Southern American barbecue style cooking is very on-trend right now and SmokePit & Buoy has been bringing these flavours to the North Shore since 2018. The Channel sales team decided to check out how its menu has evolved and to learn what else is happening here at The Spencer on Byron Hotel’s restaurant.
On a hot day our waiter Nabin welcomed us into the perfectly air-conditioned dining room on the second floor above the lobby. We took a table with very comfortable banquette seating along the wall at a beautifully polished table. Here was the start of an experience where some elegance and attention to detail is noticed.
Our desire was to have a delicious lunch that blended the ‘SmokePit’ and the ‘Buoy’ offerings from the menu. It wasn’t an easy choice however, as each dish sounded wonderful and intriguing. Specialising in low and slow cookery, using two American-style offset smokers and the latest in convection ovens, the result is a refined style of pit cookery.
Think meaty St Louis style pork ribs, glazed and sticky; 48-hour slow cooked Wagyu brisket that has been spice rubbed and smoked; smokepit crispy chicken breast in a buttermilk coating then fried; pork belly burnt ends with peanut brittle coleslaw and a tamarillo barbecue sauce; sides of fries and salad or coleslaw. For those wishing to partake in lighter fare there are plenty of creative salads, pasta and seafood choices including options for vegetarians and vegans.
The beef is all Wagyu beef sourced from the Hawkes Bay and the only grass-fed, gm-free Wagyu in the world – great for those eating a paleo diet. Manager Yelena Zhukovskaya told us about the Wagyu marble grading system, and that the 7-9 mbs grade of the signature dry-aged rump cap puts it at the very top end of quality.
We had to try one of the steaks of course so chose the 180gm Wagyu eye fillet that had been aged on site for 60 days.
This eye fillet was just perfect: chargrilled to the right level of caramelisation and the meat texture almost like marshmallow. The quality serrated steak knives effortlessly slide through when cutting and the meat melts in your mouth. The crispy roast potatoes, garden salad, oven roasted tomato and bearnaise sauce compliment it classically.
Our line-caught market fish was very fresh terakihi on a herbed potato rösti with rocket and a lovely, summery feta, olive and watermelon salad. And the prawn linguine included a generous serving of tiger prawns with marinated eggplant, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs. Needless to say, after sharing these dishes between the three of us, each plate was cleaned up.
Each meal was beautifully presented, and the linen napkins and quality cutlery and glassware were suitably appreciated. Even the wine was presented in a classic napkin collar around the bottle. With the room temperature just right and the service attentive but not intrusive, we were most comfortable indeed. And if we were in a larger group of 10-12, the private dining room would be ideal (great for a birthday or special celebration meal).
Another feature of SmokePit & Buoy is the various sitting areas that speak of comfortable leather lounge seating like you’d find in an old American mansion or townhouse. The extensive 52 count cocktail list and bourbons, amongst other quality spirits, make this the perfect spot for pre-dinner or pre-show drinks with friends, particularly on Thursday afternoons between 4pm and 7pm when SmokePit & Buoy's mixologist prepares cocktails for just $8 each.
We three all agreed that we would be back soon to try some cocktails, plus find out what the pork belly burnt ends really did taste like. And perhaps squeeze in their popular crème brulee or winter’s molten chocolate fondant for dessert.
SmokePit & Buoy, 09 916 4982
The Spencer on Bryron Hotel, Byron Avenue, Takapuna
Open for breakfast 6.30-10am; lunch 12-2pm; dinner 5.30-10pm.