Origine restaurant is a light-filled love letter to French cuisine that celebrates regional New Zealand produce. An impressive space in one of Auckland's newest precincts, Commercial Bay.
Commercial Bay, in downtown Auckland, is home to a couple of the city's big-name restaurants, including Ahi.
Origine is the vision of Ben Bayly and his wife Cara Bayly. Being in the same building as Ahi isn't the only connection the two restaurants share. Ahi's Chris Martin, and his French-born wife Lucile Fortuna, are also co-owners.
Ben's passion for French food began in his twenties when he spent time living and working in the French areas of Haute-Savoie, Jura, and Paris.
Let me share my culinary adventure at Origine with you.
(Our visit to Origine was independently paid for and as anonymous as possible)
The Look and Feel
Before arriving at Origine, you will have navigated the food court and shops on level 2 of Commerical Bay. Once you have you will find yourself emerging from a dark industrial vibe into an airy restaurant that embraces light.
As your eyes follow the impressive two levels of glass windows, to where they meet with the louvered glass ceiling, you notice the lighting. A canopy of opulent chandeliers and long glass pendant lights above you.
Even though the main restaurant in Orgine seats 100 (plus a 50-seat mezzaine cocktail bar) the space exudes tranquility.
We are greeted warmly as we arrive for a weekday lunch and shown to our corner table for two next to the windows. This is when I notice how gorgeous the view is over Waitemata Harbour. I can't help but gaze at the ferries as they come and go.
The lunch menu is explained and drink orders are taken while we decide on what to order. The service is professional, friendly, and relaxed.
At the top of the menu it states "Seasonality, Terroir, and Technique" and this sums up the philosophy of Origine's food. French cuisine using seasonal local New Zealand produce.
The lunch menu is divided into sections, Hors D'Oeuvres (snacks), A Partager (to share), Fruits De Mer (seafood), Pour Commence (starters), Plats Pincipaux (mains), and Acompagnements (sides). Plus there is a grill section.
I do love the snack section of any good menu, and Origine did not disappoint. We chose three of the four offerings. Foregoing the bread and butter as we would also receive bread with the terrine of the day.
Faux Foie Gras des Landes: A silky smooth quenelle of duck liver parfait sits atop a crunchy toasted round of truffle brioche. This is adorned by sauternes jelly, chives, and a pretty edible purple flower.
Oeuf Mimosa Parisien: There is nothing bland and boring about the devilled Olliff Farm egg. It's both vibrant in look and taste with a devilish dusting of paprika.
Croustillant de Poisson: The croquette is a perfect fried sphere of creamy blue cod encased by crunchy breadcrumbs. Subtle hints of dry French vermouth, Noilly Prat. Topped with sauce royal, paper-thin pickled zucchini, and chives.
Our snacks make the perfect segue to our two starter choices.
Terrine du Moment: The terrine of the day changes frequently, and you will need to ask your waiter for the day's offering. It's served with bread and condiments.
Tartare de Boeuf: A classic beef tartare made with eye fillet. The tartare is pre-seasoned with the usual suspects of capers, mustard, onions, and topped with an egg yolk and chives. Served with larger-than-life, super thin house-made potato crisps.
Steak Hache: Another quintessential French dish. Some may say it is just a hamburger, but it is much more than that. 200 grams of hand-chopped eye fillet steak is formed into a patty and grilled.
The steak hache (along with all the offerings from the grill) is served with french fries, burre d'Origine, house-made yellow seeded mustard, and jus.
Gnocchi a la Parisienne: My main choice and it does not disappoint. Pillowy soft gnocchi made from agria potatoes. Served with greens and a fricassee of Ora's Farm mushrooms. It's exciting to see the dish adorned with shredded fresh lion's mane mushroom.
Origine Final Thoughts
We had the most enjoyable lunch. Relaxed atmosphere with stunning views over the harbour. Service could not be faulted and the food was beautifully presented and delicious.
Cuisine: French cuisine making the most of New Zealand's delicious produce.
Go-to Dish: My personal choice of go-to dish is beef tartare and gnocchi. Though, I believe that you can't go wrong with any of the dishes on the menu, the seafood section is worth exploring.
Great for: Perfect for a lazy lunch, date night, or a celebration.
Cost: Our meal for two was NZ$261 including a few glasses of wine.
Origine is open 7 days a week for lunch from 12pm, and dinner from 5.45pm till late.
Level 2, Commercial Bay
172 Quay Street
Auckland, New Zealand
+64 27 674 4463