I inexplicably suffer meal-envy at restaurants. I have to restrain myself from peeking at the next table’s dishes to see if that’s what I should have ordered. Okay, I always peek. Ordering is a wrought decision, which is why restaurants such as Wooden Board Kitchen is a godsend. I still agonise over my decision, but being able to order a range of small plates spreads my risk of being stuck all evening with the lamb when I should have gotten the squid. This way, I get the lamb and the squid, oh, and the haloumi as well. I’m sure a glutton thought up this way of eating, and I thank her with all my heart.
Wooden Board Kitchen is located on Upper Queen Street, just off Karangahape Road, tucked into the side of a building. It is unassuming, so look out for the large timber sign and the fairy lights. The menu consists of starters, ‘stingy plates’ (which are starter sized, $7 – 9) and ‘generous plates’ (which are main sizes, $18 – 24). Several of these are served on (you guessed it) wooden boards.
We were a party of 14, sitting alongside another party of about 16 students, so it was really lively and I could barely hear myself speak. The staff took it all in stride though; the two wait staff and two chefs got the meals out in reasonable time I thought. Unfortunately, most of the small dishes came out tepid.
I was recommended the pulled braised beef ($8) and the pan-seared scallops ($9), and I rounded it with a vegetarian dish of honey roasted beetroot tart ($8). I was tempted to get a fourth, but the friendly waiter advised that 3 was plenty and I could always order another later. Good advice.
The pulled beef came with ‘Asian*’ slaw in a shaped flaky flat bread. The slaw of carrot, red onion and savoy cabbage was tossed in a version of a nước chấm dressing. The beef was so tender, with a hint of sweetness. This was the pick of the dishes, absolutely delicious.
I was disappointed with the beetroot tart; the beetroot was cold and not caramelised, it needed to spend a lot more time in the oven and the puff pastry was dry and bland. The classic combination with caramelised onions, cream cheese and balsamic reduction was tasty.
The scallop, although also tepid, was done well. The was sharpness from the chilli in the tomato and avocado salsa went well with the sweet scallop and the crunch of the pangratatto (fried breadcrumbs).
The larger dishes looked great. We were recommended the braised pork shoulder ($20) which came with kumara croquettes, sautéed savoy cabbage and smashed granny smith and apple cider sauce. I tried some, and it was meltingly tender. The pan-fried snapper ($24) was the special of the day. The Angus cheese burger ($18) looked like a popular choice, and the tiger prawn spaghetti ($20) is dressed with chilli, garlic, fennel and lemon.
I would come back to Wooden Board Kitchen in a small group. The food is tasty, the presentation is nice and the staff are friendly and helpful. It is great value dining.
* I am having a few bad weeks with people referring to Asian as a generic adjective, which to a Malaysian-Kiwi Chinese person doesn’t mean anything. How do you define half the world into an adjective?
Wooden Board Kitchen
2/4 Upper Queen Street, CBD, Auckland
Ph: 09 – 309 277
Mon – Fri: Lunch 12 – 2:30pm, Dinner 5 – 11:30pm
Sat: Lunch 11:00am – 3:30pm, Dinner 4:30pm – 2am