanser and dessert. Inside to outside it contained coconut and lime cream, freeze-dried citrus fruits, vanilla bean and sago, and grapefruit granita.
The final course was a much heavier concoction of Vahlrona chocolate mousse, blanched almonds and candied almond skins, beetroot sorbet and beetroot leather, rhubarb syrup and a sherry topping. I nursed it for quite some time, skipping either side of the dividing chocolate wafer, a little sad that my meal was coming to an end.
This easily rates amongst my favourite degustations - yep, right up there with Attica. The springtime produce was beautiful and not weighed down or upstaged by butter, cheeses or oil. The arrangements were varied, featured lots of my favourite ingredients, and I was impressed by the couple of vegan cooking tricks that popped up along the way (dehydration, macadamia cream). I couldn't nominate a favourite or least favourite dish - the meal was an utter delight from start to finish. All I could do was swoon quietly by myself in the absence of a dining partner (... and then post photo after exultant photo to Michael as soon as got back to my laptop). If you have a fine dining wishlist, place Merediths at the top of it.
The meaty menu at Merediths gets rave reviews on Eat Here Now and Auckland Food Blog, and you can read about a masterclass from Michael Meredith on my dining journey.
365 Dominion Rd, Mount Eden, Auckland
+64 9 623 3140
9 veg courses NZ$140 ~AU$125
Accessibility: I recall a wide flat entry, spacious table layout and full table service. The toilets were gendered and roomy with handrails. Lighting was a bit dim after sunset.