Origine

By Cuisine5 Minutes
February 12, 2023By Cuisine

IN BRIEF

French classics remastered to include well-considered Kiwi influences.

WHY CHOOSE THIS RESTAURANT?

Origine co-owner and Kiwi uber-chef Ben Bayly says, “The French love to eat and they know how to enjoy a meal. We want to convey a sense of this with Origine – presenting the classics but in our own way.” That’s a huge challenge given the intricacies of French cooking and our particular fascination with the provenance of French food, the techniques French chefs have gifted the cuisine world and the richness and complexity of many of their dishes. In large measure Origine succeeds. If you are looking for authenticity, you will likely find it; if you want a menu unique to Auckland, you will have it; if it’s an exciting alternative to the ubiquitous bistro food on offer around the city that you’re searching for, this is where it’s at. Service is good, some of it superbly knowledgeable, the drinks list is French-focussed and carefully curated and the atmosphere is calm and professional.

ABOUT THE MENU

This is a menu that will have you salivating. It really is an impressive listing with particularly enticing hors d’oeuvres and entrée sections which tease with options such as tarte fine aux escargot, raviole d’abalone and faux foie gras des landes. A standout was the terrine. Terrines and patés are experiencing a surge in popularity but it is difficult to get these just right in terms of texture and flavour balance. Origine’s rendition could not be faulted; it was appropriately firm but light and moist with each mouthful delivering a new experience of freshness. The gougère – smallish mouth bombs of choux pastry with tomato, goat curd and honeycomb – were excellent as was the beautifully presented veal tartare with tarragon. While these hit the mark, there was a soupçon of disappointment with a couple of other dishes. The woodfired duck breast with chou farci was very tasty but lacked the texture a crispy skin would have provided. We were uncertain about the need for so many other elements on this dish some of which, such as the stuffed cabbage, were a distraction. The bouillabaisse de coquillages was a truly impressive mountain of local seafood including Cloudy Bay clams and Whakatōhea mussels. It arrived with a tasty saffron mirepoix and rouille liaison. However, it really needed more of the liquor to ensure everything held its heat and that the top of the dish was as tasty as the bottom. Desserts are typically French in style with a soufflé, éclair and an assiette of strawberries on offer. We shared a glazed éclair with chocolate ice cream and candied pistachio which turned out to be the perfect way to end the meal.

ABOUT THE TEAM

Origine is owned by two couples extremely well versed in the operation of high-quality restaurants, so you know from the start the attention to detail and the ultimate satisfaction of the diner is entrenched in the ethos of the place. Ben Bayly and his wife Cara Bayly, along with their Ahi business partner Chris Martin and his French-born wife Lucile Fortuna, have 50 years of combined experience between them, much of it gained in the company of French cuisine and, importantly, the rituals of French eating. They know restaurant operations from kitchen to dining room, out back to front of house, better than almost anyone in the country and they have brought that to Origine.

The quartet leads a 40-strong team that includes executive chef Thibault Peniarbelle (Tibo). Thibault was born in Noumea, grew up in Toulouse and has been living in Auckland since 2011. His partner Judika Ramcharand was born and raised in Montréal and is Origine’s restaurant manager.

OF NOTE

We are suckers for impressive dining spaces, the ones that make you feel you are somewhere so rarefied it’s unreachable. This place has one of the best views in the city especially if you can organise a table close to the louvre windows.

Level 2, 172 Quay St, Commercial Bay, Auckland
Check website for opening hours
MAINS: $33 – $51
CONTACT: 027 6744 463
WEBSITE: origine.nz