Nov 19, 2014 Restaurants
SkyCity has showered its largesse on a bunch of celebrity chefs, and the results are… fabulous. Nic Watt’s Masu is our supreme winner and four of its neighbours are also in our Top 50. But while SkyCity — and Britomart — have been hogging a lot of the attention, the best of Auckland’s other restaurateurs are fighting back.
The city is reinventing itself and restaurants are in the thick of it — on the waterfront, in Britomart, in the suburbs and, most notably in Ponsonby, where the renaissance is phenomenal. Ponsonby Rd currently offers the winners of our awards for Best Fine Dining (Sidart), Best Casual Bistro (the marvellous Orphans Kitchen, whose owners have won another new award, for Best New Talent) and Best Mid-size Drinks List (Ponsonby Road Bistro). In addition, the Ponsonby Strip boasts the best Thai (Moochowchow), best food emporium (Ponsonby Central) and the funkiest bar/bistro in the whole wide city — that would be The Blue Breeze Inn. And stalwarts like SPQR have stayed right among the action.
Trends? Shared plates we love, small plates not so much (why does everything come in threes when you’re dining as a couple?). Foam is dead, at last. Everyone does schnitzel (perfect comfort food, sure, but we’ll be over it soon enough); free-range is almost standard; several places open early and close late. Local and seasonal is one catch-cry, but so is exotic: there’s a lot of food on Auckland menus that comes from as far away as you can go and still be on the planet. Will there be a debate about that?
Oysters are often shucked fresh, which puts Te Matuku, Mahurangi, Orongo Bay, Tio Point and others in the ascendant and poses a challenge for Bluff, where the oysters are pre-shucked before being sent north. There’s definitely going to be a fight about that.
What makes a top Auckland restaurant in 2014? What we think is: terrific food, served with great charm and efficiency in a smart but probably somewhat informal atmosphere. Restaurants like the 50 listed below.
Soto (now closed)