Chef and owner, Pasture
There are no tables at Parnell’s Pasture, and the restaurant only has room for six. Diners are seated at the chef’s counter – a high bar beside the open kitchen, offering a direct view of the three chefs creating the restaurant’s multi-course tasting menu.
It’s all part of chef Ed Verner’s unique vision. “I set the restaurant up, I do the cleaning, I polish the glasses,” he reveals of his unorthodox approach. “You’re not served by front-of-house people anymore – you’re completely immersed in the chef’s way of doing things.”
Verner’s menu shifts with the seasons. In autumn, that means diners can expect quince, celeriac, artichoke and apple served alongside Pasture staples such as sourdough (made from hand-ground rye flour), aged wagyu beef and an unusual drinks list featuring an array of natural wines.
On his way to the restaurant in the morning, Verner often stops by Espresso Workshop to grab, according to him, the very best coffee in Parnell. On the weekend, he recommends the suburb’s two markets, La Cigale and Parnell Farmers’ Market. “They are the best markets in Auckland,” Verner says. “I don’t think anywhere else compares.”
At La Cigale, he says, you’ll find seasonal produce such as gooseberries, blueberries and fresh oysters, while the Parnell Farmers’ Market has heirloom tomatoes and Jersey cow milk, which Verner incorporates into his creations at Pasture.
Chef and owner, Patisserie Vaniyé
Sonia Haumonte has watched Parnell transform over the seven years she’s spent at her French patisserie, Vaniye. “It just seems more alive,” she says. “It’s not what people thought Parnell was anymore.”
Born in New Zealand to Thai and German parents, Haumonte grew up in Thailand, studied in France and now creates classic pastries with a twist. Step inside Vaniye and a cabinet filled with macarons, cakes, slices and tarts greets the eye, along with handmade chocolates and organic jams.
“We like to preserve the French tradition, but we go a little bit more modern with the flavours – a little bit of the Asian side and the Middle Eastern side,” she says. Indeed, you’ll find Chiboust mousse flavoured with matcha, red-bean mascarpone crémeux, black-sesame sponge and lychee macarons sitting side-by-side behind the glass.
On days off, Haumonte relaxes by walking through the Parnell Rose Gardens, which have expansive views of the Waitematā Harbour. She’ll also stop by the red-brick Jubilee Building to pop into the library or one of the little shops within.
“The nice thing about Parnell is that it’s [made up of] a lot of small, independently-owned businesses,” she says. One homewares store at the Jubilee Building, Corso de’ Fiori, is her standby for picking up gifts. On the main street, she recommends Gerrard, which sells a collection of beautiful handmade leather bags.
Florist and owner, Grace & Flora
Hannah Low developed an appreciation for flowers early, thanks to her mother and grandparents, all accomplished gardeners. A fine-arts degree at university gave her practice at combining colours and textures, and a few years in floristry supplied the confidence to open her own store, Grace & Flora.
Low’s style abandons the formality and regularity of traditional floristry – her designs are “relaxed, organic, and a little bit wild” – and she loves to experiment. “The flower market is constantly changing with the seasons, so there are always new tones and varieties to play with,” she says.
Low praises Parnell’s sense of community – locals fiercely support the neighbourhood’s boutiques, pop-ups and small businesses – and she’s excited to watch its growth.
When it’s time to relax, she visits the Beauty Bar, “a little haven for holistic facials, massage and skincare”, for a signature facial. The treatment incorporates all-natural skincare products and massage based on traditional Chinese medicine: “It’s tailored to your skin type,” Low adds.
Modern café Winona Forever is a favourite brunch spot. Low recommends the Eton Rifle Pavlova – brioche French toast topped with meringues and fruit – or the Ladyboy, which is a twist on eggs Benedict that comes with prawns, chilli brioche and tom yum Hollandaise. “They also have a mouth-watering cabinet of sweet treats, such as mascarpone doughnuts, and fresh salads,” she says.
And if Low needs inspiration, she heads to the lush green walkways of the Auckland Domain, where flowers and succulents flourish year-round in the glasshouses of the on-site Wintergardens.
Tailor and owner, Doran and Doran
When premier Auckland architects Fearon Hay got hold of a rundown cluster of 1940s warehouses – buildings which had been used to store wool for export – something magical was bound to happen. All the architectural firm needed was a new studio, but instead they transformed the block on Faraday Street into a micro neighbourhood of offices, eateries and shops.
One of their new neighbours – which includes the Korean-inflected café Simon & Lee – is tailor Paul Doran. Doran trained as a lawyer, but he has worked as a tailor his whole life – from a teenage job after school to stints on Savile Row in London.
Doran’s boutique, Doran & Doran, is restraint personified: the clothing on display is tightly edited, precise and crisp, and encompasses both bespoke and made-to-measure garments. “We pull out everything extraneous – we’re focused on fit, colour, fabric,” he reveals.
For a caffeine fix, Doran heads to Red Rabbit Coffee Co, an artisan roastery that imports single-origin beans from around the world. “They roast on-site – they’re experts if you want good coffee,” he says. Around the corner, the artisanal bakery Daily Bread is a regular stop-off, especially as Easter approaches: “You can’t miss their hot cross buns,” he says.
At the end of Faraday Street, Doran recommends an excellent Spanish tapas and wine bar, Barulho, with an open courtyard that’s unusual for Auckland. “The menu changes every day – they do amazing paella, the best I’ve had outside Spain, and any of the fish dishes are incredible,” he reveals, adding that regulars know to request for the off-menu taco.
This article was originally published in the April 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine