Location: 226 Ponsonby Road, Auckland
Scran: Everything at the moment reminds me of The Fast & The Furious so I’ll try to restrain myself and not construct any parallels between Prego and, say, Tokyo Drift, third installment of the Fast & the Furious franchise. The fate of any article heavy on pop culture references always lies in the balance. Anybody who has read Chuck Klosterman’s musings on Marilyn Monroe vs Pamela Anderson knows what I mean. So instead I’ll just talk candidly.
I never go to Italian restaurants in the UK. I just don’t see the point. Here’s my rationale: I am fairly adept at cooking Italian food, so why pay a bomb for it? Particularly when the choice isn’t going to be between braised oxtail and spaghetti al nero di seppia. It’s going to be a pasta or pizza dilemma. Indian food on the other hand? As a rule the restaurants are: lean on the wallet; rich on the selection of stuff I can’t cook myself. Are you feelin’ me? I think you are.
In Auckland the Asian food is f**kin’ A so when the Englanders decided to class it up last night and go to Ponsonby’s European chic restaurant Prego there could have been a bit of a schism. Fortunately I thought I better of it and kept schtum…
So how did it pan out? Well it was our last night in Auckland and I didn’t have the pasta. I didn’t have the pizza either. I had the baked whole snapper, a fish (along with John Dory) I have wanted to have pretty much since my first day in New Zealand. Job done. I ate snapper. A perfectly cooked snapper with tarragon, onions, olives and peppers. That’s as good as scran gets. Everyone else enjoyed their meals if that’s of interest. We all enjoyed the shared bread starter – a lot better than most Italian bread, which can be a bit hard and chewy. I destroyed my ‘budino di datteri’ dessert: sticky date pudding (Italiano?) offset by sweet, piquant slices of poached pear and a ginger ice-cream full of warm spice.
Postprandially there seemed to be a fairly ubiquitous consensus that Prego had just delivered the best meal of our stay in Auckland. I don’t know if it was my best meal. It might have been. It didn’t surprise me. But then should that matter? Does price also matter? I know it was four times as expensive as my other two best meals. Was it four times as good? Definitely not. For that reason I’m putting it as number 3 on my list of places to go in Auckland for scran. Next time: numero duo.
Price: $60 for three courses (including wine)