Le Garde-Manger

Springtime in Paris – no, autumn in Auckland – yes.  Feeling in the mood for some French food, we went for lunch on a sunny autumn day. Actually, this was my second visit. This place is a cheap eat by day but slightly over the threshold at night. This review is about lunch (all under $20) but if you want to push your main price up a bit we can highly recommend going a night time. The Confit Duck ($26.50) and the Rabbit Casserole ($24.50) are both delicious.

Anyway, back to lunch. This was a birthday celebration so we did indulge ourselves by starting with a dozen escargots to share ($16.50 for 12 or $9.50 for 6).  The plump morsels arrived bubbling in their little nests of garlic and parsley butter.  I had to restrain myself from using the crusty French bread to soak up all the juices but the birthday girl went for it.

We each ordered a savoury galette for our main.  Galettes are pancakes made from buckwheat flour and have the bonus of being gluten-free.  I love the slightly nutty flavour of buckwheat.  Birthday girl had La Limousine ($13.50), a filling of steak mince, onion and a fried egg and I had La Fermiere ($13.50), a filling of mushroom, herbs and cream with chicken.  Unfortunately the cream seemed to be missing so the filling was rather dry. Perhaps it was used to cook the mushrooms, as they were very tasty.

Charging on to dessert, we could not resist the description of the Calva ($12.50) sweet dessert crepe.  I had tried the Crepe Suzette ($11.50) on the previous visit, and it was good, but the Calva crepe was fantastic.  The crepe is filled with caramelised apple slices and vanilla ice cream, brought to the table and then flambéed with Calvados.  Divine!  We washed all of this decadence down with two very good coffees.  Had this been evening I could have been tempted to keep the Calvados theme going.

Owner Florent has created a cosy French ambience in the café that suits the homestyle food.  There is a small seating area outside in the back and a private function room is about to open on the first floor. Go and spend some time in France in the Auckland CBD.  Bon Appetit!

Location: 466 Queen Street, Auckland City
Phone: (09) 362-0655
Hours: 10am-10pm-ish. Seven days
Licensed: Yes
Takeaways: No
Credit Cards: Yes
Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes
Prices: Escargots $9.50 for 6 or $16.50 for 12; soup $9.50; Croque Monsieur $8.50/Croque Madame $9.50; galette crepes $10.50-$15.50; main meals $22.50-$26.50; simple sweet crepes $4.50-$7.50; crepes flambees $11.50-$12.50.  Also 2-course set lunch meals $22.50 and set evening meals $32.50.  Wine by the glass and by the bottle. Apertifs, beer, ciders and digestifs all available.
Bathrooms: Good
Wheelchair accessible: Yes to the restaurant but not to the bathrooms
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