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Concierge.com

New Zealand Restaurants

Amisfield Winery Bistro
10 Lake Hayes Road
Queenstown , South Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 3 442 0556
www.amisfield.co.nz

The closest winery to Queenstown (it's about a 15-minute drive north), Amisfield is known for its pinot, riesling, and sauvignon blanc varietals. Tour the property—which overlooks beautiful Lake Hayes and Coronet Peak—then spend an hour in the tasting room before repairing to the adjacent bistro for an early dinner. The menu served in the rustic stone dining room focuses on simple, delicious tapas-style dishes: fried whitebait with sourdough bread and organic butter; rabbit-and-prune rillette; artichoke-and–broad bean risotto; and duck breast with grilled pears. In summer, grab a table in the Tuscan-style courtyard, order a couple of bottles, and share it all with friends.

Closed Mondays. Open for lunch and early dinner (last seating at 7 p.m.).

The Bunker
Cow Lane
Queenstown , South Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 3 441 8030
www.thebunker.co.nz

The best place to eat in Queenstown is also one of the hardest to find: This tiny, six-table establishment is hidden, speakeasy-style, down a side lane off Camp Street, and has no signage. But ask your concierge for directions (and book a table in advance—it's necessary), and you'll find this place well worth the trouble. The cozy dining room, with its wood-paneled walls and low lighting, feels like a private club. After starting with an amuse-bouche of venison consommé with foie gras tortellini, move on to appetizers like roasted loin of hare with apple risotto and quince compote—and then entrées like rack of NZ lamb, caramelized duck breast, or macadamia gnocchi with wild mushrooms. Save room for a dessert cocktail—like a "Toblerone" made with Baileys and Frangelico—and then hit the firelit upstairs bar for after-dinner drinks (it's open till 5 a.m.).

Dinner only.

Cibo
91 St. Georges Bay Road
Parnell
Auckland , North Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 9 303 9660
www.cibo.co.nz

Though it sits in the touristy neighborhood of Parnell, Cibo is almost exclusively frequented by the local smart set. The restaurant occupies a former chocolate factory, and its soaring ceiling is studded with skylights; there's also a tranquil courtyard (though three-martini lunchers can disrupt the peace). Chef Kate Fay's adventurous, East-meets-West menu includes dishes like salt-crusted fried shrimp with shiitake mushrooms, and Szechuan-style venison in a curry-tamarind broth with saffron-spiced noodles. The cheaper but delicious harpuku (grouper) fish and chips, served with a tangy tartar sauce, is the perfect foil for a beer—and popular, given this place's healthy bar scene.

Closed Sundays. No lunch on Saturdays.

Citron
270 Willis Street
City Center
Wellington , North Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 4 801 6263
www.citronrestaurant.co.nz

It's won every culinary award in the country—and this dinky 30-seat dollhouse is still the best restaurant in the North Island's "Windy City." Here, classically trained Maori chef Rex Morgan, who delights in sourcing the best and rarest ingredients, serves up stunning (and frequently changing) eight-course degustation menus. Dishes might include seared venison served with black pudding and a thyme-porcini foam; grilled chicken breast with duck confit and Szechuan-spiced butternut puree; or lamb shank with charred eggplant in a red curry cream sauce. Make reservations well in advance.

Dinner only. Closed Sundays.

Dine by Peter Gordon
Skycity Grand Hotel, 90 Federal Street
City Center
Auckland , North Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 9 363 7030

Native son Peter Gordon burst onto the Wellington scene in 1986, then ran restaurants in London, New York and Istanbul before deciding he wanted to come home again. In spring 2005 he did so with a vengeance, taking over as master and commander of this sophisticated dining room in Auckland's newest hotel. He even had a hand in the look of the place: aged leather seats, dark wood floors, and marble bar. In 20 years, Gordon's style has evolved but hasn't really changed: He's still a primo Pacific Rim guy, able to fuse without tears, making it look easy and taste astonishing. Dishes like smoked coconut laksa with grilled shrimp, chicken galangal dumpling, green tea noodles, coriander, crispy shallots, and a fried quail's egg (that's an appetizer), or pan-fried blue cod on roast cauliflower and snake beans with pimentón-battered okra and lemon salsa sound as if they must surely have three ingredients too many—but one bite and you're a convert.

No lunch on weekends.

Engine Room
115 Queen Street
Northcote Point
Auckland , North Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 9 480 9502

This bustling, casual bistro just across the Harbour Bridge from Auckland's city center became a favorite just after it opened in February 2006. Chef-owners Natalia Schamroth and Carl Koppenhagen have created a menu that's unpretentious and rustic, with dishes like char-grilled steak brushed with butter and served with shoestring fries; pillowy goat-cheese tarts; and orecchiette with pork-and-fennel sausage. There would be howls of despair if they ever removed their churros with chocolate from the dessert menu. The bright, modest-size Art Deco room, inside a former post office, fills fast.

Dinner only. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Euro
Shed 22
Princes Wharf
Auckland , North Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 9 309 9866
www.eurobar.co.nz

A fashiony, sophisticated crowd throngs this culinary hot spot, set right on the swanky harbor-front complex of Princes Wharf (home to the Hilton). Euro is the joint creation of two Auckland über-chefs, Shane Yardley and Simon Gault (the latter worked as Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's personal chef), and diners can watch them at work while perching on Philippe Starck bar stools in the evenings. The seasonal, Med-influenced menu includes appetizers like crab and shrimp baked in a wood-fired oven and served with a dollop of jalapeño crème fraîche; and tempura oysters with a three-onion sauce. Some of the best main courses are cooked on the kitchen's wood-fired rotisserie grill—like pan-seared rabbit loin with kidney pie and kumara (sweet potato) puree. The service is as polished as the superyachts moored just past the outdoor tables.

French Café
210 Symonds Street
Eden Terrace
Auckland , North Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 9 377 1911
www.thefrenchcafe.co.nz

Visitors aren't likely to find this place by walking past it: It's set on a rather scruffy block at the edge of Auckland's downtown. But as well-heeled locals know, it's worth seeking out. Inside the airy, light-filled dining room, bold modern paintings by Kiwi artist Karl Maughan hang opposite large windows. British expat chef Simon Wright's French-influenced cuisine is equally sophisticated. Diners linger over plates like a ragout of snails, smoked bacon, and shallots on parsley risotto or the signature dish, roast duck with mandarin purée, kumara mash, and bok choy. The eight-course degustation menu is a bargain at NZ$110 (about US$80). But splurge and get the wine pairing, too. Reservations are essential.

Closed Sundays and Mondays. Lunch on Fridays only.

Grove
St. Patrick's Square, Wyndam Street
City Center
Auckland , North Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 9 368 4129
www.thegroverestaurant.co.nz

Rising star Sid Sahrawat's innovative dishes have won him raves ever since he took over Grove's kitchen in the winter of 2006. The restaurant, tucked behind St. Patrick's Cathedral in Auckland's city center, draws a corporate lunch crowd—but some dedicated foodies at night. There's a nine-course tasting menu, but you can also order à la carte dishes like rare beef "agnolotti" (thin slices of meat rolled around burnt-butter ice-cream) and slow-roasted free-range pork belly with lobster tempura, slivers of green apple, and Savoy cabbage. The 200-label wine list has a good selection by the glass; the sommelier will also sell you a half-bottle on request. Of the restaurant's two dining rooms, the more spacious, less clamorous back room is the best choice.

Closed Sundays. No lunch on Saturdays.

Herzog Winery & Restaurant
81 Jeffries Road
Blenheim , South Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 3 572 8770
www.herzog.co.nz

Widely considered the best restaurant in New Zealand, Herzog sits among the rolling vineyards of Blenheim, on the northeast coast just south of the Marlborough Sounds. Here, the dining room and the adjoining winery are run by Hans and Therese Herzog, Swiss natives whose family members have been vintners for centuries. Their restaurant, accordingly, has an old-world elegance, with French silver cutlery, fine crystal, and linen-draped tables. (Don't be surprised to see diners here wearing polo shirts or even jeans, though; this is the country, after all). Diners can choose from a three-course degustation menu or a five-course "avant-garde classic" menu. Since this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of meal, go for broke (US$135 per person) and choose the latter. You'll be treated to dishes like creamy chestnut soup with cognac and macerated prosciutto; pan-seared salmon with curried lentils and beurre blanc; and seared lamb loin and belly confit with polenta and gremolata jus. Each course—including a dessert of elderflower granita and mascarpone cannelloni—is paired with a vintage from Herzog's 500-label cellar. If you can't bear to leave after your meal, ask if the winery's lovely, garden-surrounded Rimu Cottage is available for the night.

Dinner only. Closed mid-May through mid-October.

Logan Brown Restaurant & Bar
192 Cuba Street
City Center
Wellington , North Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 4 801 5114
www.loganbrown.co.nz

Wellington's most atmospheric restaurant occupies a former 1920s bank building, whose high domed ceiling and Corinthian columns now overlook a wooden bar and booths with red banquettes. The paua (abalone) ravioli with basil, coriander, and lime beurre blanc is locally famous, and both the wild-boar pie (with cherry relish and roasted shallots) and the rack of lamb (with sautéed white beans and caramelized garlic custard) are top-notch. To aid the choice of after-dinner digestifs, servers bring around a drinks trolley—the grown-ups' equivalent of a dessert cart.

No lunch on weekends.

Saffron
18 Buckingham Street
Arrowtown , South Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 3 442 0131
www.saffronrestaurant.co.nz

No less a tastemaker than Charlie Trotter has raved about the food at Saffron—so prepare to book your table weeks in advance. Occupying an unfussy corrugated-iron building in the historic mining village of Arrowtown (about 15 minutes' drive east from Queenstown), the casual dining room is firelit in winter and crowded with a happy mix of skiers, foodie tourists, and local game hunters. All come for the creative, contemporary dishes whipped up by Aussie chefs Peter Gawron and Melanie Hill: starters like green-lipped mussels in a tamarind curry broth; mains like spice-crusted pork tenderloin on Indian vegetable cakes, served with a ginger-yogurt dressing; and desserts like steamed carrot pudding with toffee sauce. After dinner, head next door to Gawron and Hill's live-jazz cocktail bar, the Blue Door.

Closed the first two weeks of June.

Sally's Restaurant
25 The Strand
Russell , North Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 9 403 7652
www.sallysrestaurant.co.nz

In this sweet seaside village in the Bay of Islands, where the warm-weather population swells with tourists and "swallows" (better known in North America as "summer people"), Sally's is a year-round comfort. In the winter, the dining room, with windows overlooking the waterfront promenade, is warm and welcoming, and so is the simple, hearty fare, like seafood chowder crammed with fresh mussels, shrimp, and catch-of-the-day fish such as native John Dory. In the summer, you can grab a table on the patio and dig into a portion of perfectly crunchy fish and chips. Proprietor Sally Taylor, a fixture in Russell for more than 25 years, is always on hand to greet diners.

Vie
Sofitel Hotel
Duke Street
Queenstown , South Island
New Zealand
Tel: 64 3 450 0045
www.sofitelqueenstown.com

In summertime, visitors have their choice of places to breakfast in Queenstown, but in winter, the pickings are slim. Vie, on the third floor of the Sofitel, has an airy, minimalist modern dining room that still manages to feel cozy on a cold July morning. Grilled chorizo with potato cakes or banana buttermilk pancakes, along with a "flat white" coffee, are perfect fuel for a long day on the slopes.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.