4 May 2023
Today, we hit Underground Bistro - the new St Kevin’s Arcade spot.
Underground Bistro, owned by Adam Purcell and Lindon Wahrlich, is a seafood-centric tapas restaurant located in a charming new space in Auckland’s most loved St Kevin’s Arcade on K Road. A small shop, the outdoor seating is shared with Gemmayze Street (one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants Auckland has to offer!) and Lowbrow.
Premised as a seafood restaurant and a wine bar, I have to say the wine list was great and the glass of red I had to pair with my meal went down a treat.
The menu, though heavily seafood focused (which as a pescatarian woman is usually a big selling point for me), lacked a cohesive theme and failed to deliver on promised flavours.
To start, we ordered the freshly shucked coromandel oysters with the classic vinaigrette to pair. At $6 each, we ordered half a dozen. This was delicious, but for an oyster fan like me, it is hard to go wrong, although the vinaigrette lacked a bit of zest that I typically prefer.
To pair, we ordered the Hand Cut Rustic Fries ($12) which were coated in truffle oil and parmesan cheese. Put anything in truffle and you know that I’ll be licking the plate. These were a great carb pairing, albeit the fries were very soggy (which I let slide as I do love truffle oil).
Next, we ordered the Grilled Scampi ($28). This was in a delicious chilli garlic sauce and came with 6 pieces of scampi. Now while this looked divine and the flavouring was delicious, the shell was on and so hard to get off, I ended up bruising both of my thumbs… and it lost half of the flavour once the shell was removed. This could be attributable to teething issues but I’m pretty sure we went bright red trying to de-shell these.
We ordered the seared tuna to share ($28) which was in a Sicilian sauce. Now, this was a great dish in which we had absolutely no complaints about. We devoured it.
For our main dish, we ordered the pan fried snapper topped on a mushroom medley risotto ($30). Again, this was a divine dish. A market fish dish for me is always a winner, because it’s light and flavourful. This was no exception. The addition of the mushroom risotto for me was filling and tasted good... but I’m a mushroom fiend, so while it tasted good it really wasn’t anything to write home about.
For Price, I give this place a 6.5. Things are relatively ok priced, but to be full, you likely have to order a lot which will stack up.
For Quantity, I give this a 5. My man was still so hungry that he went across the road to Sneaky Snack for some chicken, and then we also hit various dessert spots as we trekked around town. I was also still peckish which is not a good sign.
For Quality Underground Bistro gets a 6. The snapper and seared tuna were great, but what was going on with some of this stuff? As I said earlier, call it teething issues perhaps, as I did go in their first week of opening, but for all the rave reviews I’ve seen today ,this seemed to fall significantly short.
Overall coming to a 5.83/10 on the PQQ: while the location and ambiance are charming, Underground Bistro fails to deliver as a remarkable and memorable dining experience. With the current dishes on offer and at the price point, it’s difficult to recommend this restaurant over other seafood options in Auckland.