Le Garde Manger deserves a shoutout as our absolute favourite French restaurant in Auckland, really. We have been here numerous times over the past couple of years – usually for brunch, but also twice for dinner, and this place has yet to disappoint us.
There is an extensive menu of crepes and galettes (buckwheat crepes) available for brunch, as well as various aperitifs (alcoholic beverages served before a meal). The crepe belle-helene (poached pear, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce) and crepe suzette (crepe with orange syrup flambeed at the table with Grand Marnier) are my personal favourites. On the other hand, the boy tends to prefer savoury meals for brunch, so has usually opted for the galettes – he was a big fan of the la limousine (buckwheat crepe with steak mince, mushroom, tomato coulis, and egg). Their ciders are an excellent accompaniment to the meal, as well.
Despite being an authentic French restaurant with all the trappings, their dinner menu is fairly reasonably priced, with mains in the $20s and entrees in the $10s. Their escargot is excellent – not at all like the overdone rubbery bits that tend to put folks off escargot, and their French onion soup was lovely and thick with generous servings of cheese and croutons.
In terms of their main dishes, I’ve never managed to get past their duck confit – can’t bring myself to order anything else if it’s available. Rich flavours of duck melting in your mouth, with a delicate hint of orange – absolutely divine. The boy has tried their coq au vin and beef bourguignon – both were good, though in my opinion they pale in comparison to the duck confit, and the coq au vin might strike some folks as a tad too simple for a restaurant dish.
As the cherry on the top, their decor makes you feel right at home, with checkered tablecloths and little candles. Their service is always friendly, though it was a little slow for one of our dinners – to be fair, though, that was on Valentine’s Day, so perhaps they get a pass on that one. Do go, try their crepes and escargot and duck confit, and down one of their aperitifs traditionnels with it.
Disclaimer: They have two branches – one on Queen St and another in Kingsland. We have only ever been to the Queen St branch, so the above review may or may not apply to Kingsland.
|Cost:||$15 – $40 pp|
|Value for money:|