Good Food Guide - - Auckland -

17.5/20 There’s an elec­tric­ity about Cas­sia, nes­tled un­der­ground in Auck­land’s down­town precinct; a com­mu­nal giddy an­tic­i­pa­tion at what will emerge from the kitchen (and from be­hind the bar, be­cause here are some of the best drinks in town – that mar­vel­lous gin list with fine ton­ics, and more com­plex cock­tails). Sid Sahrawat and his head chef Alok Vas­anth con­duct a sym­phony of spice, and their touch is mas­ter­ful – just when you start to won­der if some­thing might be too richly spiced, coun­ter­bal­ance draws your taste buds in an­other di­rec­tion and you find your­self smil­ing yet again at their clev­er­ness. There are mo­ments, too, of ut­ter del­i­cacy, like jew­els of melt­ingly soft cured tuna topped with sweet Bal­main bugs just licked by the flame and ac­com­pa­nied by a dainty cashew cream. Matt Aitchi­son man­ages the floor im­pec­ca­bly and his team con­fi­dently bal­ance per­son­al­ity with poise. 5 Fort Lane, City, 09 379 9702, cas­siarestau­ Din­ner Tues-sat, lunch Wed-fri; larger plates $32-$40 IN BRIEF Food you’ll keep dream­ing about, in a vi­brant sub­ter­ranean set­ting

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