Si­mon & Lee

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - Greg Bruce

SET-UP & SITE The best part of Par­nell has long been the lower part of St Ge­orges Bay Road and its sur­rounds, far away from the noise and weird mix of very good and very bad food that makes up much of the main strip. Down and around lower St GB Rd, things get a bit more real. It’s gritty Par­nell, or as gritty as it gets, and it’s where Si­mon & Lee wisely set up its brash and bril­liant ri­poste to the bucket of sim­i­lar­ity that has lat­terly in­fused the Auck­land brunch scene.

SUS­TE­NANCE & SWILL At first skim, the menu ap­pears to be a stan­dard Euro­pean- style brunch, with your bene­dicts and waf­fles and eggs on toast and mush­rooms, and you’re drift­ing into a fa­mil­iar reverie, then — BANGO! — out of nowhere comes some kim­chi or yuzu or ac­ti­vated char­coal or con­gee or mahn du guk, and sud­denly the whole thing feels fresh and alive. It’s a menu that chal­lenges you but not too much. It says, “Don’t be afraid to leap! Si­mon and Lee are here to catch you!” I like the idea of sweet break­fasts but the op­tions at most brunch places are mostly just gussied up lol­lies and if I wanted lol­lies for break­fast, I would buy a packet of jet planes. But Si­mon & Lee’s sweet op­tion is black waf­fles ($ 19) with gra­nola mas­car­pone, maple can­died pancetta, char­grilled banana, yuzu and de­hy­drated rasp­ber­ries. The black­ness of the waf­fles comes from ac­ti­vated char­coal but the great­ness comes from the clever com­bi­na­tion of flavours. Its blend of tart­ness, muted sweet­ness and glob­bi­ness make it ar­guably the most so­phis­ti­cated and classy brunch around. The bene­dict ($ 20) with smoked salmon com­prises per­fectly poached eggs on buck­wheat and tapi­oca crum­pets, with just a gen­tle sour­ing of kim­chi. The “hol­landaise” is ac­tu­ally miso truf­fle bechamel, which pro­vides a hap­pily com­ple­men­tary salty note. It’s com­pressed com­plete­ness on a sort- of bun.

SER­VICE & OTHER STUFF Water bot­tles ap­pear qui­etly on your ta­ble and are re­placed as they run low, a touch so sub­tle and so van­ish­ingly rare in the brunch world that you can’t help but love it. Tiny black boxes on each ta­ble of­fer el­e­gant cut­lery. De­sign is on point. Ev­ery­thing is on point.

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