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Published October 13th 2016
Dining with Ambiance
Located in Parnell is the fusion eatery Woodpecker Hill. Don't let the dim lighting fool you, the cuisine in this establishment is one to be reckoned with. Chef extraordinaire Mark Wallbank and Che Barrington (from MooChowChow, The Blue Breeze Inn and Chop Chop Noodle House) have joined forces again to create a signature East-meets-West fusion restaurant on Parnell Road.
Stir-fried bok choy, ginger, oyster sauce, fried garlic @ Woodpecker Hill (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
For those who like to indulge in a beverage or two, Woodpecker Hill features an impressive drinks list, featuring interesting craft beers, including crowd favourites from Garage Project and Pacific Ale, along with American wines, and also non-alcoholic options for those inclined. An original aspect of the beverage list is Woodpecker Hill's very own bourbon-style whiskey, Waiheke Whiskey, made at their own distillery on the island.
Soft-shell crab, stir-fried with turmeric, chilli, tamarind, crispy shallots @ Woodpecker Hill (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
With barbecuing being the standout cooking style to fuse these cultural flavours, customers can expect a taste explosion on poultry and fish served at the restaurant, as well as beef brisket, pulled pork and goat, to name a few.
The restaurant is also home to a smoker, which allows meats to completely tenderise over hours so they melt in your mouth (and do they ever!). The meats are then combined with spices, pastes and oils to produce some of the most mouth-watering curries you have ever tasted. An interesting one on the menu was the duck. This option is quite different and comes out sliced. If you are into a more hearty curry I would recommend the Aromatic BBQ lamb curry, smoked potatoes, pickled garlic, cashews & charred shallots. this is perfectly cooked lamb that has fallen off the bone and just melts in your mouth and is packed full of flavour.
Beef brisket spiced curry, lemongrass, fried shallots, Vietnamese mint & lime @ Woodpecker Hill (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
Dry red curry of duck, stir-fried with wild ginger, snake beans, chilli & cashews @ Woodpecker Hill (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
I had the pleasure of entering this establishment for a work dinner and literally had no idea what to expect. It's definitely a great setting for groups of four or more. We picked the brain of our waiter and decided to use their expertise and bring out the delicacies of what Woodpecker Hill has to offer for our party of eight.
Kingfish, pomelo, lemongrass, chilli jam & lime @ Woodpecker Hill (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
Pulled pork & water chestnut taro dumplings with smoked chilli @ Woodpecker Hill
Starting off the degustation of the table was the Pulled pork & water chestnut taro dumplings, with pickled swede, smoked chilli along with the Kingfish, pomelo, lemongrass, chilli jam & lime. Both were freshly made and were packed full of flavour. The ceviche style kingfish was perfectly seasoned and a nice chilled piece for the palate.
Green papaya, snake beans, peanuts, cherry tomato @ Woodpecker Hill (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
Next on the menu some lighter sides came out including Green papaya, snake beans, peanuts and cherry tomato. This combination worked in harmony and provided the perfect salty/sweet flavour with the papaya and peanut contrast.
Fermented crispy chicken, wild ginger, basil, garlic chives, crispy shallots, red chilli @ Woodpecker Hill (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
You cannot go to an Asian fusion restaurant and not indulge in some chicken. So lucky for our party of eight, there was a dish of crispy chicken (who doesn't love fried chicken) flavoured with ginger, basil, garlic, chives, shallots and red chilli. this one was definitly a key candidate in the running to win our vote for best dish of the night. However, as you can imagine the BBQ beef brisket curry won hands down. It was slow cooked for many hours and then served with a curry of lemongrass, fried shallots, Vietnamese mint and lime - all the trimmings of a win!
Make sure Woodpecker Hill is on your list of dining experiences in Auckland.