Mondial, Grey Lynn

This place is a gem of a find. From its welcoming and almost-too-friendly staff, to the huge array of fantastic sounding tapas (because this was an after-dinner visit I did not partake… gutted), Mondial scores a resounding 10/10 in the “overall vibe” category.

 As you stroll in off Great North Road into this seemingly-small restaurant/bar you slowly seem to slip away from the fringe of central Auckland City into a buzzing, yet relaxing, ‘nook’ of another country. Be it Spain, France or… somewhere else I’m unsure (The main beer is Moritz – a Spanish offering and, due to the accompanying tapas, I’ll go for Spain) but this place is just plain awesome.

Set in a long, rather narrow building space, Mondial caters for all types of patrons wanting almost any type of casual dining/drinking experience. Ample seating front-of-house and alongside the bar is provided for lazy (and not so lazy) drinkers and casual diners alike, a more intimate environment is provided by barrels spaced along a fairy light-lit “avenue” that sidles the kitchen while a chilled-out courtyard completes the flow at the rear, providing an outdoor area to wine and dine until the wee small hours. If you’re left wandering where the menus are, check out any space that should traditionally be a designated wall. Menu items are scribbled, painted and chalked all over the place. The dish of the day is lazily scrawled across a massive mirror, the walls adjacent to the bar are crammed with tapas and even the underside of the stairwell showcases the fact they have quite an assortment of  dishes such as Scallops with Chorizo, Lemon Pepper Calamari, Moroccan Lamb Skewers… the list goes on.

One curious item on the menu which prompted this blogger to show off and google on his newly-acquired iPhone (and also run out of pre-paid data) is Escalivada which, thanks to the aforementioned search engine, proved to be a traditional Catalonian entrée consisting of eggplants, onions and capsicums roasted over embers. Apparently Escalivada is pretty darn awesome and I’m pretty determined to put this to the test next time I come back. Accompanying Escalivada are other European must-haves such as the obligatory pitcher of sangria at the bar, platters of olives and a wine list that is varied, indulgent, yet concise (I’d advise checking out the Chocolate Box Shiraz from the Barossa Valley). My only qualm would be the large price tags associated with foreign beers that cost a very small fraction of the menu price in their country of origin. But, short of importing them myself, negotiating customs and under-cutting Mondial in my own little “set-up”, it barely registered as an issue.

The staff are engaging, friendly and (best of all) obviously European as their accents match the décor. This provided further authenticity and led me to believe that maybe I was indeed in Spain… or similar (due to the fact that I couldn’t quite identify the accent). They’re also nice enough to suggest the aforementioned Australian Shiraz over an inferior (yet pricier) French Syrah and, as we found out, are quick-witted enough to retort to crappy jokes without coming across snarky. One of the guys was also a fan of the t-shirt I was wearing and asked for the website details so, in all honesty, I was pretty chuffed.

Check this place out. Do it. Do it. Do it.

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