Escape the hustle and bustle of Queen St at new Auckland central eatery NEO

by Alex Blackwood / 18 January, 2019
Photography by Alex Blackwood
neo auckland

Neo, Auckland.

NEO is a new all-day eatery overlooking Queen Street.

With the afternoon sun streaming through the trees onto the balcony, a flow of oblivious pedestrians on the street below and ice clinking in your cocktail, a visit to bar-by-night cafe-by-day NEO feels less like downtown Auckland and more like a cosmopolitan city. Being set inside a neoclassical (hence, NEO) building doesn’t hurt its international vibe either.

The menu too is designed with an all-hours clientele in mind, with simple dishes that work equally as well with a cup of L’affare coffee or a glass of wine. One such dish is the pan-fried snapper on chargrilled ciabatta with the unusual addition of anchovy butter. The dill-seasoned potatoes with poached eggs and burnt sage butter appears on the breakfast menu, yet works in the evening. Unexpected condiments aside, NEO has kept their bacon butty simple and classic.

The backlit neoclassical arches that frame the bar are a focal point, so it’s little wonder emphasis is placed on their cocktail list. Co-owner Mariann Karlsson says the pineapple daiquiri is popular while the “Sentinel” (yes, that is a Matrix reference) with gin, cherry brandy and Cointreau is our pick for a something a bit different. The wine list spans most of the world with wines from Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough, Otago, Australia, Europe and USA.

Read more: Azabu opens a new spot in Wynyard Quarter, plus more January food news

Neo, Auckland.

Neo, Auckland.

Inspiration for the interior is taken from the building itself and its former life as a jazz club, Sardie, way back before it was Queen’s Cafe and Bistro. The half-moon turquoise booths, smoke-coloured mirror and sepia-toned jungle wallpaper are intended to work for day and night; Karlsson picked the spot for its equal “day feel and evening feel”.

Interior designer Jess Blair worked with Jason Williams, Karlsson’s business partner and NEO’s head chef, to enhance the flow from the indoor area, leafy with monsteras, bamboo and philodendrons, to the equally-green balcony. Keep an eye out for the stained glass light fittings – a remnant of the space’s former life.

Its global feel is no accident and Swedish-born Karlsson, the former manager of Dizengoff and now-closed Landreth & Co, reports they’ve had plenty of visitors from Spain, Scandinavia and South America, to name a few.

A lot of thought has been put into making a spot just above busy Queen Street feel like a place to relax – whatever the hour. As if composing our perfect sunny afternoon, they’re even adding oysters to the menu soon.

30-34 Queen St
Auckland CBD

Follow Metro on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and sign up to the weekly email for more food news.

LatestDiningArticlesWidget - Latest Dining Articles with RestaurantHub
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Death of the gods: The woeful response to kauri dieback disease
102578 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Planet

Death of the gods: The woeful response to kauri di…

by Bob Harvey

The closer you get to a kauri, the more you realise you are looking at one of the wonders of the planet.

Read more
Win a double pass to Everybody Knows
102573 2019-02-20 13:19:44Z Win

Win a double pass to Everybody Knows

by The Listener

Starring Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Everybody Knows is a gripping new thriller about the fissures and fault lines that can tear a family apart.

Read more
Fall into a beautiful abyss at this must-see dance show in Auckland
102571 2019-02-20 12:12:54Z Where to go in Auckland

Fall into a beautiful abyss at this must-see dance…

by Metro

A contemporary dance show that marries dystopian anxiety with raw energy is a must-see at the Auckland Arts Festival.

Read more
Climate change declaration 'politically charged' – Thames-Coromandel mayor
102563 2019-02-20 09:39:08Z Planet

Climate change declaration 'politically charged' –…

by Kate Gudsell

A push to get local authorities to sign up to a declaration on climate change is "politically charged and driven", the Thames-Coromandel mayor says.

Read more
What's inside Metro's March/April 2019 issue?
102558 2019-02-20 09:24:47Z Auckland Issues

What's inside Metro's March/April 2019 issue?

by Metro

Top 50 wines, rappers Church & AP, fast-talking poet Selina Tusitala Marsh and what to see at Auckland Arts Festival.

Read more
China could be using Taiwan as a testing ground for disinformation campaigns
102550 2019-02-20 00:00:00Z World

China could be using Taiwan as a testing ground fo…

by Gavin Ellis

A Taiwanese diplomat’s death in Japan has become a symbol of the consequences and dangers of disinformation.

Read more
The best way to beat food cravings? Fill up on the objects of your desire
102087 2019-02-20 00:00:00Z Nutrition

The best way to beat food cravings? Fill up on the…

by Jennifer Bowden

Research has shown that dieters’ attempts to resist eating certain foods appear to lead to cravings for those foods.

Read more
Deepfake: How disinformation fools our brains and damages democracy
102545 2019-02-20 00:00:00Z Tech

Deepfake: How disinformation fools our brains and…

by Gavin Ellis

Message manipulation using bots, algorithms and, now, AI software is making it harder to know what’s real – and threatening democracy itself.

Read more