If bling is your thing, the foyer of SO/ Auckland, a recently opened hotel in central Auckland, will provide plenty of eye candy to whet the appetite.

It is unashamedly artsy with touches of the baroque, hints of the burlesque and oodles of ostentation. Once you’ve adjusted to the sparkle of a spectacular – if vertically challenging – chandelier, a much less flashy elevator will deliver you to Harbour Society, the hotel’s flagship restaurant on the 15th floor. It’s a considerably more sedate space but with one of the better city views of any Auckland restaurant.

Its austere décor, reflective of the chrome and hard-edged style currently favoured by many restaurant designers, won’t sit entirely comfortably with those looking for plushness and intimacy, but there is a commendable consistency in the look and feel of the place. It’s the view over the cityscape through floor-to-ceiling glass that mostly draws the eye, especially for those fortunate to score a spot close
to the edge. Our table was in the centre of the room, which meant that for us a more mesmerising perspective was the low-slung kitchen full of chefs going about their business. Everything was calm, controlled and seemingly effortless which is all the more remarkable given the meal we enjoyed was complex, considered, artfully constructed and clearly the result of significant planning and effort.

The service did not get off to a great start, it has to be said. The restaurant web booking system is not user friendly and our reservation had us arriving at 7am.