I have adopted a new approach to eating this year, it's influenced by a number of things, but follows some pretty basic prerequisites.
One of the most significant is not to rush to new places, as soon as they open, as it normally ends in disappointment. There are some very good restaurants that get off to a relatively shaky start, heaped praise upon them by gushing reviews, that end up just being a headache for staff and kitchen alike.
Maybe I am finally developing the patience gene as I accelerate into middle age. So in true middle age fashion, I went out (on a Friday evening - no kids) with my Art Friend for a nice dinner.
We decided to try Saan; open a couple of months and from all accounts "very good ".
Being a stubborn carnivore (omnivore at best) dining with a herbivore is challenging when shared plates are involved but for once we weren't disappointed, even assured by the knowledgable (and experienced) waitress and maitre d that we could get things delivered when we wanted them; this is almost a new phenomenon in Auckland.
Saan is a well thought out room with a great menu, lots to choose from and difficult to make the final choice, varying degrees of heat and two sorts of rice. A good wine list by the bottle and the glass and its corner site in Ponsonby lets you experience all that brings.
It is loud, or was last night, so don't expect to have a deep and meaningful conversation.
Dining in Auckland continues to develop and mature, it is almost expected now that the food will meet a certain standard.
What makes "very good" restaurants become great is all the ingredients you don't find in the kitchen: considerate and professional staff, good organisation, nice hand towels, clean menus, tables that don't wobble, manners and passion. That means that someone cares and has taken the time to check the little things.
Saan has that.