Hey everyone and welcome back, as you can tell from the title I have been travelling so yes, it has been a bit *cough* inactive for a month. But for good reasons, I’ve been out an about in New Zealand and unfortunately internet was a bit of a pain to get to so I saved it all up for here (Ok there’s not that many)! If you happen to be travelling too and happen to be in Auckland, this one’s for you
One thing I realised about Auckland is that it isn’t the biggest city in the world. Nor is it the most active on a Sunday evening. Literally, everything seems to just not function on a Sunday evening. Except this place. Located in a small lane of Vulcan (cool name, right?), it was the most lively and busiest place I saw at the time. With the friendly staff, while they seem to have reached capacity, they still managed to find me a table in less than 10 minutes of waiting! Walking in, I have to say, it felt like one great traditional looking pub I’d like to stay in.
Along with obligatory Christmas decor, there were also some pretty cool wall hangings and a roof clock that looked like it was stolen from a train station in the late 1800s. Plus the place was alive and felt like a really laid back attitude, +1 for environment. I felt the need for some beer so on the tap we got a Leffe and Hoegaarden. This is a pub, after all.
Now of course it wouldn’t be a post if I weren’t talking about food, right? And if it wasn’t for this place I probably would’ve spent the night in the hotel slurping on Shin Ramen. One of the most amazing thing about this place was our amazing luck of being there Monday which was their special…$11.80 1kg Steamed Mussels. That’s right. $11.80, served in your choice of sauce in a cauldron. Other things included very reasonably priced Belgian dishes so naturally we got a 1m Belgian Sausage and a standard sirloin steak.
Maybe you didn’t hear me enough, this was $11.80 mussels. And they were so good. Not the stingy sized ones you think you might get with that price, proper delicious mussels. With your choice of sauce, we went with the Lobster Bisque and Brandy. Mussels were soft but a little bit chewy, as it should be and the sauce was rich, but a bit too salty for my liking. While I wish the sauce had more of a lobster flavour to it, for $11.80, it was the highlight and I can’t complain. Go in on Mondays, get the $11.80 mussels.
Next up was my 1m sausage. Yes, when I first ordered I too thought how on earth were they going to serve this. So there it is. The sausage was nice and jam-packed with flavoured goodness but a bit dry on my end. However with kumara sweet potato mash, sauerkraut (my favourite!) and gravy, it really did work really well together. The mash could’ve been a bit more…mashed and sauerkraut a bit more..sour, but I really enjoyed this dish and if you feel like some bangers and mash, Belgian style, might as well.
Finally there was the steak and chips. The sirloin cut was about 300g and was char-grilled to medium rare and the smoky flavour just coated and lifted that dish up. Along with their peppercorn and creamy mushroom gravy, it was a great way to enjoy a steak. It isn’t a game-changer in steaks, but it is definitely one of the more nicer steaks I’ve had in the past. Great pub food!
In all, for its amazing mussels and just the fact that it’s a buzzing place at an otherwise deserted 9pm city, I really enjoyed The Occidental. The staff were amazingly friendly (a great tip earned), the mussels were the cheapest I’ve ever eaten and the food was reasonably priced for Belgian and quite nice as well. Do come along Sydney-siders if you happen to be in Auckland.