• Head Chef, Simon Kirikau

SmokePit and Buoy - As good as it gets

If you’re after the best American BBQ in Auckland, great service and an extensive wine and beverage list, head straight to The Spencer Hotel, you will not be disappointed!

SmokePit and Buoy (located inside The Spencer Hotel on Byron Avenue) is an American style BBQ restaurant with a Kiwi twist according to Manager, Yelena Zhukovskaya. The team is passionate about quality and ingredients, their meats are smoked in house, including their famous Wagyu Brisket and Salmon Gravlax, which along with all their seafood, is sourced from Leigh Fisheries, sustainably caught and the best quality.
Our entire dining experience was faultless and it left us immediately planning our next visit. We dined on a Monday night, we were a party of two adults and a baby and we arrived early thinking Monday and the time we visited meant it would be relatively quiet, something that proved to be wrong and a testament to the quality of this restaurant. There was a huge corporate group and many groups of travellers and locals, it was positively buzzing on a Monday night! The restaurant was warm and inviting, with the great service of a hotel and exceptional food - worth travelling across town for or enjoyed by lucky locals! It's also very child friendly, we used one of their highchairs.
To start, we shared the salmon gravlax on the recommendation of Yelena, the fish was cured to perfection and it had a great balance of flavours offset by the savoury waffle to accompany it.
We had a chat to Head Chef, Simon Kirikau, he recommended the Grill Platter for two, we shared that as our main dish and honestly it could easily feed 3-4 people. It came with a selection of what the entire menu offers including pork ribs (smoky goodness and melt in your mouth), fried chicken (crispy, not too greasy and finished with a delicious seasoning), small sausages (flavoursome and moreish), pork belly (crispy skin and hoisin flavours) and the star of the show, the wagyu brisket (fall apart, moist and melt in the mouth!). The platter was accompanied by a salad that was the perfect palate cleanser after the intense meaty goodness and the obligatory fries. We desperately wanted to finish the platter but our 10 month old only managed a few chips which meant a doggy bag for lunch the next day for one of us!
For dessert we chose the ice cream sundae from a section of old favourites like cream brûlée, chocolate fondant and more! The sundae was like an old school classic and had gourmet strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice cream with cream, berries and gold leaf chocolate, it was the perfect end to a delectable meal.
The wine and beverage offerings were equally as impressive as the food, Yelena wrote the wine list and selected all the beverages herself and only offers ones she personally recommends. We enjoyed a French sparkling to start (that’s paired with orange juice to make their famous mimosas on Saturday and Sunday breakfast) and then a delicious pinot noir with our main meal, Yelena talked at length about the family owned vineyard and was clearly extremely passionate and knowledgeable about the entire wine and drinks list.
For breakfast lovers, SmokePit and Buoy is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday from 7am-11am serving a hot buffet and complementary mimosas featuring the same French sparkling wine we sampled at dinner.
For dinner, the restaurant is also BYO and instead of corkage they suggest a $5 donation to Harbour Hospice. They have been supporting the charity for almost two decades and are currently assisting Hospice via their donations to renovate their premise near North Shore Hospital.
On Thursday and Friday cocktails are $8 from 4pm-7pm and the restaurant is right next to the great hotel bar where patrons can watch major sports games and events, it's a great atmosphere.
We left dinner with huge smiles on our faces, it was the best BBQ we’ve had in New Zealand and Takapuna’s best kept secret, we’ll be back next week!

SmokePit and Buoy, Spencer Hotel, 9-17 Byron Avenue, Takapuna, Auckland 0622. Ring 09 916 4982 or email smokepit@spencerbyron.co.nz to make a booking.