New Zealand: Hector’s Herbivore Heaven

February 3rd, 2012 · Lisa · restaurant review, Travel · Comments
During the 11 days I spent in New Zealand I only ate at a restaurant once. I wanted that meal to be memorable. It was. (See Below):So, let’s say you’re in Auckland, you’re vegan and you’re looking for an elegant evening out on the town.The first thing you need to do is find some friends. The most important selection criteria: 1) good appetites and 2) reliable sharing practices.

Second, find something in your suitcase that doesn’t look like you already wore it on the Tongariro crossing. It doesn’t have to be a ball gown but it should look okay when worn without hiking boots.

Third, head down to Hector’s and put your meal in the hands of their amazing (and vegan!) executive chef. The menu isn’t entirely vegan but there is enough careful attention to the culinary needs of their herbivorous clientele to make each plant-packed bite a memorable experience.

Plus, it is all very well labelled with a little green V. Don’t you just love green Vs? I’ve come to adore them and the accompanying legend, V= vegan.

Doesn’t Hector’s look extra swanky in black and white. It’s all that distressed wood.
The art deco decor of this refurbished downtown department store adds an air of sophistication to their courtyard diningroom.

My dining team started our eating adventure with a small wedge of warm, herb-infused bread served with tiny bowls of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. After our appetites were aroused by the amazing aroma of the bread we got down to the business of ordering.

This is when your friend selection comes into play. If you’ve chosen well then everyone will pick a different appetizer and entree to enjoy and feel no ownership over the dish they’ve ordered. This arrangement allows you to maximize the diversity of deliciousness you get to devour while limiting the fullness factor in the equation.

We started to get anxious for the appetizers. 

I ordered the Baby Beet and Orange Saladwith beet paint and dehydrated black olives.

Two of my table mates selected the Red Pepper and Tomato Tartlet including an apple plum dressing.

One of our teammates chose a side of steamed vegetables instead of an appetizer. It was early on, we didn’t have our game strategy down. Despite the doubling up and the detour the appetizer course satisfied everyone. The attention to detail, the vibrant flavours and the pleasing presentation made it a great start to a fantastic meal.

I will never forget those dehydrated black olives. Absolutely brilliant!

Excited about the entrees? I was too!

We shared:

Bread Crusted Tofuwith potato and avocado mash, raisin puree and herb dressing.

Macadamia and Herb Roasted Eggplant Filoserved with braised winter greens, corn mousse and wakame tea powder.

Truffled Field Mushrooms plated on top of seared polenta, spinach sauce and garnished with wakame seaweed.

Every single selection was stellar. The flavours were bold, each plate offered textural contrast and careful balance of sweet and savoury. I was very impressed.

Anyone desiring dessert?

This when you might start to question your team. Will they remember to share when presented with a plate of delicious decadence? I suggest making the first move. Cut up your dessert into equal serving sizes for everyone at the table, it sends the right message 🙂

Our sweet selections included:

Cinnamon Banana Fritter complimented by a roast grape salad, saffron syrup and a carob ball.

Strawberry Sorbetpaired with coconut mousse, shortbread crumble and raspberry lamingtons

Macadamia and Rhubarb Baklavasoy cream with limon cello macerated strawberries

We didn’t have a perfect score, somehow our desires and distastes for certain ingredients took over and we failed to order one of the vegan entrees, one of the vegan desserts and two of the appetizers.

But…that gives me four more reasons to return.

It was an amazing evening, with a really fun group of friends. I enjoyed every bite, laughed a lot and wished that another visit would not require me to endure a 24 hour trans-pacific flight.

I miss you already, Auckland.

If you’re ever in the area I encourage you to make a reservation, round-up some special dining companions and wear something with a little stretch.

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