Canadians in NZ in September! Seeking recommendations for good restaurants!
Myself and a friend will be visiting NZ in September and are looking for good resto recommendations, especially in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
We appreciate fine as well as casual dining and are especially interested in the following:
Coffee shops (as in espresso bars)
Fish( with or without chips!)
French or Italian or Spanish
Go ahead, make my trip.....
IMHO - Cibo - its in the Parnell Area - good reliable kitchen, innovative but not silly, upper end of costs ($NZ35-40 plus side dishes for the main course) but worth the $NZ5 extra if you appreciate good food. www.cibo.co.nz
Maori dishes (?) you have to be kidding right? We never ate maoris, they used to eat us 200+ years ago but we have never eaten them. Seriously though the food is really bad, modern day fare is mainly KFC, old style is over cooked fatty old sheep meat cooked (?) in the ground.
You have to try the fresh "Bluff" (an area at the very bottom of the south island) Oysters if they are in season. If not the "Clevdon Coast" oysters from Clevedon are excellent. www.clevedonoysters.com
Logan Brown, consistently well respected by critics, foodies et al.
They concentrate on seasonal and regional specialities, and with a serious nod to wild foods. Sophisticated but relaxed.
There will be plenty of seafood, and I'm told the signature appetiser is paua ravioli (paua is a New Zealand abalone). I don't know what's on their menu right now, but wouldn't be surprised to find crayfish.
Wellington is the place to do cafes. There's so many, just wander down the central streets and find one you like the look of: Cuba Street, Courtenay Place, and Lambton Quay. All our cafes are espresso bars, we take coffee very seriously :) (the others are lunch bars).
Matterhorn on Cuba St is ultra cool for coffee, drinks or a meal, and was last year's top restaurant in NZ (sorry, can't remember with who, think it was our top food magazine).
I've had mostly very good service there, but quite rude service once, but the good visits outweigh that, and it is a nice atmosphere to enjoy. Take a coat, the cafe portion is in a covered courtyard. It's a bit pricey if you want a serious meal though.
Hummingbird on Courtenay Place is another good restaurant experience with atmosphere. But it's tasting plates, so a bit expensive.
Monsoon Poon or Chow are both very good and styley Asian restaurants, both good value, good food and very nice drinks.
By the way - Wellington speciality cocktail: try a Falling Water, which uses our feijoa vodka.
Have seen mixed reviews for Maria Pia's traditional Italian trattoria. Some say it's very good, some say average.
There was at one time a restaurant in Wellington specialising in Maori influenced food, but unfortunately it's long gone. Really wish I'd been able to visit before it closed.
From what I understand the Maori diet was very much a subsisdence diet before the arrival of European introduced foods. Crops brought from the Pacific Islands didn't do well, and the native flora and fauna didn't offer up too many alternatives in that time. Seafood was abundant, and native birds, though the birds are now protected as they were seriously threatened with the arrival of European farming and feral pests.
So traditional Maori food hasn't had a huge impact on modern Kiwi offerings.
Hangi (earth ovens) are a significant tradition.
Boil-ups are the more recent subsisdence food - cheap family comfort food, but you'd be hard pressed to find a place to buy them, and probably would be laughed at.
And I'm told kumara (sweet potato), which is synonymous with Maori food is actually a variety introduced by the Europeans (from South American I guess) as the variety brought by the Maori was very difficult to farm in the colder NZ climates.
Ask around in any town about where the good fish and chips are, there's some beautiful spots by the sea, and some great cheap 'greasies' to be had.
Just moved back after five years in Wellington.
Our current choice is Matterhorn. Frequent changes on the menu, lots of seasonal offerings, excellent preparation and a great wine list. We've always had really good experience with the staff. It can be a mob scene on weekend nights.
Logan Brown is in a great space (former National Bank building) and does lovely food. Very "mod kiwi" with innovative preparations of local ingredients. We always enjoy it, but wish they'd change their menu more frequently.
For very high end, Martin Bosley's is great. Beautiful view out over the harbor, lots of room around the tables, and a knowledgeable staff. The markups on the wine list are crazy, though.
Kiwihound is right that you've gotta do cafes in Wellington. The baristas are uniformly great, and once you've had a latte at Astoria (or L'Affare or Maranui), you'll never be able to drink any other. Our favourites were Astoria (on Lambton Quay in the middle of town), Maranui (just re-opened after a fire last year, with beautiful views out over the south coast), Nikau (great baked goods and an excellent lunch spot, next to the City Museum at Civic Center Square). Nikau and Kalamata (Gipps St in Karori) are great spots for Saturday brunch.
You should also visit Moore Wilson, a great food store in Wellington that Aucklanders covet. Beautiful fresh food, a great selection of cheeses and a truly wonderful attached wine store. The selection of NZ wines is broad and well-chosen, and they typically undersell the wineries themselves (as well as other wine shops).
Finally, pick up a copy of Cuisine magazine. It's a very good food magazine, much better than you'd expect to find in a country of only 4M.
Cheers, and bon apetit.
There USED to be an awesome place in Foxton (may be a little out of your way) that used to do the 'Fish 'n Chip' thing with kumara and pumpkin etc in the shops' 'Hangi pit'.
If you were driving through Foston, you could always stop and ask someone if its still there.
Does anyone know if this place still exists??
Akaroa, there was a great little place called C'est La Vie. Flippin good food and a nice chilled out but good dining restaurant. You may need to call up first or ask around to see if they're open on a certain day.
Have a goody!!
For fine dining in Auckland I can recommend the following.
Meredith's - great tasting menu on friday/saturday, with a smaller version on the other days they are open. Excellent value at $100 for seven courses.
Sidart - if you like progressive cuisine it's one of the few places to go in new zealand
Kermadec - the dessert tasting menu is great value and full of fun tastes and flavours
Lamb is on most menu's here so it's not something you will have to hunt out too hard.
Crayfish - well that depends, will you have a vehicle? If so head to a place called Kaikoura, but a fresh cray from caravans on the side of the road, then eat cray while you check out the seal colonies.
Desert-wise in Chch there's a few places, check out She Chocolat (Banks Peninsula) or uninspired but pretty desserts at Strawberry Fare (centre of town.)
Fish and chips are everywhere, gotta be eaten at the beach with a bottle of L&P (traditional soda in NZ.)
Maori dishes may be a mission, find a Marae that does Hangi's for passing tourists/visitors.
Right. Here are a few of my favourites:
Super casual: You cannot beat the asian foodcourt on albert street in the city. I believe they've received numerous awards for several consecutive years for being tops in the cheap eats category. There's a Malaysian place in there near the drink bar that makes the BEST laksa I've ever had.
Casual: Swashbucklers - great seafood. In the city, near Westhaven Marina
Fine dining: Sails restaurant. Lovely, with a good, european/kiwi style food. Again, near Westhaven Marina, not far from Swashbucklers. Pricey though.
French: Gotta be the French Bistro. Very very nice and outstanding service, but IMHO, a bit overpriced.
For something different, spend a day going around the wineries in West Auckland (Kumeu) , and stop at Soljans restaurant for lunch. You won't regret it.
Kiwi dessert? Well it's going to have to be Pavlova - but you'll find many a fine dessert to suit your desires here in NZ.
Have a great trip and Bon Apetit!