Recently we’ve found that some of the most imaginative and downright delicious food we’ve enjoyed are those little bites designed to accompany a drink – be that a glass of wine, a cocktail or a house-made shrub or cordial. More than a morsel, but definitely not an entrée, these mouth-bursts of flavour are just what you need when it’s just too long until dinner, or too soon since lunch. Tapas to the Spanish, aperitivi in Italian, call them what you like but just keep them coming. With a drink in hand and the kitchen producing the goods, you’re freed up to watch the ebb and flow: the first daters, the ‘haven’t-seen-you-for-ages’ crowd, the family dynamics and those who have popped in for a quick drink and a little something to go with it. In our new series, Bar Bites, we invite the chefs and bar tenders at some of our favourite restaurants and bars to share their madly popular snacks, matched with beautifully executed cocktails and drinks.

Madame George With co-owner Pablo Arrasco Paz exuding immense warmth and welcome on the floor and Andrea Marseglia behind the bar, Madame George is already a good way towards bar nirvana. Then add Chef Patrick Schmitt’s Peruvian-themed food and you’re over the line in anyone’s book. Popping with energy, this tiny restaurant/bar shines on Auckland’s K Road, with imaginative food, creative drinks and a welcoming vibe. Pablo says, “I think that small bites can be passed around, or kept to oneself if you really like them (no judging), becoming rather playful. It is about setting the platform for fun, laughter-filled memories, which is our philosophy for what we do at Madame George.

“We chose dishes that we would like to share with our friends – approachable, delicious and with enough of an element of surprise to stand on their own, make people raise an eyebrow or two and, hopefully, trigger enough interest to break the ice at the beginning of a gathering, encouraging conversation and laughter.”