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4 of 5 bubbles Review of Clooney Restaurant

Clooney Restaurant
Ranked #8 of 2,232 Restaurants in Auckland
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $60 - $110
Cuisines: New Zealand
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Full Bar, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Description: Opened in 2006 by owner Tony Stewart, award-winning Clooney offers a unique dining experience in the heart of Auckland’s central city. Located in a once-derelict warehouse, redesigned to create an atmosphere of contemporary opulence, Clooney’s design aesthetic is matched only by its fearlessly inventive cuisine. Chef Jacob Kear has rewritten the narrative for New Zealand food with a progressive menu that gives familiar local ingredients a distinctive, international twist. The accent is on impeccably sourced ingredients, clean and precise flavours, and dishes that evolve to reflect the changing seasons. Chef Jacob Kear draws on an international career in some of the world’s most respected kitchens to give direction to a thought provoking dining experience. Clooney’s menu reflects his passion for foraging, his commitment to locally sourced ingredients and his mastery of both classic and contemporary techniques. Kear’s ambitious tasting menu of over thirteen courses will take guests on a culinary tour of New Zealand. From the lush rainforests of the North to the expansive coastal wilderness of Fiordland, the striking geography of New Zealand’s regions is brought to life on the plate. Clooney’s wine list is curated by sommelier's Jarod Santana and Grant Dingwall with wines chosen to perfectly complement our distinctive menu. The list spans over 300 labels, striking a perfect balance between the Old and New Worlds while showcasing the very best of New Zealand. Our cocktail and sake programs, under the direction of Jarod and bar manager Yusuke Sakabe, are designed to be enjoyed with food or simply to be enjoyed.
Hamburg, Germany
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 26, 2010

The venue and the interior design is quite interesting.It is quite dark in the restaurant and also the bar area but you get used to it after a while.The Restaurant got a classy touch but the furniture and design is quite modern.The food, as expected, is quite expensive and the dishes are pretty small as well but everything was very nice presented and delicious.The Service really looked after us and they were able to explain all the items on the menu in detail.It was a brilliant dinner and evening.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
1 Thank mariecathrin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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769 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
136 reviews
53 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 424 helpful votes
“Modern and Great Creative Food”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 3, 2010

This is one of the best places to eat in Auckland. I eat out 200+ times a year worldwide and can readily say this is my favorite in Auckland. The decor is modern and urban. Food is fresh creative if not California style fine dining. Truly worth a trip.

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2 Thank FlyOneWorld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney Australia
Level Contributor
94 reviews
33 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 158 helpful votes
“Funky, romantic, brilliant food! -”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 20, 2010

We ate at Clooney Restaurant on valentines day for which they do a special set menu. In summary we thought it was outstanding on every front.

The service was attentive but not intrusive. The food was fabulous.

The restaurant on first entrance seems very dark as it is dimly lit, but as your eyes adjust it's fine and spots are provided so there's no issue with not being able to see what you're eating when the food is brought. In between courses they seemed to adjust the lighting.

The decor is really funky. We were seated at a large round booth where we could snuggle up with eachother between courses, this is an ideal place to come with your partner. The large booths also help to ensure that you're not crammed on top of other diners. There's a sense of privacy and intimacy. Our booth was surrounded by a floor to ceiling black fringe which was pretty cool, but you could see through it.

We wanted something special on this night. We sure got that. We loved Clooney!!

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3 Thank Snodge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cardigan, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Style over substance and very very overpriced”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 22, 2010

I'd wanted to visit Clooney for a while - as a passionate cook (and head chef in my own restaurant) I'm always on the lookout for interesting restaurants to visit which seem different to the norm. I'd been looking at Clooney's website at home in Wales and decided that this was the one around Auckland I wanted to try.

The area of Auckland (Sale Street) where the restaurant is is like an industrial estate and the restaurant itself is in an old warehouse type building. The inside is very very dark - we almost needed torches to get to our table. There are floor to ceiling black chiffon-like curtains which are intended to section off various seating areas. Tables are black hardwood with black placemats, chairs are brown leather. Whilst I'm sure the look is very cool, it was far too dark in there for me and it had a very uncosy, unintimate feel. It was only when it started to get busy around 8pm (we were there on a Saturday night) that it felt like there was some ambiance.

My basic humble opinion of the food is that it didn't deliver on taste, flavour or texture and the food and wine were both very overpriced. Perhaps we are just not used to Auckland city prices.

Food:- we were brought a salmon and kingfish tartare with yuzu foam and tobiko as a pre-appetizer (with the compliments of the kitchen) which for me was the best part of the meal and a nice touch. The yuzu foam was excellent and really went well with the fish.

For starters I'd ordered crayfish consomme with a silken tofu 'pannacotta', kingfish and salmon pearls which was extremely overpriced at $28. The consomme was good, but there were 5 large cubes of kingfish swimming in it - far too big pieces (would have been better if the raw fish had been shaved or very thinly sliced) and I felt like I was chewing my way through lots of raw fish inbetween taking spoonfuls of the consomme. The silken tofu 'pannacotta' was bland and I couldn't see what it brought to the party in terms of flavour or texture. My husband had the quail, foie gras mousse, pear and mustard dressing for his starter which he said was excellent ($26). I felt very disappointed with my starter, perhaps I just chose badly.

Main courses were just OK. I had duck leg confit ($40) which came with a single slice of roast duck breast meat, a parsnip puree (could barely detect any parsnip), some prunes which were meant to have been marinated in Pedro PX, and an apple and elderflower jelly which was thoughtfully presented on an apple crisp so it didn't melt on contact with the hot food. I liked the fact that you melted this into the rest of the jus yourself but would have liked more elderflower and apple flavour. A side salad of chicory, apple and walnut arrived minutes after our mains which was nice and unexpected but seemed like an afterthought. My husband had lamb loin ($43) which was very subtle in lamb flavour but well cooked and tender. It came with "olive oil potato puree, almond and fig feuilletine" - I was intrigued by the feuilletine part so I was pleased my husband had picked that main course! It turned out to be some very under-ripe, tasteless figs which were sauteed with discs of almond feuillletine caramel layered on the top. The olive oil potato puree did not taste of olive oil which is a great shame because there are some fantastic NZ extra virgin olive oils. Whilst there was nothing inherently wrong with our meals, we both felt that the menu descriptions did not deliver on the plate and what there was there was far too subtley flavoured. A pity as the menus have obviously been put together with a good deal of thought regarding complimentary flavours.

By this point we felt very underwhelmed by our experience at Clooney that we didn't want to waste more dollars on puddings, which didn't sound very interesting at all and were $18 each. I also noticed it was also $14 for one cheese from the cheeseboard.

Wine - we are fans of Pinot Noir so ordered the Breaksea Sounds pinot which was $64. It was a delicious bottle of wine, but it's worth noting that their entry level for wines begins at around $55.

Service - was functional and efficient but with no charm, friendliness or hint of any personality.

Our bill was $233 and we felt very ripped off considering that this price didn't include desserts or coffee (We'd also had cocktails to begin with
which were $16 each). We therefore chose not to leave much of a tip which we usually would do to reward good food and service.

Clooney was busy on this particular Saturday night (20th Feb 2010) so they must be doing something right, but whatever it is went completely over our heads. We would definitely not return here. This was our last night of out Kiwi holiday before returning home to Wales and I really wish I'd booked somewhere else like Kermadec instead - we had a meal at Bracu three years ago (like at Kermadec, Peter Thornley is the exec chef) which was very very good.

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3 Thank snippetsnoppet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
all over the world on a yacht
Level Contributor
175 reviews
131 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 118 helpful votes
“great food, but....”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 5, 2009

food is excellent! obviously carefully thought out & great attention to presentation & taste parings. with the exception of the "amuse bouche," a smelly old salmon tartare, yuck. GREAT pork, great truffled cake with the beef, really, really good duck confit. YUMMY ostrich seviche.
most of the entrees (starters) not enough in a portion to share a bite with a friend, and some at $26+ need just a little bit of toast or a cracker or two with them, you shouldn't have to buy a whole basket of bread!? sides are extra, even though the mains are all over (at least) $33. what's with that? i don't get this steak-house mentality that has gripped the city. the same amount of asparagus is $2.99 at the market, they are charging $8 or $9? don't remember exactly, but we were horrified. one very, very small slice of a (yes, it was delicious, but still) cheese was $14!! ok, that DID have some crackers with it!
didn't have the wine we asked for on the list. at these prices, update the wine list! (told they hadn't had it in a while.)
service was pleasant but not excellent, as i was expecting for this self-styled calibre of restaurant. lots of RUSHING around instead of gliding good service, perhaps we could just feel it more because we were seated right next to the host's station. people kept popping through between us from the curtains at our back to serve or take away plates in the booth part, very disconcerting.
looong wait between first & second course, even though we let a much larger party go through well ahead of us. the front of house was stiff & awkward, it felt as though they were "allowing" us to sit at our table & eat.
lighting is very dark & atmosphere downstairs is a great exercise in effect for not an awful lot of money...but they need a bit more light in the bathroom area, which is upstairs) so you can see what you're doing up there! really quite smelly & one of the ladies' rooms was permanently locked...why was that? was it out of service? was there a dead person inside? was it so dirty, they closed it? one of the 2 men's rooms were in constant use by women...much to the male clientele's horror. both had pee all over the floor in there, shockingly dirty, i wouldn't have gone in there! yuck.
i'd go back for the food, but the rest was disappointing & the bathrooms were depressing. overall, not great value for money, but the best food i've had in a very long time.

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    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank hedgepig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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