Does anyone remember Iguacu? An iconic restaurant of the nineties and 2000s housed in a glass-house of a building along Parnell Road, in a better time before Parnell’s position as a destination wining and dining area wavered. It has had a handful of occupants, and has also stood empty, since then. But in 2017 Gerome opened its doors and after a recent visit, I feel it is safe to say that Gerome will be here for the long haul.
There is so much to love about Gerome, the first being it serves modern Greek food. Greek food! A cuisine we have been so lacking and yet so wanting for a long time in Auckland. Gerome serves some recognisable iterations of Greek cuisine, such as saganaki, taramasalata, loukoumades, but they each have a twist, and they’ve utilised some of New Zealand’s best produce so the results are sensational.
The second thing to love is the restaurant itself. There is no kitschy Greek paraphernalia, no fishing nets and blue and white washed walls. In fact looking in, you wouldn’t think this was a Greek restaurant at all. The fit out is luxurious and fine. In time perhaps it will date, but for now, it looks like it came straight out of an interior design magazine, with its ink blue velvet banquettes, polished brass finishes and dark marble bar.
The menu is designed to share (in my opinion, this is the best and only way to eat), so come with a couple of people if you want to properly sample the menu. Three friends and myself had come together to celebrate our friend Sigourney’s birthday, and we started off with the mezze-style platter, kefalograviera, lamb kofta and burnt eggplant. The mezze platter came with buttermilk pita breads, smoked hapuka roe taramasalata, beetroot tzatziki, house olives and sumac. The pita bread was fluffy and charred lending a slight smokiness. I adore taramasalata, this sharp, salty dip is so moreish. All of our small dishes were outstanding. The pan-fried semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese known as kefalograviera, was served with peppered figs and Northland honey and perfectly toed the line between sweet and salty. Gerome specialises in cooking their food over charcoal and wood-fire, and their burnt eggplant and lamb kofta benefit from their smoky touch. Any fan of eggplant would be well pleased with this unctuous specimen, contrasted with crispy fried shallots. The burnt pepper sauce accompanying the lamb kofta is another exemplar of the benefit of the barbecue with its subtle sweet smokiness.
Watermelon and slow cooked lamb, sounds kind of wrong, but is oh so right. The deep savouriness of the fall apart lamb is offset by the refreshing sweetness of the compressed watermelon, tied together by the nutty flavour of tahini and pine nuts. The market fish, in our case John Dory, was perfectly cooked and accompanied by pistachio, salty, tangy capers and burnt butter.
The only dish a little off kilter was the loukoumades, the Greek answer to doughnuts. The small fried pieces of dough were a little tough and dry, and the accompanying chocolate, coffee and hazelnut flavours a little lacking in imagination compared to the dishes that came before it. I loved, however, the ekmek kataifi, a trifle of sorts. A shredded filo pastry similar to knefe lends a beautiful crunch against the background of soft custard and berries, but be prepared for the metaxa (a Greek liqueur) because Gerome is generous with their booze!
Gerome is a restaurant that ticks all the boxes: beautiful atmosphere, wonderful service, and incredible food. So what are you waiting for?
269 Parnell Road
Ph. (09) 373 3883