As American Express Restaurant Month enters its final week, some of the best events have been saved for last.
Bollywood Night at iVillage is one of those events.
A last minute spot of the caveat 'Indian attire required' sent me with a frantic email around the newsroom on the hunt for a sari, and my boyfriend to a South Auckland store specialising in Indian wedding clothing. Eventually appropriately garbed, we made our way to Victoria Street.
iVillage is known for serving Indian with a twist. As well as reimagined versions of western classics, the restaurant serves the best of North Indian and Indochinese cuisine; anything from the tandoori oven is a given. Dimple, her son Smeet, and the team will bring you into their family like you're old friends. You feel like you've just popped over to their house for dinner.
My boyfriend and I consider ourselves quite the Indian food connoisseurs in that we occasionally branch out from butter chicken at some of the best spots Sandringham has to offer. But we were not prepared for the flow of dishes that were about to arrive to our table.
The menu was based around the classics: from poppadums and chutneys to tandoori meat and a selection of curries. The theme even extended to the cocktails. My partner, a sugar fiend and dessert fan, downed a Thandaai Ghol in record time - basically coconut ice cream with a hefty hit of rum and Frangelico.
Longer to drink and a lot more savoury was my Masala Sour - a house speciality created using homemade masala spices, vodka, grapefruit juice and lemon. It was one of the strangest things I've ever drunk, but also one of the most delicious.
As a vegetarian Dhal, lamb saagwala, a goat curry and a butter chicken which blew Sandringham out of the water struggled for room on the table, Dimple took charge. "Get this over here," she ordered, moving a candle out of the way. "We need food, not light."
My kind of woman.
Between each course there was entertainment, including three men performing a Bangra dance which got the whole place clapping along. Eventually, they pulled diners up to try their own footwork - I was nominated from our table of two, after taking off my heels.
Even the wait staff were dancing along, as they wove in and out of tables with trays of teetering glasses. Again, it was as if we were all at a fun - if very eclectic - dinner party run by friends.
To finish the eve we got a frozen mango lassi on a plate - a mango and pistachio Kulfi that was the perfect hit of freshness for a couple for very full, very sleepy diners.
Even though Bollywood Night is over, we'll be back soon to iVillage. While the event was a one-off, it seems the family vibe is something that the whole place hinges on.
Tickets to the final week of American Express Restaurant Month Events can be purchased via the official website.