I would love to share with you one of my favourite hidden gems in Auckland – introducing Gemmayze Street in St Kevin’s Arcade. Here are five reasons why I love Gemmayze Street and why you should visit pronto.
1. The owners. Chef Samir Allen runs the kitchen and produces the most beautiful, divine, mouthwatering and moreish Lebanese food (more on that below), while his mother, Liane Farry, is front of house. I read in one review that said she was ‘scary’ – she is definitely quite the opposite. Always friendly, always welcoming, and once on a very busy night, Liane took over our table of five and we received great service!
2. The beautiful Lebanese food. I have dined at Gemmayze Street four times now, and the food has been excellent every visit. I generally order my favourite vegetarian dishes (a selection of mezze), and also a larger dish if I am feeling super hungry. These dishes come highly recommended:
Hummus – this is my family’s favourite dish, for it’s beautiful flavour and texture, creaminess and lovely presentation. Dip your complimentary flatbread in it and I guarantee you will swoon.
Falafel – served with parsley cream and pickled turnip, this dish is my second favourite, for its generous serving and overall deliciousness. I could literally eat Gemmayze Street’s falafel everyday if I could and/or turn vegetarian if I had a limited supply of their falafels.
Tabbouleh – I have fond memories of my Mum making this dish when my sisters and I were young, and she continues to make it to this day. It is a fresh, healthy and delicious salad made up of Bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, tomatoes and lemon. It is super easy to make too. I love ordering this dish at Gemmayze Street, not only because of it reminds me of Mum, but also because it is the perfect fresh accompaniment to all the other dishes.
Frekkeh Risotto – In January of this year, Gemmayze Street updated their menu and this beautiful risotto was added as one of their larger dishes. It is served with broccoli, garlic, olives and a bright egg on top. It was a delight to eat and is a delicious vegetarian option.
3. The presentation. Each dish is perfectly plated, with a mix of different colours and textures. The food is made for sharing, so each diner also gets their own special colourful plate – every time I visit I am excited about which coloured plate I will end up with. Also, I love the unique wine and beer glasses!
4. The service etc. Consistently good service, with water glasses always topped up, and attentive wait staff who are always on hand to explain the dishes and make suggestions for both food and drink. In regards to booking, I would recommend booking online via their website in advance. Gemmayze Street are only open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner, so it does get busy and it is a popular place for work and celebratory functions. Even though when I have dined there (around 6pm) it has been quiet, after 30 minutes, the whole restaurant has filled up quickly.
5. The decor and location. Tucked away at the back of St Kevin’s Arcade, Gemmayze Street takes up the space where Bestie is a cafe during the day. The restaurant is set up like a real Lebanese restaurant/cafe – there are rugs, colourful table settings, mix and match furniture, greenery, photos of Lebanese families by the bar area, and traditional artefacts, plus the tables occupy one whole end of the Arcade, making it a great place for dining al fresco. If possible, request a table near the large windows – you will get a full view of the Sky Tower. At night, the view is magical… just like Gemmayze Street is too.