With America’s Cup in full swing, Team New Zealand represents with a pop-up restaurant, and visiting New Zealand chefs, one who shared NZ specialties during SF Chefs.
As part of the forward-thinking design of Americas Cup Park, Waiheke Island Yacht Club is a New Zealand pop-up restaurant in historic Pier 29, open through December. Walking into the pier structure, there’s astroturf, fancy porta potties, and a giant Yacht Club sign. Entering the airy, warehouse space, untreated wood forms the floor, bar, and walls in space both minimalist and refined. The menu is pricey (entrees from $27-35) and though service is friendly and attentive, the kitchen moves at a slow pace, even during an almost empty lunch. The lunch took over two hours, though 45 minutes before our last dish arrived, I mentioned (more than once) that we had to wrap up. Go when you plan to be there awhile or sit at the bar and order a couple plates.
More importantly: the food. What pours forth from the kitchen are memorable, artfully prepared dishes. Though a lamb entree disappointed in terms of flavor or “wow” factor (particularly at $35), a few small plates and desserts impressed.
Ingredients are dominantly local with key items from New Zealand. Cooking style and inspiration comes from NZ by way of SF. With much of the staff from New Zealand, true tribute is paid to the culinary scene and riches of the country, while Moa beer flows on draft and cocktail recipes are created by NZ bartenders.
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Here are memorable dishes from both meals via photos. You can explore New Zealand flavors at Waiheke Island Yacht Club through the end of December 2013. They also just launched weekend brunch, reinventing the beautiful Mt. Cook Alpine smoked salmon for breakfast with eggs, escabeche, salsa verde, herbs, in hollandaise sauce ($16), as one example of dishes on the brunch menu.