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Concierge.com

New Zealand's North Island Restaurants

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.

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.

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.

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