Hotel DeBrett has been housing guests to Auckland since the 1840s. I remember going to the Bob’s Bar there in the 90s – it always had a super cool vibe and was a great “people watching” spot. Things have changed since those days of Doc Martens and flannel shirts; DeBretts (as it’s always been affectionately known) has a huge overhaul in recent years, and now is one of Auckland’s chicest boutique hotels.
As well as glamming up the accommodation, the new, improved DeBretts has also risen to the occasion when it comes to food. Kitchen (the hotel’s main restaurant) has been soaking up accolades from left, right and centre since it opened its doors to Auckland’s discerning diners. Featuring “casual gourmet cuisine”, Kitchen is presided over by award-winning head chef Mark Sycamore. I caught up with Mark during Auckland Restaurant Month and asked him to give me a run down on what makes Kitchen so special.
How long have you been working at Kitchen for? What did you do before that?
I have been at Kitchen for just over two years now. Prior to that, I worked at the exclusive Blanket Bay Lodge in Glenorchy for six years.
How would you describe your food philosophy?
My food philosophy is quite simple . . . buy great produce from people as passionate as me and cook it simply, yet properly, to maximise the flavour. I also like show technique in my cooking as I think it is important to give the customer something that they cannot easily recreate at home.
How would you describe the style of food served at Kitchen?
We put a lot of effort into our food, but try to make sure the restaurant has a professional yet relaxed atmosphere to it. We aim to serve great food, but the without the pretentiousness of a fine-dining restaurant.
What would you like people to take away from their experience dining at Kitchen?
Everybody who comes into the hotel is amazed at what the owners have managed to achieve when they refurbished [this] iconic building in Auckland. We aim to match this with fantastic, friendly and accessible food and service.
Kitchen will be hosting the Wine and Wild Game dinner on August 22 as part of Auckland Restaurant Month. This will feature five courses with matching wines. Tickets are $150.
Here's a recipe for delicious rice paper spring rolls developed by Mark Sycamore
Vietnamese Style prawn spring rolls with Barkers Mango and peach chutney
(makes 4 large rolls)
4 sheets rice paper
30g cucumber ribbons
30g carrot ribbons
30g daikon (white radish) ribbons
20g bean sprouts
1tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1tbsp coriander, chopped
1tbsp basil, chopped
80g cooked and peeled prawns
20mls lemon olive oil
20mls fresh lime juice
5 mls fish sauce
10g light palm sugar (or 1tsp white sugar)
Barkers mango and peach chutney
Cut vegetable ribbons using a vegetable peeler and place in a bowl with the mung beans, herbs and crispy shallots.
In a separate bowl mix together the lemon oil, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust flavour to suit with either more sugar or lime juice.
Roughly chop the prawns and add to the vegetables along with the dressing. Toss well to coat.
Fill a large bowl with warm water and soak the rice paper until just starting to soften. Remove and place flat onto either a clean damp tea towel or damp chux cloth. Wipe away any excess water and divide the filling between the two sheets of paper.
Roll up tightly making sure to tuck in the sides so the filling doesn’t fall out. These should be eaten immediately but will keep for an hour or two if covered with a damp cloth.
Serve with Barkers mango and peach chutney as a dipping sauce and as an optional garnish sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds and coriander.
Click here for all the restaurants taking part in Auckland Restaurant Month.