Snapdragon restaurant – not such a snap for the gluten-intolerant

It’s been a while since a work lunch out in the Viaduct Harbour, but today, a lovely sunny Auckland spring day, was one such occasion. Several people had been keen to try Snapdragon, which is in the space formerly occupied by the Loaded Hog. At night, the restaurant converts to a nightclub. Walking in, the first thing to strike us was the plant wall! Literally floor to ceiling plants growing up the wall. It was awesomely cool. There was a distinct lack of wait staff however, and also a lack of customers – besides us, there were 2  tables occupied.

We sat outside on the covered verandah where the beating sun was almost TOO hot. The tables were made of steel, as I discovered when my clip on magnetic sunglasses stuck to them! They look great, and the seating was comfortable.

The menu at first glance is extensive and looks to have some interesting flavours and combinations. However, on closer perusal, there is no labelling at all. Impossible to tell if something contains gluten, dairy or any other substance and the descriptions, whilst attractive, are not very informative. Our waitress didn’t have great English and didn’t cope well with the gluten-free question. In the end, I settled on:

Salmon Salad $25
Lavender tea smoked salmon w wild rice, coriander, lime, red chilli, mango,
beetroot labne, micro coriander, blood orange and palm sugar dressing

Sounds great doesn’t it? And as I’m trying to eat lots of vegetables, a salad sounded like an excellent option. The flavours were lovely and the salmon especially was outstanding. The wild rice was great and the bits of lime, chilli, mango and so on added dimension to the dish. The beetroot taste added to the salmon flavours and the deep pink of it added to the colours and look of the plate.

Salad was seriously lacking however. The micro coriander was the only greenery and that was spread across the top of the salmon. So billing it as a salad wasn’t entirely accurate.

We had to wait for about 35 minutes before our food arrived, which given that we were there at lunchtime seemed a long wait. They brought potatoes out instead of chips, and there was a bit of a wait before we all had our meals. I do need to say that the second waitress we had was excellent and very efficient.

So overall, what did I think? I felt that in terms of value for money, it was definitely on the pricey side (even allowing for Viaduct prices at Rugby World Cup time). The servings were a decent size and they did some very interesting things like serving a duck terrine with a bell jar and vanilla smoke covering it.  The service was erratic. The atmosphere was amazing and a lot of thought had been put into the decor.  It’s still fairly new, so I’ll give it a few months and then perhaps try again!


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