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MattEvans_Lazeeza_300dpi_12x12-0001When Laz­eeza took over Simply Paris’s Dix­on Street loc­a­tion, I some­what cyn­ic­ally didn’t expect it to last long. Not only was it one of those spots that appeared cursed by the hos­pit­al­ity gods, but as a res­taur­ant Laz­eeza seemed unfocused, without a clear point of dif­fer­ence. Nev­er­the­less, it sur­vived 2013, and it seemed time to give it a go.

We sat out­side on a warm even­ing, in the pecu­li­ar smokers’ under­croft that seems more fest­ive with a gelato cart parked at the street edge. The list of “Medi­ter­ranean cock­tails” looked tacky, but we couldn’t res­ist, and I tried some­thing with the embar­rass­ing name Greeka-Rita, while my more cir­cum­spect friend ordered a Neg­roni. The lat­ter was a decent rendi­tion, while mine was simply a Mar­gar­ita with a touch of orange juice: pleas­ant enough, but not appre­ciably Greek.

Once the third mem­ber of our group arrived, we shared a selec­tion of entrées and sides. The sagana­ki was superb: long fin­gers of kefa­lo­gravi­era grilled crisp and golden on the out­side while softly mol­ten inside. Scal­lops are not nor­mally my thing, but I made an excep­tion for these plump, sweet morsels in creamy sauce. Everything was slathered in squiggles of bal­sam­ic reduc­tion, but this rather dated attempt at ‘classy’ present­a­tion didn’t detract from the inher­ent qual­ity of the food. More tra­di­tion­al dishes, such as kib­beh and a plat­ter of flat­breads with hum­mus, baba ghan­oush and tzatziki, were spared this indignity.

This also applied to the mains. Shish tawook con­sisted of simple chick­en skew­ers accom­pan­ied by tab­bouleh and hum­mus, and it benefited from unadorned yet thought­ful present­a­tion. My sal­mon was some­where in the middle, sit­ting on a plain mound of creamy orzo along­side care­fully arranged broc­colini and slow-cooked toma­toes, yet it had been bal­sam­ised in an attempt to enliven the slightly bland fish. My friend’s lamb bur­ger was described as “drizzled with feta dress­ing”, but this was met­eor­o­lo­gic­ally inac­cur­ate, as it had been bur­ied in a bliz­zard of goopy zigzags.

The ser­vice was cheer­ful and mostly effi­cient, though some would con­sider our cheeky waiter’s decision to take our order, then come out­side on his break and sit at the next table for a swift fag, to be rather too cas­u­al. At least the out­side area was lively com­pared to the interi­or, where unsmil­ing diners sat in ser­ried rows beneath tour­ist posters.

We fin­ished with sweet pista­chio bak­lava, lem­on tart and a trio of scoops from the gelato cart, but as deli­cious as they were, next time we might raid the treas­ures of the dessert cab­in­et. While some oth­er Medi­ter­ranean res­taur­ants may be cheap­er, more authen­t­ic or more innov­at­ive, Laz­eeza makes good food, and would be bet­ter if it tried just a little less hard to be fashionable.



Address: 41 Dix­on Street, Te Aro

Phone: 04 894 6982


Cost: entrées $9–15; mains $18–28

Open: Mon–Fri 7.30am–late, Sat–Sun 8am–late

Food: Medi­ter­ranean

Drink: Tuatara Hefe $8; Chakana Syrah $7.50/glass, $40/bottle




March café recommendation

With its sleek design, cutesy sand­wich names and care­fully craf­ted brand­ing, Toast It could be insuf­fer­ably twee if its staff didn’t make good sand­wiches. For­tu­nately, they make very, very good sand­wiches. Allit­er­at­ively assor­ted into “Farm”, “Fish”, “Fowl”, “Field” and “Favour­ites”, with extra sec­tions for break­fast and dessert sand­wiches, the menu offers a huge range of toasted sand­wiches with high-qual­ity ingredi­ents. My favour­ite so far, des­pite the cringe­worthy name, is Trot-a-lot: bacon, car­a­mel­ised onion, Camem­bert and honey mus­tard. Des­pite the unap­peal­ing out­look over State High­way 1 and the back of Briscoes, it provides a pleas­ant altern­at­ive to the exist­ing sand­wich chains.

Address: 103 Vivi­an Street, Te Aro

Phone: 04 801 7297


Open: Mon–Sun 8am–4pm


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