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Milse: Auckland’s sweet new restaurant

Thursday 28 Feb 2013 2:54 p.m.

Auckland’s food scene is about to get a whole lot sweeter with the opening of the city’s first dessert-only fine dining restaurant.

Whether you’re after a five-course dessert degustation or a gelato-on-a-stick to go, Milse (pronounced ‘mill-say’- Gaelic for ‘sweet things’) will cater to your every taste – as long as it’s sweet.

“We love being the first into the market with new and exciting ventures and there’s a worldwide trend for having the ultimate dessert experience,” says co-owner Scott Brown.

Tucked down a small alleyway in Britomart’s upmarket new development The Pavilions, the lattice-walled dining area can seat only 20 people at a time.

“It’s going to be very intimate,” says Mr Brown. “You’ll be able to see the chefs actually plating your dessert in front of you. They’ll also be delivering the desserts to you and explaining each element of the desserts.”

Though the place is tiny, its concept is bold – much more than just chocolate has been poured into this new venture.

Right next to the bar sits a state-of-the-art chocolate tempering machine imported from Italy, which pipes out a continuous stream of beautifully glossy Valrhona chocolate all day, every day.

The purpose-built kitchen is lined with blast chillers and stacked with seasonal ingredients, many of which are locally sourced.

At its helm is pâtissier Brian Campbell, whose 12 years in the business have included stints at Michelin-starred restaurants in the United Kingdom.

On the day we visit, he is using liquid nitrogen to freeze raspberry sorbet inside a water balloon, filling it with pistachio mousse and serving it with cubes of orange cake and fresh basil.

He flies around the kitchen with a deftness and energy that belie the 4am starts and long days he has been working since late last year to get this venture up and running.

Staffing an entire kitchen with pastry chefs for what Mr Campbell calls “a pretty crazy project” has been something of a challenge for him.

“Pastry chefs in New Zealand have been quite rare,” he says. “It’s been one of my gripes the whole time I’ve been here.”

But having now worked together for several months, Mr Campbell’s team of eight is more than ready for next week’s opening.

Milse’s flagship offering will be a five-course dessert degustation – something Mr Campbell expects people will find daunting at first. However, he says that like any other degustation, the menu has been carefully balanced to start small and build in intensity.

“You’re not going to leave thinking, ‘Oh my god, I’ve just eaten 5,000 calories, what am I going to do for the next two weeks?’”

But if that still doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there will also be an a la carte menu, as well as cabinets lined with handmade chocolates, macarons and gelato cakes to be taken away.

These products are also being supplied to the plethora of established Auckland eateries already under Scott Brown and Jackie Grant’s Hip Group umbrella, which include the Takapuna Beach Cafe, Rosehip Cafe in Parnell and Cafe on Kohi.

In addition to this, the Hip Group has just opened two other ventures in Britomart – cafe The Store (which boasts a 24-hour bakery) and bistro Ortolana – both just a cherry stone’s throw away from Milse.

All of this means the Milse kitchen is close to becoming a round-the-clock operation.

But if it sounds like the staff have a lot on their plate, you can at least be sure it all tastes exquisite.

Milse is scheduled to open on Monday March 4.

3 News

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