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“Great Food, Great Atmosphere, Great Night Out” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Clooney Restaurant

Clooney Restaurant
33 Sale Street | Freeman's Bay, Auckland, New Zealand
+64 9 3581702
Website
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Ranked #3 of 1,286 Restaurants in Auckland
Price range: $0 - $90
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Doing business, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations, Late Night
Description: In October 2006 owner Tony Stewart in collaboration with Fearon Hay Architects transformed a derelict warehouse space into a spectacular dining room, creating a completely unique dining experience. The beautiful restaurant once only a concrete frame and block work warehouse, has been reinterpreted to showcase how a marriage of materials comes together to create one harmonious restaurant and bar space. The curvaceous forms, luxurious fabrics and fine textures complete the design and create a space that is sophisticated, sleek and elegant. Design elements complement each other without the need to conceal. The space and materials communicate this to each other and complete the design without overpowering one or the other. All design elements come together evoking a feeling of belongingness while providing intimacy within a magnificent interior.The food, like the design is classic yet undeniably modern.Chef Harris’ cuisine melds the tradition of classical with a contempory approach to ingredients and technique, showing clever techniques and use of ingredients used to stimulate the palate and the memory rather than confuse the mind.The flavours are clean, precise and modern, his dishes are continually in progress, reflecting seasonality, inspiration and evolution.Numerous awards over the past six years have sung the praises of Clooney and their consistency to outstanding cuisine, service and dining experience.Clooney restaurant is located in Freemans Bay Auckland, New Zealand, is owned by Tony Stewart and was designed by Fearon Hay Architects. A relaxed but dynamic dining experience that’s deeply rooted within Auckland’s progressive dining scene.
Atlanta, Georgia
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
33 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
86 helpful votes 86 helpful votes
“Great Food, Great Atmosphere, Great Night Out”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 1, 2012

As people who eat out a lot, Clyde and I tend to favor neighborhood holes in the alls over anything expensive or pretentious. "Special occasion restaurants" are not normally my thing, as, in my experience, they tend to focus on fanfare over food. I'm not interested in paying big bucks to sit in a gorgeous room and be served exquisitely sculpted but mediocre meals by a snooty waitstaff -- especially not when solid, delicious dinners can be had from friendly, passionate people at a fraction of the price.

But last month we elected to splurge on dinner at Clooney in Auckland -- and I'm glad we did, because I had one of the best meals of my life.

And so you'll know: I don't toss around phrases like that lightly. I'm not the sort of guy who pushes back from a hamburger or a steak or a plate of pad thai or a pizza or a barbecue sandwich and says, "Whoo! Best meal of my life!" For me, meals and memories are closely intertwined; the food we eat along the way becomes an integral part of the fabric of our journey. So: when I say "I just had one of the best meals of my life," that means something really remarkable has happened.

And that's exactly what our dinner at Clooney was: remarkable, from start to finish. The magic begins when you walk in the door, encountering a cool, black, lofty space punctuated by low, round tables and crescent-shaped booths upholstered in soft leather. The dining room -- a converted warehouse -- could have too easily been rendered as harsh and chilly, but a clever designer carved the expanse into a series of half-glimpsed, intimate spaces by encircling each with floor-to-ceiling curtains of dangling black fibers.

These curtains serve two purposes. First, because they are semi-transparent, you're aware of other diners -- which is good, because you don't feel creepily alone. At the same time, they serve to make each table feel cozy and protected -- shielded from the prying eyes of others. Second, because the hanging fibers part easily, the waitstaff can pop in out out unobtrusively, filling glasses and delivering plates from any direction.

So: you're inside and seated. The next pleasant surprise? The staff. In the States, I'd expect a joint like Clooney to be staffed by distant, aloof, or pretentious folk: the sort of poeple who can say, "Would you like to see our selection of imported water choices?" without laughing. But here -- and maybe this is just that wonderful Kiwi magic at work -- the staff know the trick of being warm (without being cloying) and human (without pretending to be your new best friends).

Instead of silly questions like, "Do you have any questions about the menu," they offered disarming insights right up front: "You know chefs -- they have a thousand words for potato. So: just wanted to let you know the 'frommage blanc' is actually a bit of cheesecake." Instead of slinging faux compliments about (like my least favorite waiter comment of all time -- "Excellent choice!"), they were able to chat in friendly and accessible ways about the wine choices and the side dishes. Instead of laboring to impress us, they seemed genuinely dedicated to making sure we had a great meal..

Clyde started his meal with salmon and scallops, which arrived nestled in a bed of delicate, savory foam. The salmon looked as though someone had carved it from a small block of orange-pink marble; the scallops were arranged around it like pearls. I'm not sure how these were prepared, exactly, but I do know this: every single bite melted away in your mouth, as delicate as a dream. To boost the delight factor, the entire plate was scented with orange peel and saffron, to boot.

I went straight for the venison -- an odd choice, given that I'm not much of one for, well, venison. My plate arrived laden with exquisite cubes of perfectly-cooked, tender meat, garnished with currant sauce, redfruit, and licorice-scented black barley. I paired this with a side of parmesean fries and tomato salad, and found myself literally swooning over every bite.

Desert? Oh, yes. I didn't go with the "frommage blanc," but I did order the Valrhona chocolate pavé, a decadent "cobblestone" (you know, like you'd "pavé" the streets with) of creamy chocolate mousse and delicate chocolate biscuits, surrounded by strawberries and scented with green cardamom. Clyde wasn't as wild about his buttermilk panacotta (studded with lychee), but friends Tony and Marlene seemed thrilled with their Roquefort Papilion: a collection of madelines saturated with honeycomb.

Perfect atmosphere. Perfect wine. Perfect beer. Perfect service. Perfect food. We laughed and shared stories and made plans far into the night.

At about $100 US per head, Clooney won't ever be your "every Monday night place," but for an adventure we'll always remember ... it was a bargain. If you're in Auckland, just go.

  • Visited February 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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218 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Auckland
Top Contributor
98 reviews 98 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 59 cities Reviews in 59 cities
79 helpful votes 79 helpful votes
“Overrated”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2012

Heard a lot of hype and saw a lot of awards for this place before we came here on an Anniversary Dinner.

The atmosphere is meant to be one of the biggest drawcards, but guess what - its in a dodgy part of town and our car got broken into in the immediate proximity on a visit to a nearby bar on another occassion.

Also, Clooney itself is quite gloomy - a restaurant for ugly people perhaps?

The food was nice of course but nothing spectacular and when rating it for value I would put it very low on the scale given the expensive pricing.

For the price you are better off at The French Cafe. They are about the same proximity out of the CBD and the food, ambience, location and service are all better at the latter.

Visited June 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
“Almost excellent but missing that final polish”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2012

This was my second trip to Clooney in the last 6 months. First trip was mid week in winter when the restaurant was nearly empty and TV cameras were in filming a couple eating. This time it was a Friday and it was full. One goes to a restaurant primarily to eat and the food here was excellent. A confit of Hapuka was perfectly executed with attention to detail . Venison which followed it was unctuous and rich; one of the best venison dishes I have ever had. The wine list was very good and not exorbitantly priced

But, and there is a but, some aspects of the service were amateurish to say the least. If you are going to serve cocktails you need to get the basics right. A martini needs very cold gin, ice cold really. What you really don't want on the first sip is a mouthful of water. A Manhattan is a classic cocktail, you don't expect to have to repeat its name three times to the waitress who thought we wanted a mad hatter what ever that might be. We ended up pouring our own wine as there was patchy attention to the table. Service issues aside it is a very good restaurant and we shall return.

  • Visited February 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Napier
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Sexy”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 3, 2012

Clooneys dining room is a very sexy space indeed. Globe lighting, fringe curtains, round tables with booth style seating. The lighting is designed so that it lights up the plate when it's placed in front of you. Amazing.

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Auckland Region, New Zealand
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Outstanding all round”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2012

Great food, awesome setting, immaculate service, drinks menu definitive. Just be prepared to pay.

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