From the Metro Top 50 Restaurants 2018.
A night out at Cibo always feels like a celebration. The music is loud; boisterous chatter fills the lofty space and old friends on their second bottle of wine seem to have lost track of time under the glittering lights of the courtyard. But any good party is only as good as its host, and here Jeremy Turner keeps everything under control with aplomb, never too busy to stop and chat as he tops up the Champagne. Executive chef Kate Fay’s menu is long and Asian leaning and often riffs on street food: an artfully plated banh mi here, tandoori prawns with onion bhaji there. A special mention for the desserts – like everything at Cibo they are playful, decadent and best shared in the company of good friends.
What it offers Shared-plate options / Dégustation options / Express menu / Fixed-price meals / Good for vegetarians / Good seating outside / Takes large groups / Craft beer selection
A favourite dish Land and Sea (rib-eye, shrimp, dashi jus, bone marrow and potato).
Hours Lunch Mon-Fri, Dinner Mon-Sat
Chef Kate Fay
91 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell
At Han, the signature barbecue dish comes out with a small charcoal brazier on which to cook your wagyu: it’s at once authentic and elegant. The restaurant is small and dark, with pools of light; the service is polished and there’s a great wine list. Barbecue aside, the menu is refined and thoughtful, featuring dishes you’d expect to find in a much more formal environment than this. Recently, we delighted in a dish of venison yukhoe (tartare) served with cashew, seaweed powder and crispy anchovies; we also loved the “military stew” featuring chorizo broth, house vegan kimchi, oxtail and sago.
What it offers Good for vegetarians / Set menu available / Free-range chicken and/or pork, wild-caught prawns and squid / Gluten-free available / Shared-plate options / Bar / Outdoor seating / Craft beer selection / Wheelchair accessible
A favourite dish Beef galbi, caramelised beetroot, grilled kimchi, pumpkin seed and gochujang sauce.
Hours Lunch Wed-Sat, Dinner Wed-Sun
Chef Min Baek
100 Parnell Rd, Parnell
This little place hidden down an alleyway off Parnell’s main street has a reputation for some seriously boundary-pushing fine dining. Seating just 25 diners in understated Scandi-inspired surrounds, Pasture is the passion of Ed and Laura Verner, who are obsessed with foraging, fermenting and fire. Jars of weird and wonderful concoctions line the shelves in the open kitchen, which is dominated by an impressive open-fire brick hearth. Those lucky enough to nab a seat at the pass can observe all the action in the kitchen, as Ed and his small team of plaid-shirted chefs work their magic with ingredients. The 10-course menu, with optional extras, surprises at every turn, and the beverage pairings take each dish to new heights.
What it offers Dégustation dining only / Juice pairing / Free-range chicken and/or pork / Good for vegetarians / Craft beer selection
A favourite dish Fresh plum with pickled spruce and wood-fired plum doughnuts with anise hyssop sugar
Awards Winner, Best Drinks List; Runner-up, Best Fine Dining; Finalist, Best Chef: Ed Verner
Hours Dinner Wed-Sun
Chef Ed Verner
235 Parnell Rd, Parnell
A vibrant little local with loads of charm, thanks to amiable host Amy de Vries and her team of polished waiters. This is one of the most understated of the Hip Group’s outfits in terms of its design but it’s an aesthetic that matches the menu: Kumeu-grown produce and ethically sourced proteins are treated tenderly by executive chef Mike de Vries, resulting in unfussy food which tastes just of itself. It’s always busy here so evening bookings are recommended, especially in the warmer months when the bifold doors are open and the heady summer air wafts in: cool off with a carafe of house rosé, the perfect amount for two. We love Rosie’s “cork and fork” Mondays, when you can bring your own wine (free corkage) and there’s always an off-menu chef’s special to try.
What it offers Shared-plate options / Good for vegetarians / Free-range chicken and/or pork / Craft beer selection / Good for kids / BYO Mondays
A favourite dish Charred eggplant with romesco crème and onion rings.
Bookings Only for large groups
Hours Breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days
Chef Mike de Vries
82 Gladstone Rd
When Auckland’s colder months set in, there are few places better to rug up than smokehouse-cum-ski chalet Woodpecker Hill, where you’re beckoned in by the warmth of an enormous American-made smoker for an unforgettable dinner. If executive chef Che Barrington’s menu of Southeast Asian flavours initially seems familiar, think again. Unlike at the other restaurants he co-owns with Mark Wallbank, dishes like fatty (in a good way) slow-cooked beef short ribs and juicy barbecue lamb are enhanced by the pleasing intensity of chilli and aromatics, and suddenly what sounds like something you’ve heard before feels all brand new.
What it offers Shared-plate options / Fixed-price meals (on Sundays and with large group bookings) /Good for vegetarians / Takes large groups / Craft beer selection / Good for kids
A favourite dish Barbecue lamb curry, pickled garlic, shallots, ginger, lemongrass and dry spices
Hours Lunch and dinner 7 days
Chefs Che Barrington, executive chef
196 Parnell Rd, Parnell