This post is a paid collaboration with SKYCITY Entertainment Group.
The Sugar Club sits 53 floors above Auckland City at the top of the Sky Tower and is part of SKYCITY Auckland. With panoramic views of Auckland harbour it’s a dining experience you MUST add to your list.
The food is unique with The Sugar Club’s menu focusing on seasonality, combining the best in local sustainably sourced produce with the boldest flavours from around the world. They class it as ‘Fusion Cuisine’.
Both the atmosphere of SKYCITY, the beauty that comes with dining at the top of the Sky Tower, 192 metres above the ground and being able to see the panoramic views of both Auckland Harbour and city makes The Sugar Club one of my favourite restaurants and is my go-to for my birthday dinner.
When SKYCITY invited me to try their new Autumn menu for lunch, I was so excited! They have three versions of their menu, a three course a la carte, a two course Federal Street lunch club menu and a seven course chef’s tasting menu. From Wednesday to Sunday, a la carte menu, the Federal Street lunch club and the tasting menu are available for lunch. For dinner, the a la carte and tasting menus are available Sunday to Thursday, with the tasting menu served on Friday and Saturday evenings.
I took one of my best friends Loic along with me who shares the same passion for food and creativity that I do. We first met four years ago at a dinner where we were being hosted at and now have weekly catch ups trying new restaurants and cafes around Auckland. He had yet to dine here so I thought it would be the perfect chance to showcase The Sugar Club’s food to him.
We started off in the bar enjoying their creative cocktails. Their Native cocktail menu is truly unique! It has been crafted by The Sugar Club team with each team member inspiring each creation. I went with the Heart of Oak cocktail, a spiked scotch with a spritz style designed by Duty Manager Danielle Wood.
We were seated at our table and had both the a la carte and tasting menu to choose from. We decided to go with the tasting menu. Loic selected the standard version (see it here) and I went for the vegetarian version (see it here).
The tasting menus are designed to be eaten over a two and a half hour period with seven small plates, snacks, a palate cleanser and treats to finish. This was perfect given my situation as since having gastric sleeve surgery a year ago I’m limited to how much I can eat in one sitting. Having these smaller plates being served over a longer period of time means I get to enjoy the food experience too.
We started with a selection of snacks. We were first served toasted bread with a unique butter that had my heart. It was a whipped Marmite butter with micro grated parmesan. Growing up in New Zealand, this is a classic breakfast or sandwich filling and The Sugar Club took this to the next level. This was my absolute favourite and such a great way to start!
We were also served four bite sized pieces across three dishes.
The first dish had two separate crackers – both options had The Sugar Club’s version of another Kiwi classic – potato chip with Kiwi onion dip and chives. This was so delicious and had the perfect flavours to remind me of what I know it as. The other was Pearl Barley wafer with fennel jam and beetroot caviar for the vegetarian version and with oyster cream and vintage caviar for the standard version.
The second dish was a chickpea wafer with the vegetarian version being smoked beetroot and the standard version being wild lamb tartare, both featuring miso mayo on top. This was served on a rustic piece of wood.
The final dish was either a vegetarian polenta or a pulled ox tongue ball crumbed in parsley crumb both had watercress emulsion. These were also served on the most beautiful wooden platter made of pine tree and also had a piece of the branch too. Something really unique about The Sugar Club is that Josh actually goes out and forage these items themselves when designing the menus aesthetic. How cool is that?!
The first course to come out was similar for the both of us and I found that for most of the dishes we were served, despite getting different versions, vegetarian and standard, our base elements were the same. For this, we both had tempura shiso with buttermilk and fermented gooseberry paired with either mushroom tartare or line caught tuna tartare from bluff.
My vegetarian version was a mushroom tartare and Loic had latitude 45 line caught fish. For me, this dish was really fresh and awakened my palate. The buttermilk was very cold – almost ice-cream like and if you know me I LOVE mushrooms and these were marinated gorgeously. It was a pairing I never would’ve known so it was nice to try them together.
The second course contrasted for the both of us with both dishes being quite different.
My vegetarian version was a charcoal carrot with macadamia puree, dates and argan oil. I love seeing vegetables done simply and beautifully and this was no exception. I didn’t think carrots could be so delicious but it was sweet, soft and so tasty!
Loic was treated to a scampi dumpling – crispy on the outside with chunky scampi nestled inside. It was paired with a yuzu sauce and had wild scampi caviar that was blue! The waiter suggested he taste the caviar by itself to taste alone first before trying it all together.
The third course was an interesting one for the both of us.
Loic’s version came out in a bowl filled with crispy pork, mushroom, noodles and squid as well as a small jug of broth. This was a take on The Sugar Club’s own version of Ramen – one of Loic’s favourite foods!
My vegetarian version was a roasted cauliflower with black doris plum, green tea and toasted rice. I had never seen a roasted cauliflower done like this before and it was so good! I feel like cauliflower is quite simple so paired with the black doris plum, it was magical.
By the fourth course, we were just over half way through our tasting. This course was slightly bigger than the previous courses and again had similar bases for both of us.
For my vegetarian version, I had a charred broccoli heart with brussel sprouts, pickled sea salt chicory and dill oil. Broccoli is a favourite of mine however the stem of it is usually something I’d cut off and throw away. After having it like this, I definitely need to keep it!
Loic’s version was Hauraki Gulf Fish with a seaweed emulsion along with brussel sprouts, pickled sea salt chicory and dill oil too. His fish looked so good that I snagged a taste and it was melt in my mouth yum! I think New Zealand does fish really well so I love seeing it showcased on the menu.
The fifth course was the highlight of the lot. I feel like this was the bigger of the seven and everything from the flavours, to the textures, to the presentation was stunning!
Loic’s meat version was a wild shot venison paired with tamarind puree, ong choy and raw oyster mushroom whereas my vegetarian version had roasted cabbage and a beetroot sauce. Definitely widely loved and this dish was Loic’s favourite!
SIXTH & SEVENTH COURSE
The sixth and seventh course were an absolute delight! Normally, I’m not much of a dessert person. I’d usually go with the cheese option or skip straight to a coffee or tea but as soon as I tasted these, I fell in love!
The sixth course was the first of the two sweeter dishes and was a sheep panna cotta with fig leaf ice cream, glazed figs and honey cake. The honey cake was absolutely divine and spongy and perfect with the creaminess of the ice cream.
The seventh course won me over and was the best dessert I’ve had in my life to date. There was a thick Hogarth 70% chocolate mousse that had me saying OMG in enjoyment after every bite (Loic had a video of proof haha). It was paired with a kampot pepper ice cream that had damson plum and semi-dried quince within in. It made for a textural surprise that was so delicious I can’t even put it into words.
To finish, we were given two bite sized treats. The first was a Blackcurrant jelly and also a Kawakawa chocolate both presented gorgeously in a bowl of cacao nibs. They were the perfect finish to our long lunch.
Our total sitting time ended up being around three and a half hours as we grazed on our food, chatted a lot and enjoyed the views. We managed to see the sunset while we were up there too – so beautiful!
I love The Sugar Club’s new Autumn menu and would definitely recommend it for any special occasion you’re celebrating or even just for cocktails up in the sky.
I’ll be back sometime in the next few months as I know I need to take my boyfriend Chris up here to taste the menu too!