Taste the mo­ment

Swing on over to the Viaduct for cock­tails and more

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CON­TENTS -

RESTAU­RANT + WINE Para­sol & Swing Com­pany On the way

It was a crime against cray­fish. A trav­esty of crus­taceanal pro­por­tions. Re­ally, I should have known bet­ter.

The Para­sol and Swing Com­pany is fa­mous for its drinks and its view. The bar menu is so big, it comes in book­let form. The food menu is so small, it fits on a sin­gle page. (In both cases, the font is so tiny it will not be your fault if some­thing catches fire, be­cause you’ve had to move it closer to the read­ing can­dle.)

This is a dimly lit space with a clien­tele yet to reach peak mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion. They don’t need spec­ta­cles or the torch func­tion on their phone to or­der a cray­fish waf­fle ($20).

Who am I kid­ding? They won’t be or­der­ing that waf­fle. They’re Tin­der-savvy and they know a cat­fish when they read one. I learned the hard, chewy, overly salty way.

In short: the cray­fish waf­fle was not great. But — and I mean this so sin­cerely — there is plenty to rec­om­mend about Para­sol and Swing Com­pany.

It’s the most-re­cent win­ner of the “out­stand­ing new venue” cat­e­gory of the Auck­land hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try’s Lewisham Awards. Alumni in­clude Amano, Saan and Wood­pecker Hill. My ex­pec­ta­tions were high.

In­side op­tions in­clude ta­bles and couches un­der a para­sol-stud­ded roof — but don’t let win­ter de­ter you from a prime Viaduct vista. The deck is well-heated and all that money is so pretty at night.

You could just choose a cock­tail from the ex­ten­sive list con­ceived by the team be­hind the very ex­cel­lent Mea Culpa. But here’s what makes Para­sol and Swing so good: tell the knowl­edge­able friendly staff what you’re feel­ing, and they’ll mix the mo­ment ac­cord­ingly.

I wanted an aper­i­tif. Some­thing grape­fruity, maybe. I got a ne­groni ($20) with a twist of bit­ter orange peel and a sin­gle, dra­matic is­land of crys­tal­clear ice. I felt like a grown-up and not in a “where did I put my glasses” kind of way.

Erica had a rye whiskey-based (and ab­sinthe slicked) Mus­ket Trader ($18). It was heady with fresh sage. I’ve seen fewer herbs in an ac­tual herb gar­den and won­dered how all that green­ery played on the palate. Her ver­dict: “The sage worked on the nose as an aro­matic that made me feel more out­doorsy and sea­far­ing than the drink it­self. It was fresh and tasty enough but didn’t quite pack the punch of its name.”

Chris­ten­ing cock­tails must be fraught. Para­sol and Swing has given it­self an en­ter­tain­ing back­story that is worth read­ing on­line (while you re­search the menus you won’t be able to see at the bar with­out a torch). It pays homage to the noble craft of bar keep­ing and its drinks traverse the ro­mance of tinc­tures and elixirs and those ex­plor­ers who sailed for hot­ter, spicier climes. I was, well, se­duced by May­fair Se­duc­tion (creamed caramel and ca­cao nib vodka, etc) — a smooth $20 fin­ish to the night.

And yes, along the way, we did find some things we re­ally liked on the food menu. Tuna ce­viche ($12) packed a wasabi, soy and fresh ap­ple punch. The tem­pura cala­mari ($14) was the light­est and crispi­est I’ve en­coun­tered — any bar who still has bowls of squid on their menu should pop along for a les­son. Tapi­oca fried chicken ($13) was juicy and crunchy and the yuzu aioli ($2) was ex­cel­lent.

We split a vege burger — crumbed field mush­room on a brioche bun ($14) — and en­joyed the savouri­ness of its miso-dressed slaw and egg­plant chut­ney. Car­bo­hy­drately-speak­ing, it was def­i­nitely ca­pa­ble of soak­ing up an­other cock­tail but I wanted some­thing sans al­co­hol. Gin­ger? Thoughts? The bar­keep de­liv­ered the most amaz­ing house made honey-lemon-gin­ger syrup and soda ($5). Ev­ery flavour de­fined and, when I mud­dled them with my straw, pure essence of de­li­cious­ness.

Yes, they use straws — but only when ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary. Two of our drinks came with­out and the staff do all their tast­ing and test­ing via re­us­able metal. They’re on the look­out for some­thing that won’t turn to card­board mush.

Some peo­ple, said the bar­keep, take a long time to drink a cock­tail. But not as long, I nearly said, as it might take to chew that cray­fish.

Para­sol & Swing Com­pany 7/204 Quay St , Auck­land Ph: (09) 366 3948 We spent $165 for two. Rat­ing: 14 — Good Out­stand­ing (19-20), great (16-18), good (13-15), dis­ap­point­ing (the rest).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.