Our favourite restaurants

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A flavourful mix of culinary innovation and cultural diversity has helped earn New Zealand's reputation as an exciting gourmet destination for discerning foodies.

There are many contemporary Kiwi chefs taking New Zealand food to a new level. Here are some of own our favourite restaurants if you want to treat yourself to a gourmet night out.
 

Auckland: Meredith’s

Dining at Meredith’s is a culinary experience that lives up to all the hype. Everything about the restaurant is surprising - from its intimate spaces, to its location, to the way chef Michael Meredith deconstructs his dishes and re-introduces the ingredients in completely unexpected ways.

 

The only way to go at Meredith’s is the seven course degustation men – and make sure you do the wine matches as well. You will discover all the hidden delights of each dish at the same time as your dining partners - and you will spend the whole night discussing the food, its textures, flavours, and ingredients.

We love Meredith’s so much that one of our team says she would prefer to not eat for 48 hours after one of Michael’s meals, so she can continue to savour the flavours and culinary delight that is the hallmark of this wonderful establishment.
 

Auckland: Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar

The Depot's kitchenIf you prefer your dining experiences more rustic and your food simpler in style, Al Brown’s new eatery in downtown Auckland could be just the ticket. For Kiwis, the Depot will bring waves of nostalgia; for international visitors it will provide a quintessential New Zealand dining experience.

The simple menu is stuffed with the best New Zealand produce, and the restaurant has already established a reputation for having the best and freshest seafood and shellfish in the city. Al Brown is well known for his love of the great New Zealand outdoors from his various television shows, and that same philosophy permeates the menu.

If you like the simple things done well with top-notch ingredients, you’ll love the Depot. It’s completely unpretentious, but the flavours are fabulous. That’s why it has just won Metro Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year and, in our opinion, it’s well deserved.
 

Wellington: Martin Bosely’s

Martin Bosely's dining roomMartin Bosely’s fine dining restaurant at the Port Nicholson Yacht Club on the waterfront is deservedly famous for the quality and freshness of its seafood and depth of its wine list. The menu focuses on the best local produce, and the wine list showcases the nearby regions of Martinborough and Marlborough.

The food has been labelled ‘avant garde haute cuisine’, but actually it’s full of intriguing combinations of ingredients that work, presented beautifully with the utmost attention to detail.

While Martin’s restaurant is definitely at the fine dining end of the scale, the restaurant’s decor and friendly staff create a warm welcome for diners. The long, narrow room also provides a close-up view of Wellington’s fine harbour from every table.

The Concierge NZ team have never been disappointed when dining in this special spot.
 

Wellington: The Ambeli

If you are looking for a more casual dining experience, The Ambeli on Mount Victoria combines the ambience of a neighbourhood bistro with the food of a fine dining establishment.

In the past The Ambeli has won Cuisine Magazine’s Awards for Best Neighbourhood Restaurant, and been runner-up for Best Smart Dining; its proprietor Shae Moleta has also been named Restaurant Personality of the Year.

 

People go to The Ambeli for the food and the service - Shae is always out front charming the diners with his intimate knowledge of the menu and wine lists, and he is also an excellent sommelier. The Ambeli is very serious about its wine and showcases the best New Zealand vintages.

The menu has strong Mediterranean influences, but this is no rustic fare. The dishes are delicate and sophisticated, and beautifully presented.
 

Christchurch: Pescatore

Pescatore, the restaurant in the boutique George Hotel reopens on 9 June, after being closed for two months due to building work.

When it reopens its doors this week, the restaurant will be a safe choice in more ways than one as the iconic restaurant always delivers a dining experience to remember. You can dine from a thoughtfully constructed a la carte menu, a five-course menu which gives the flexibility of some choices from a well balanced menu  (a sort of ‘semi – degustation option), or the full nine-course degustation menu matched with wine.

Pescatore produces complex dishes that use the latest food technologies. There is an element of theatricality to the presentation that creates a great buzz in the dining room.
 

Dunedin: Fleur’s Place

This little gem of a restaurant is worth the hour’s drive north of Dunedin city. Located in the little seaside village of Moeraki, Fleur Sullivan’s tiny eatery has won international accolades from celebrity chefs like Rick Stein.

Fleur’s menu is simple and based on whatever is available on the day - the selection of seafood caught by the Moeraki Bay fishing boats that unload their daily catch on the wharf beside the restaurant.

Wednesday to Sunday, the blackboard menu lists the day’s catch - which could include blue cod, John Dory, moki, blue nose, gurnard, sole, flounder, groper, crayfish (lobster). Titi or muttonbird - another local delicacy - also frequently features on the menu.

Regional organic growers supply most of the other ingredients, including heritage and unique New Zealand vegetable varieties. And the wine list includes a good selection of local vintages from nearby Central Otago.

Fleur’s Place is an authentic New Zealand experience where the fresh ingredients, simply and beautifully prepared, are the stars of every dish.
 

Queenstown: Wai Waterfront Restaurant

For location and ambience Wai Waterfront Restaurant on Queenstown’s Steamer Wharf is pretty much unbeatable. The waters of Lake Wakatipu literally lap at its base and the stunning Remarkables mountain range dominates the view.

On a cold winter's evening the warm atmosphere of the Wai is inviting and cosy, and diners can watch the ever-changing colours of the snow-capped Remarkables. The decor is elegant and simple, with wooden floors, rattan chairs, and a dramatically high ceiling.

The restaurant is recognised as having one of the best oyster menus in the country – natural, warmed, baked or battered – oyster lovers have an endless selection to chose from. The Wai's fish and seafood choices change daily and, combined with New Zealand lamb, beef, duck and vegetarian dishes, the menu is extensive and a true reflection of the best New Zealand produce.

Our team love the setting, the service, and the food at Wai. Visitors to Queenstown have many choices in eateries, but this one stands out.