“Truth” comes to Okahu Bay.

Metro Magazine NZ - - Contents - Simon Wil­son

Simon Wil­son eats at True Food & Yoga.

Shock­ingly, there were no RHOAKL stars in True Food and Yoga ei­ther time I vis­ited. There goes my the­ory about this place be­ing the near-per­fect ex­pres­sion of a cer­tain Auck­land zeit­geist. Bron­agh and Ste­phie Key were there, how­ever, hav­ing a nice quiet lunch. Are they higher or lower on the peck­ing or­der than Cham­pagne Lady? It’s so hard to keep up.

The food is very, very good. Chef Nic Watt, the en­tre­pre­neur be­hind Masu on Fed­eral St, is the real deal: a tech­ni­cal ex­pert whose ev­ery dish re­veals a strik­ing cre­ative con­fi­dence. A sim­ple nicoise salad is el­e­gantly pre­sented, the in­gre­di­ents care­fully cho­sen — in­clud­ing hunks of smoked ka­hawai and those large white an­chovies known in Spain as bo­querones — but its real treat is the dress­ing, a com­plex play of sharp, sweet, clean flavours.

Raw king­fish with an ap­ple and grape­fruit dress­ing is a fresh-flavoured de­light. Clams are served with the stan­dard ar­ray of chorizo and a broth of Asian flavours, with char-grilled sour­dough, the dish done so well I doubt there’s a finer ver­sion of it any­where in town. There are tasty and em­i­nently mor­eish lamb cut­lets, per­fectly roasted salmon, de­light­fully light pavlo­vas made with matcha green tea, pas­sion­fruit and co­conut cus­tard. And a “miso salty” that’s pretty much the last word in choco­late in­dul­gence.

The crab burger, which they call the “rebel war­rior”, is worth a trip on its own: a whole soft-shell crab, crumbed and deep fried, smoth­ered in spicy mayo and pok­ing out in all di­rec­tions from a su­perbly light brioche bun. If other restau­rants are watch­ing, and they should be, this dish could sig­nal the end of slid­ers. Who wants dinky lit­tle morsels when you can wrap your laugh­ing gear around some­thing as won­der­fully fun to eat as this?

And there’s more: the great, great sides. Crushed edamame and mint; sauer­kraut and kimchi; a magnificent half of roasted cau­li­flower with al­mond hum­mus poured over. All you other restau­rants with your bor­ing old beans and nuts? Nic Watt is laugh­ing at you.

There’s a breeze off the wa­ter and a large shaded deck to en­joy it on. The fur­ni­ture is sim­ple: blond wood and comfy cush­ions. The view through the po­hutukawa and across Okahu Bay is de­light­ful, the wine list per­fect to ac­com­pany it.

They make their own in­vig­o­rat­ing juices, beet­root this and car­rot that, just as you’d ex­pect from a place that of­fers yoga and other health ser­vices on the side. Ac­tu­ally, it’s not on the side: True is more than half­way to be­ing a spa, com­plete with break­fast, lunch and din­ner.

They should build an­other floor on top and add half a dozen bou­tique ho­tel rooms. Evenings with the sun­sets, morn­ings on the wa­ter in a kayak, yoga and eat­ing in-be­tween. An Auck­land zeit­geist for sure, or an eastern sub­urbs one at least.

It’s not ac­tu­ally heaven on earth. The fitout is very nice but not es­pe­cially in­spired. The ser­vice can be slightly wob­bly: at lunch, two of us or­dered a dish each and a third to share. One of the mains didn’t ar­rive. We sat, wait­ing. And wait­ing, un­til the maître d’ re­alised and al­most ran back to the kitchen. The miss­ing meal came speed­ily out: some­one had left it sit­ting at the pass. I should say that in my ex­pe­ri­ence that can hap­pen al­most any­where, but on this oc­ca­sion the place was nearly empty and it was a sur­prise.

What’s true about True? The in­gre­di­ents are lo­cally sourced, ev­ery­thing’s or­ganic and so on, and the whole place is en­tirely fit for pur­pose. True to it­self: a restau­rant for its lo­cal com­mu­nity, shun­ning os­ten­ta­tion, of­fer­ing com­fort food to the com­fort­able, and do­ing it with­out high prices, too.

As for RHOAKL, I like to think there’s a rea­son they weren’t there, de­spite Strange_G liv­ing just up the road. The place is posh but it’s not bared-teeth glam­orous and isn’t try­ing to be.

I re­mem­ber the dis­ap­point­ment we felt at Metro when we de­cided Ham­mer­heads, the pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tion of this restau­rant build­ing, was no longer good enough for our Top 50 list. An in­sti­tu­tion in a great lo­ca­tion, a for­mer win­ner of the best seafood restau­rant award: you don’t make those calls eas­ily.

I’m so pleased the place is back. Nic and Kelly Watt, co-in­spi­ra­tors, should feel very proud.






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