There has never been a better time for the Cuisine Good Food Awards to get behind the hospitality industry and help to drive a story that is filled with opportunity and promise. As restaurants outside of Auckland had restrictions lifted earlier, we can support them right now.

For this reason, we have decided to present our awards to you in two parts. In this issue we encourage you to celebrate our selection of the diversely talented teams and their restaurants in many locations around the country, who are offering exceptional dining experiences. This is your opportunity to make sure that they are on your summer restaurant hit-list. You will notice that Auckland is not yet included as we wait for restaurants and teams to get back into the swing of things. On 8 February at 8pm we will invite you to take a front-row seat at our digital awards celebration, as we announce the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2021/2022 proudly presented by American Express. This presentation will include the winners of a range of exciting categories, including the Cuisine Chef of the Year and the American Express Restaurant of the Year, plus the allocation of our coveted hats for the very best of the best. Our March issue (on sale 14 February) will also include New Zealand’s much-anticipated dining bible, the Cuisine Good Food Guide for 2021/2022, including the Auckland restaurants.

Last year we had to cancel our annual awards as lockdowns prevented us from getting around the country. This year we have navigated ever-changing restrictions to uncover New Zealand’s best dining experiences and have gained even more respect for an industry that has shown great creativity and resilience. Despite huge challenges it has bounced back and is forging ahead with even brighter plans for the future.

Along with our partners American Express, Antipodes, De’Longhi, Ōra King and Pead, we are excited to reveal part one of our list of finalists to you in this glorious issue of Cuisine. We know you’ll be excited too. Mark your calendars for 8pm on 8 February at cuisine.co.nz, and meanwhile make sure you visit as many of these excellent restaurants as you can.

Co-Directors, Slick & Sassy Media Ltd.



Just like many of our culinary candidates, we’ve been out foraging, our judges scouring the country in our search of excellence. We’ve found it in many forms: porcini gelato and kelp cream dessert – dessert! – at Mapu; sumac processed from freshly picked berries on the Horowhenua coast, and powdered pōhutukawa at 50-50. Pomp and ceremony (plus audience participation) were dished up with the chateaubriand at Hippopotamus, while Hillside’s 100% plant-based line-up has, we believe, been known to sway committed carnivores.

We’ve revisited oldies that are still goodies – some of which now have third-generation diners making it their fave. And we have found the teeniest, weirdest, wonderful dive bars that widened our eyes with surprise. We soaked up the comfy, the edgy and a whole lot of stunning.

This year’s Cuisine Good Food Guide will come with an elephantine caveat. COVID has challenged the hospitality industry beyond all that is imaginable: lockdowns, levels, traffic lights and more have changed the food scenery forever. When, we wonder, will it ever end? And what will things look like when it does? But then we think of people like Bradley Hornby at Blenheim’s Arbour. When a group of diners coaxed him out of the kitchen to chat about the food and congratulate him on their meal not so long ago, he responded by saying, “It’s you that we should be clapping for – you hold the power of keeping small businesses open.” That’s never been more important than now, when restaurant doors are opening a little more.

It is, therefore, our delight to deliver the results of our foray, which was conducted in stages, depending on what level a region was functioning at at the time. We salute these restaurants, cafés and bars, for their ingenuity, their willingness to explore new food boundaries, their commitment to sustainability, their observance of tradition – and their indefatigability. We salute every staff member who turned our work into a treat. The best thing you can do now is to support them. It’s got to be good for you, too: in doing so, you’ll be contributing to some gross domestic happiness.

And just like Bradley, we are clapping too – for you, our audience. He’s right: you do hold the power of keeping business – ours included – open. Even in these unprecedented times, New Zealand’s restaurants, bars and cafés continue to excel and excite. Here we bring you, in no particular order, the finalists in the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2021, for regions outside Auckland.


The Auckland finalists will be included in the Cuisine Good Food Guide which comes with the next issue of Cuisine.

There is fish, of course. And then there is fish as dished up by chef Teresa Pert. She doesn’t adhere to trends and she hates waste. Which is why, when the beautiful, freshest fillets of the day have been put in all their finery on the menu, Teresa will turn her hand to getting the best out of the rest. You, dear diner, are the winner. Those fab fish sammies – teeny-weeny French toast sandwiches – are made from belly offcuts. We want more. Ortega makes you feel like you’re part of the family: a relaxed, happy one. And if you’re not a fan of fish, well there’s premium meat offerings and enticing vegetarian menu mentions. A big focus on sustainability adds cred to Ortega. And it’s underscored by a wine list that enables comfortable choice.
16 Majoribanks St, Mt Victoria, Wellington / ortega.co.nz

Photography Amber-Jayne Bain

You don’t have to like gin to be a fan of Gin Gin. So before you eye up the drinks list, take a look at the menu. There are pizzas (stracciatella, fermented chilli, garlic and lemon); there is Tora Collective blackfoot pāua. It’s all the work of one of the youngest and brightest chefs among us, Jackson Mehlhopt. Gin genius.
4-6 New Regent St, Christchurch / gingin.co.nz

Brilliance beats within the vibrant blue beach bungalow on Napier’s foreshore in the form of chef Jeremy Rameka and partner/maitre d’ Natalie Bulman. This is the stuff of childhood memories, using natural techniques while retaining the integrity of fresh ingredients. Every single ingredient has a reason for being there; the flavours are pure and honest throughout. Simplicity, together with an intimate knowledge of local ingredients, is all it takes to create a masterpiece.
209 Marine Parade, Napier / pacificarestaurant.co.nz

Mr Pickles Bar & Eatery

The whole idea of Mr Pickles – the Waikato riverside restaurant conceived by Mat Pedley and business partner Maurice Montero – is about treating people as they want to be treated themselves. On that basis, diners are on to a winner. Mr Pickles has already picked up many awards, both front of house and in the kitchen. The menu and food list is built on the kind of food they want to eat when they go out. Think seasonal and eclectic; go with the intention of sharing and don’t bypass the mix-and-match charcuterie section that has a banging meat and cheese selection. If success is measured by repeat requests, you need look no further than the brined and double-fried Sichuan-coated chicken thigh with chilli garlic caramel sauce.
298 Victoria St, Hamilton Central / mrpickles.co.nz

Black Robin Photography

It would be easy to, er, run amok as you work your way through the menu at this new-ish kid on Majoribanks. Old hands Thom Millett and Natasha (Tashie) Piper have relocated from Sydney to deliver a wildly eclectic food style. It’s cheeky, it’s original and it’s got a touch of WOMAD to it. The drinks list is totally Aotearoa/Aus.
18 Majoribanks St, Mt Victoria, Wellington / amok.co.nz

Photography Amber-Jayne Bain

The Queenstown stalwart is meat-predominant, but recognition is also given to pescatarians and vegetarians. The capacious menu accommodates all manner of sides, salads, sauces and butters and a boutique selection of desserts. An extensive wine list rounds out the lush, luxurious experience.
17 Marine Parade, Queenstown / botswanabutchery.co.nz

This impressively sited restaurant pavilion hovers over the outer Bay of Islands. From this bright and elevated top-touristy spot, feast on offerings from both the panorama and the plate. Highly skilled chef Daniel Fraser presents a showcase of local ingredients with almost obsessive provenance. He features home-grown and absolutely top-quality, ethically sourced ingredients from carefully selected suppliers. Service is simple, but attentive and knowledgeable. Paroa Bay wines, naturally, dominate the list, with a connoisseur’s selection of imported, pricey gems on top.
46 Otamarua Rd, Paroa Bay, Russell / thelindisgroup.com

One of the country’s oldest homesteads has a fine-dining restaurant that even those not overnighting can sink into. Suppliers are all within cooee, underscoring the Wallingford ethos of keeping things local. With a kitchen garden, homegrown truffles and the combined talents of hosts Chris Stockdale and Jeanette Woerner, what more could you need?
2914 Porangahau Rd, Wallingford, Hawke’s Bay / wallingford.co.nz

Photography Pippa Marfee

Christchurch-born chef/owner Tom Hutchison has gone around the world and back again in his pursuit and delivery of good taste. His wife Kate manages the Kent Terrace restaurant, which prides itself on local seafood and ethical produce. Tom extols his restaurant’s values: fresh, pure and uncluttered. The warm and vibrant Capitol is but a hop, skip and jump from Courtenay Place. It serves a number of needs, from a cocktail at the bar, to a spontaneous after-work meal, to a fully-fledged grand occasion.
10 Kent Terrace, Mt Victoria, Wellington / capitolrestaurant.co.nz

Yanina and Pablo Tacchini have taken Oamaru by the horns, with three thriving establishments in the town. All hail to them. Cucina reflects their Argentinian, Italian and Spanish heritage. So, there is pisco sour to drink; there are empanadas and pastas galore. But abandon all thoughts of autonomy and yield instead to Pablo’s tasting menu. As he says, “Trust the chef.” Too terrific.
1 Tees St, South Hill, Oamaru / cucinaoamaru.co.nz

Photography Yanina Tacchini

For a masterclass in farm to plate, look no further than Hawker. Most vegetables come from owner Matt Bouterey’s Appleby farm and chef Riki Day works magic with this bounty on a daily basis. Matt’s Michelin background is evident here, too.
296 Trafalgar St, Nelson / hawkerhouse.co.nz

With a resume that includes the likes of Noma, executive chef Vaughan Mabee is no stranger to excellence. He was awarded our Best Chef gong in 2019, when he also took Amisfield to three hats. That reputation continues in all its gloriousness. While food and beverage director Tony Stewart oversees the magic on the restaurant floor, Vaughan works closely with a dedicated forager and experienced charcutier to hunt, gather and curate ingredients from their Central Otago backdoor to tell a New Zealand food story that is unsurpassed. Amisfield’s organic single vineyard estate wines provide the perfect partners along with a selection of the world’s best.
10 Lake Hayes Rd, Queenstown / amisfield.co.nz

Bistronomy has enjoyed season-ticket status on our awards list for many years. After pivoting from fine- dining to a more relaxed menu post-COVID 2020, it’s now undergone further change. Jason Brown (ex-Elephant Hill Estate vineyard) has picked up the business from former chef/owner James Beck and continues to deliver deliciousness, comfort and joy from this now iconic neighbourhood lovely.
40 Hastings St, Napier / bistronomy.co.nz

Somerset offers two menus: one classic; one weekly. “Some dishes we are simply not allowed to remove because they have become so strongly associated with us,” says Anne Butcher, who along with partner, co-founder and chef Rick Lowe serves passion on a multitude of magnificent plates.
30 Bethlehem Rd, Bethlehem, Tauranga / somersetcottage.co.nz

Homesick Auckland-based Italians have been known to spend their days off driving 150km to Cambridge, just to get a taste of Alpino. We know why: a warm, groovy sense of belonging envelops the old Cambridge post office. Graze casually or eat fancy.
43-45 Victoria St, Cambridge / alpino.co.nz

Tītī is gorgeous from top to toe. The menus are elegant, as is the carefully curated selection of wines to match. Trust in chef Hannes Bareiter’s choice, as he and partner Melanie Hartman (she’s superbly across front of house) know their stuff.
24 The Esplanade, St Clair, Dunedin / titi.co.nz

Photography Isabella Harrex

Chef Pierre Fenoux shines the light on seasonally inspired, innovative menus that showcase the best of New Zealand produce, with a nod to his French homeland. Spontaneity is a big part of this dégustation lineup, largely influenced by what’s freshest and best. Dishes are admirably matched with wines.
270 Willis St, Te Aro, Wellington / janobistro.co.nz

A little bit comfy, a little bit edgy and a whole lot of yum. Black Barn Bistro is a produce-driven winery restaurant that blends the best of both wine and food worlds. Executive chef Regnar Christensen and his team pare their dishes back to let the Hawke’s Bay ingredients shine, taking you on a diversely delicious journey. The wine list, while unsurprisingly big on its eponymous and spectacular label, extends to reflect other top offerings, both from within these shores and beyond.
Black Barn Rd, Havelock North / blackbarn.com

A proud showcase for artisans and producers, Arbour’s thoughtful food and drinks menu gently guides you towards the very essence of Marlborough flavour. Choose from the smaller local tasting menu or the seven-course favourite, ‘The Many’ option. Either way, you know you’re getting the very best. Our favourite: every single thing. The delicate smoke-cured butterfish with storm clams from Cloudy Bay with leeks and lemon emulsion is but one fine example. If you do nothing else in Blenheim, book here.
6 Godfrey Rd, Blenheim / arbour.co.nz

Photography Richard Briggs

The former post office now delivers a new message: clean, green values and a farm-to-plate process. The Clarence experience involves more than what’s on the plate, bringing together a wealth of local producers and growers to produce food that is clever, but not exhausting. Clarence is also big on well-concocted cocktails, a comprehensive wine list and attentive service. Executive chef Perrin Yates’ inventive efforts make a firm mark on Tauranga’s rapidly developing food and drink scene.
51 Willow St, Tauranga / clarencetauranga.co.nz

Photography Alice Veysey

When other chefs seek out yum cha, this is where they come. It’s the benchmark place to be. If you don’t want a comfort dumpling, there’s a 26-page menu covering each and every Cantonese base: whole fish, live fish, Peking duck – you name it. Slick service bolsters this operation, totally blitzing the opposition. A confined but competent drinks list.
25 Tory St, Te Aro, Wellington / wellingtondragons.co.nz

The sight of hospitality royalty duo Prue Barton and David Griffiths is one huge guarantee that good times await. Their menu isn’t just on trend, it will sometimes set the trends. Prue and David ensure all bases are covered in this Napier central spot.
47 Tennyson St, Napier / misterd.co.nz

One of a family of super- cool hospo babies owned in Ōtepoti by Andre Shi, PSH is unashamedly meat focussed. Chef Quillan Gutberlet leads the team with exciting tastes of the south. Slam bang on The Octagon, this is where comfort meets style.
10 The Octagon, Dunedin Central / prohibitionsmokehouse.co.nz

The former boot factory now cobbles together a short, sharp menu with largely Asian-based flavours, (though chips with tomato sauce and mayo get a look in, too). A light, bright dining room is enhanced by banquette seating, large blackboards and an open kitchen. You’ll find some fine wines; more than 40 are cellared and the majority are available by the glass.
1st floor, 107 Victoria St, Te Aro, Wellington
/ wbcrestaurant.co.nz

Wicked little cocktails, banging bar bites and a main dining room experience built on an elegant menu that covers all the very best of favourite bistro bases. This culinary hotspot has a refreshing approach from chef Carl Maunder, delivering experiences intensely focussed on the delicious.
31 Gover St, New Plymouth
/ statebistro.co.nz

This hillside spot thrives under the deft hand of head chef Amy Gillies. It performs so well as a local that it draws in outsiders, that’s why it’s always buzzy. The concise menu is bolstered with daily specials. Forever fresh and good.
5 Todman St, Brooklyn, Wellington / saltypidgin.nz

Founder and food legend Julie Clark has harnessed the skills of chef and business partner Hayden McMillan to bring new life to this iconic restaurant. In its 15-year existence, Floriditas has consistently delivered outstanding food to a loyal foodie following, as well as captivating the tastes of grateful tourists. McMillan has a top trans-Tasman pedigree (Auckland, Melbourne) and since his 2020 arrival at Floriditas he’s won Wellington’s heart. Flo’s ingredient-driven menu stacks up across breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner with the addition of a wickedly indulgent counter display of house-made cakes and pastries that you can’t say no to. Stalwarts include the brown sugar pavs and the smoked fish, potato and herb hash – but it’s the sophisticated plates deftly produced to reflect seasonal flavours that are the very essence of Floriditas.
161 Cuba St, Wellington / floriditas.co.nz

Photography Amber-Jayne Bain

This Hamilton eatery is committed to using top-of-the-range products (sourced both locally and nationwide) and allowing them to blow their own trumpets. That takes on extra significance when you learn they’re also big on maintaining a low carbon footprint – especially when it comes to sustainable fishing. Consider, for example, the pan-fried snapper with Anna potato, baby leeks and carrot, kissed with an oyster velouté. To dine at Palate is to experience a sense of having experienced something special.
20 Alma St, Hamilton Central / palaterestaurant.co.nz

Mesita is Spanish for small table and this cosy, candle-lit restaurant and wine bar is tucked away off Martinborough’s square. Wednesday is taco night, Thursday is comfort food (think gourmet burgers and fried chicken) while Friday and Saturday offer small and large plates. The Latin American- inspired menu changes weekly and is posted on Instagram and Facebook. The wine list is small and local and the cocktails are excellent.
14C Ohio St, Martinborough / mesita.net

Even in Newtown, a suburb well known for alternative bars and coffee shops, Mason stands out. The tiny space, formerly a record shop, has death-themed art and signs reflecting its former self. Ignore the loud music and take a look at the tasty bar snacks which further define it. Owner/chef Matt Hawke (ex-Rita) blends Italian style with Middle Eastern touches. There are several vegetarian options, the sharing plates sparkle with bright flavours and deliciously obscure components will be sure to arouse your curiosity and your tastebuds.
3 Wilson St, Newton, Wellington
/ barmason.co.nz

Enter the age of the new gourmet, as prescribed by executive chef Jiwon Do. This is special dégustation dining, which turns the term ‘fine dining’ on its head. “I want to serve the stories of my producers and tell diners about the beautiful product of our land and sea,” Jiwon says. He does it with theatrical bent and audience participation too. Jiwon has a life-long love of classical French cookery. When customers voice satisfaction: “I’m beyond happy. It’s a phenomenal thing.”
90 Cable St, Te Aro, Wellington / qthotels.com

Photography Amber-Jayne Bain

Up the stairs, through the big red door you’ll find a menu big on… meat. But not just any sort. Only ethically farmed prime cuts make it, they say. The same goes for the partners on the plate.
34A Egmont St, New Plymouth / meatandliquor.co.nz

Ben Bayly named Aosta in Arrowtown after the small town in northern Italy. Interestingly, both places lie on the 45th parallel. The synergies continue in the Arrowtown kitchen as Bayly, a hospo heavyweight, brings to the fore all the stuff he’s been doing best since way back in those Aosta days. The flavours may be Italian; the menu is as close to local as you can get.
18 Buckingham St, Arrowtown / aosta.nz

Photography Sam Stewart

Tokyo’s tucked-away bars inspired Shawn McGowan to stamp his own imprint on Japanese food, while paying homage to some of New Zealand’s finest. Shawn (ex-Amisfield, Pegasus Bay) knows his stuff; the sushi taco is a crowd-pleaser; raw Black Origin wagyu with a spicy kick is an explosion of balanced flavours; other sushi tacos include soft-shell crab and tempura prawn. Adventurous yakitori options, commendable vegan mentions and an on-point beverage list complete the package. Shawn’s wife Juliana is the perfect front-of-house host.
20 Welles St, Christchurch Central / baryoku.co.nz

Photography Charlie Jackson

The masterful strawberry soufflé certainly rises to the occasion here at Harvest. So save some room for pudding at this grand old Marlborough dame, where unclothed tables and a striking new decor make the occasion. The Mibrasa charcoal oven adds a new kick to the menu. An interesting and comprehensive wine list is bolstered by good beers, homemade sodas (including lemonade made the old-fashioned way), a clutch of cocktails and good spirits. Well-executed, provenanced dishes sit prettily amid traditional, designer elegance.
776 Rapaura Rd, Blenheim / themarlborough.co.nz

There’s an emphasis on sustainability, with hospitality hero and co-owner Shepherd Elliott a leader in getting the absolute best from every product and ensuring there’s zilch in the way of waste. The drinks list ensures all tastes are ably accounted for, so settle in to enjoy these 70s-inspired surroundings.
1/5 Eva St, Te Aro, Wellington / shepherdrestaurant.co.nz

To enter into Mapu is to experience the casual bravado of owner/chef/sommelier Giulio Sturla. This is as much a dining encounter as it is a storybook occasion: Giulio cooks under your nose, talking the provenance of each dish as he serves. Settle in for some delightful surprises. The porcini gelato with kelp cream is a dessert, not a starter. The dry-aged moki has pinenut milk made from scratch. Wine? Giulio provides the match. Non-alcoholic? He’ll handcraft that, too.
8A London St, Lyttelton, Christchurch / giuliosturla.com

In Wellington’s self-styled art precinct on Wakefield Street you’ll find Raechal Ferguson and Laura Greenfield at Field & Green, with their delicious interpretation of ‘European Soul Food’. Relaxed, chic and definitely high on the flavour volume, this gallery-like space evolves around the pass where you can see Laura and her talented team delivering serious comfort food with a side serving of cool. Their ice creams have developed such a cult following that we are still pinching ourselves that Laura has shared her secret recipe.
262 Wakefield St, Te Aro, Wellingtonfieldandgreen.co.nz

This southern restaurant experience is one that’s well worth travelling for. Just 15km north of Oamaru, it’s the domain of chef/owner Bevan Smith, whose parents, Dot and Neil, built this family farm on a bed of river stone. Bevan has at his very fingertips an abundance of excellent produce from the extensive vegetable gardens and orchards that surround and define this place. The menu changes regularly to showcase ingredients at their very peak: you can almost smell the soil from the organic jersey bennes that have just been prised from their bed next door. Here at Riverstone, they like to keep the menu short; our memories of intense local flavour will last a whole lot longer.
1431 State Highway 1, Oamaru / riverstonekitchen.co.nz

Hiakai was one of Time magazine’s ‘Greatest Places’ of 2019. And that was just months after chef Monique Fiso found an address she could finally call home. Hiakai – the Māori word for hungry – trumpets Māori and Polynesian ingredients in modern and innovative ways. What will Monique pull out from the pātaka (pantry) for your tasting journey? Red matipo leaf syrup, kiekie flower gin, karamū berry vinegar perhaps. Or maybe manono bark which in its latest incarnation is used in a hokey pokey-ish ice cream.
40 Wallace St, Mt Cook, Wellington / hiakai.co.nz

Photography Amber-Jayne Bain

This is a place for great city dining: indeed, it’s the kind of restaurant that you could eat at for a week and have a different food experience every single night. Underscored by fantastic service, Charley Noble is still one of the capital’s most classic dining experiences. Ground Floor, Huddart Parker Building,
1 Post Office Square, Te Aro, Wellington / charleynoble.co.nz

The brainchild of Casey McDonald – head chef at Craggy Range – this upscale diner does the less formal stuff than its Craggy counterpart. Most of the cooking (burgers included) is courtesy of a fiendish, hot and costly Josper grill. With Casey overseeing the operation, chef Josh Christie delivers on a top promise of fabulous foods. Craggy Range wines predominate. Delish.
15 Joll Rd, Havelock North / marys.co.nz

Photography Florence Charvin

Chef Sam Clark’s credentials blazed his trail to Napier’s former central fire station. The ex-head chef of Auckland’s revered fine-diner Clooney has brought a relatively simple blend of French mixed with Italian to this base. Sam and co-owner/pastry chef Florencia Menehem have set the bar high in their efforts to tell a sustainable local food story: 90% of the produce is organic. This approach allows them to emphasise the quality of the local meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables (consider the Te Mana lamb rack with ’nduja dressing, anjo blanco basil and excruciatingly well-roasted carrots). You will quickly recognise this chef’s ability to elevate ingredients in a way that makes them the very best version of themselves. The wine list is 100% Hawke’s Bay. Memories are made of this delightful locavore experience.
163 Tennyson St, Napier South / centralfirestation.co.nz

Photography Florence Charvin

If you haven’t been to Shed 5, you haven’t been to Wellington. The Queen’s Wharf stalwart opened in 1992 and continues to hold its place as one of the capital’s capital seafood spots. Geoff Ngan started here as a commis way back; now he’s the biggest fish in the place. They’re so committed to their craft, they even have an in-house fishmonger.
Queen’s Wharf, Wellington Central / shed5.co.nz

On the banks of the Whanganui and Retaruke Rivers sits Blue Duck Station, where owner Dan Steele and family, together with chef Jack Cashmore, have created The Chef’s Table at the ‘Top of the World’, one of the highest points of the station. The experience begins with a two-hour ATV bush safari tour of Blue Duck’s forest, rivers and conservation projects. Back at the table, the menu features 11 dishes of farmed and foraged produce, sourced on site, alongside carefully curated drinks.
4265 Oio Rd, Ōwhango / thechefstable.co.nz

Cinders has a covered courtyard downstairs serving elaborately conceived snacks and modern European cuisine in its upstairs bistro. Cosy, familiar French, Italian and Catalan inspirations get a modern tweak. All is ethically sourced. Cinderella proves a true modern-day princess.
278 Willis St, Te Aro, Wellington / cinderellawinebar.co.nz

Familiarity breeds contentment in the long-term partnership of owner Kevin Hopgood and head chef Aaron Ballantyne. Everything is taken into account – from sparkling glassware to the gracious oversight of the dining room. Hopgoods always make you feel dining out is something to delight in.
284 Trafalgar St, Nelson / hopgoods.co.nz

They say that things don’t travel very far before you eat them at Sherwood. Indeed, if they can’t forage for it or grow it, they’ll buy it locally. Head chef and co-owner Chris Scott brings thoughtful flavour to this restaurant overlooking Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu that is part of an eco-hotel, yoga and wellness retreat where you really can sit back and reconnect with nature. A big believer in home-grown and zero-waste, he conjures up soul food goodness from Sherwood’s extensive permaculture gardens, orchards and nearby farms. Woodfired flatbreads are a big ticket item (topped with Viavio mozzarella and their own in-season veges). So are the tender and comforting flavours in the main menu, meat included, such as the weepingly tender Te Mana lamb shoulder or rustic Sherwood duck sausage with blueberry, ruby cabbage and lovage. Even the wine list is beautifully, comfortably, local.
554 Frankton Rd, Queenstown / sherwoodqueenstown.nz

Photography Sam Stewart

Atlas bears the weight of many a menu on its shoulders. There’s a tasting menu, a vegetarian version, a lunch à la carte menu and a lunch three-course menu. And many are the options within, the food globally-inspired. James Pask is in charge of the kitchen and under his command everything is made from scratch and in-house – right down to churning his own butter. Atlas proudly claims it is big on predominantly organic produce plus ethically-raised meat.
36 Customhouse Quay, Wellington / atlas-wellington.co.nz

Photography Nicola Edmonds

Craggy Range nails that perfect combination of comfort and luxury, steeped in the kind of tradition that almost compels us to rise to an excellent occasion. An extensive kitchen garden plays into the menu and there’s a globally celebrated winery at its side.
253 Waimarama Rd, Havelock North / craggyrange.com

The legendary Fleur Sullivan’s restaurant is on the jetty, so what you get on the blackboard menu is what’s lifted from the water on the day. Pair it with vegetables from small organic growers from around the region. Drink the region’s finest, too.
69 Haven St, Moeraki / fleursplace.com

Urban wants to make everyone feel like whānau, says owner/chef Daniel Monopoli. No wonder, then, that the menu says don’t be afraid to put your elbows on the table.
278 Hardy St, Nelson / urbaneatery.co.nz

Maybe it has something to do with its former incarnation as a Salvation Army citadel, but the team here takes caring and sharing to the next level. They say their food is made to be enjoyed by all. This is but a hint of what you can expect: a (largely meaty) menu centred around a Mibrasa charcoal oven, premium produce from Roebuck Farm, the house-made gnocchi with blue cheese and black pepper will always be on – all served up in a warm and welcoming space.
40 Powderham St, New Plymouth / social-kitchen.co.nz

Twenty-five years on and the Logan Brown team of Steve Logan and Shaun Clouston is still leader in the pack. Highly regarded throughout the motu, the pair serve up a veritable feast of stylishly contemporary food that focusses on local produce accompanied with a wine list of incomparable quality.
192 Cuba St, Wellington / loganbrown.co.nz

It’s Dunedin. It’s Scottish. And so is chef/owner David Burt – a perfect fit. Come to this classic old villa for a six- or eight-course dégustation with a flight of either wine or whisky to match. Clever concepts and flavours feature: organic fillet of beef comes with house haggis, neep ring and creamy whisky sauce. Smart staff know their stuff.
95 Filleul St, Dunedin Central / brackenrestaurant.co.nz

Under the guiding hands of owners Lisa and Simon Levy, the good genes of Inati’s younger sibling shine. Executive chef Simon adeptly guides a (sustainable) seafood-prominent menu in this bright, chic first-floor bistro, assisted by the talents of head chef Cian Curtin. A drum-roll for desserts. Delicious cocktails and a handsome wine list.
166 Cashel St, Christchurch / hali.nz

Photography Dean Kozanic

Rita is booked out every night, so plan in advance. The food is simple at this set-menu establishment, with the focus on great flavour balance and perfectly seasonal ingredients. Place your trust with implicit confidence in head chef Kelda Hains’ efforts.
89 Aro St, Te Aro, Wellington / rita.co.nz

Kika exudes warmth and welcome – which is what it’s all about. Owner/chef James Stapley regularly changes the menu to marry with the seasons and these plates are made for sharing. A well-assembled wine list widens our smile.
2 Dunmore St, Wanaka / kika.nz

Helen Turnbull cut her teeth on the international stage before settling in the shadow of Kapiti Island. Now chef/owner of the avant-garde 50-50, she unequivocally delivers on her promise to coax nothing but the best from all her ingredients, many of which are locally foraged or sourced. The dishes are classically approachable, albeit with a contemporary twist. An exquisiteness to this Japanese-influenced experience clearly stamps 50-50 as the best in Paraparaumu’s ever-growing dining cluster.
22 MacLean St, Paraparaumu Beach, Kapiti Coast / 50-50.co.nz

Photography by Nicola Edmonds

East often meets west in head chef and owner Sam Gasson’s hands: a combination of French and Japanese cooking is at the heart of his creations. Included in the line-up, depending on the season, is beautifully pink wild Fiordland venison on cabbage purée with fermented tamarillo, crunchy baby carrots and carrot powder. Some unusual boutique producers feature on the small but well-considered drinks list, where a few botrytised wines also make a stand. Local produce influences the constantly evolving menu.
42 Queens Gardens, Dunedin / moiety.restaurant

Passing through parliamentary security adds an extra sense of spesh to a visit here. The cuisine is fresh and modern, showcasing what delights New Zealand produce has to offer. Young head chef Joshua Ross has a firm hand on the tiller; the standard is high indeed.
Level 3, The Beehive, Molesworth St, Pipitea, Wellington / bellamysbyloganbrown.co.nz

Big on warmth and taste and generosity of spirit. Chef/owner Alex Davies vows to cook with the region’s seasons on his daily-changing plant-based and seafood menu, with a focus on fish dinners. Alex trumpets his wines, claiming it’s “New Zealand’s first exclusive natural wine bar” – and they are available by the glass.
5/2 Papanui Rd, Merivale, Christchurch / gatherings.co.nz

A splendid team effort awaits you at Scotch. A quiet energy focusses the young and well-coordinated team unerringly on your dining and wine pleasure. Sit back, we say, and relax right into what is about to unfold within these raw brick walls.
26 Maxwell Rd, Blenheim / scotchbar.co.nz

Photography Richard Briggs

A busy, buzzy Cuba St spot. Head chef Alric Hansen has designed food to share, introducing a mix of Highwater classics and ever-changing seasonal favourites. Drinks are very well matched to the menu, which is largely meat- and fish-based. There are some admirable tweaks to the classics. It says a lot about a place that’s so exciting you’re looking forward to going back even before you’ve finished dessert (in this case meringue, white chocolate and raspberry). Simple, fresh and surprisingly comforting all in one.
54 Cuba St, Wellington / highwatereatery.co.nz

Photography Nicola Edmonds

It’s over three years since Asher Boote, chef/owner of Hillside, announced his restaurant was going entirely meatless. It may have seemed a bold step to the mainstream diner, but for Asher, it was an exciting, easy shift. You can expect cuisine that celebrates vegetables in their own right, not as a mere meat substitute. The menu embraces the joys of a plant-based diet and the natural diversity of Aotearoa.
Currently at 99 Victoria St, Wellington but check hillsidekitchen.co.nz

As the name suggests, Sugo is, well, Italian. Chef Ian Harrison presents a generous menu peppered with pasta (house-made), pizza and a beautiful plant-based twist on some Latin classics. That’s just part of a snazzy line-up. The drinks list offers a cool mix of Italian and local, plus a dedicated spritz bar which provides the perfect kick-starter.
19 Wharf St, Tauranga / sugosugo.co.nz

We love the way head chef Liam Summers creates everything from scratch and his abundance of creativity means some absolute hero dishes. Attentive staff, tasty beverages and a nurturing ambience in this heritage art deco 2011 quake- survivor building complete the brief.

176 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch
/ miro.nz

Photography Charlie Jackson

Owner/chef Simon Levy and his brigade produce elemental sharing plates of seasonal cuisine art here on Hereford. Put your trust in the chef with his dégustation options or pick from the à la carte. They’ll take you from earth (vibrant green asparagus on a foraged nettle purée with a musky mead jelly) to sea (warmed oysters on a savoury custard with verjuice and slivers of guanciale), and a dreamily meaty beyond. Thoughtful, innovative treatment is harmonised with a curated wine list.
48 Hereford St, Christchurch City / inati.nz

This gem of a restaurant in the heart of Taupō is understandably much loved by locals and tourists, too. Owners and operators Jude and Tiffany Messenger have six children and the offspring will often pitch in with the parents. Chef Jude (ex- Huka Lodge) has a wadge of international experience and his love of cooking simple food is enhanced with prodigious use of locally sourced seasonal ingredients treated with care.
17 Tamamutu St, Taupō / thebistro.nz

Whatever prompts your visit, Amayjen will meet your brief. Ultra-fresh produce is prepared with an accuracy and attention to detail that has to be seen to be believed. A perfectly chosen wine list sits alongside. Hosts Andrew and Jenni May will welcome and wow.
17 Victoria Ave, Palmerston North / amayjen.co.nz

Thirty years and climbing, BSB has a reputation that still stands tall. The classics are there, but each is given a touch of terroir that stamps it as uniquely modern and Kiwi/South Pacific. The wine list is difficult to fault; cocktails are first-class.
99 Boulcott St, Wellington Central / boulcottstreetbistro.co.nz

A fire three years ago didn’t kill them, and COVID couldn’t keep them down either. Now Māori Hill’s much-loved local of more than a decade has seasoned pro Greg Piner (Pier 24, Vault 21) at the helm. Owner Katrina Toovey gives him free rein to deliver a flavour-forward menu where ingredients are showcased with great flair.
7 Balmacewen Rd, Māori Hill, Dunedin / no7balmac.co.nz


In alphabetical order.

Alpino, Cambridge
Amayjen, Palmerston North
Amisfield, Queenstown
Amok, Wellington
Aosta, Arrowtown
Arbour, Blenheim
Atlas, Wellington
Bar Yoku, Christchurch
Bellamys by Logan Brown, Wellington
The Bistro, Taupō
Bistronomy, Napier
Black Barn Bistro, Havelock North
Botswana Butchery, Queenstown
Boulcott St Bistro, Wellington
Bracken, Dunedin
Capitol, Wellington
Central Fire Station Bistro, Napier
Charley Noble, Wellington
The Chef’s Table at Blue Duck Station, Ōwhango
Cinderella, Wellington
Clarence Bistro, Tauranga
Craggy Range, Havelock North
Cucina, Oamaru
Dragons, Wellington
Field & Green, Wellington
Fleurs Place, Moeraki
Floriditas, Wellington
Gatherings, Christchurch
Gin Gin, Christchurch
Hali, Christchurch
Harvest, The Marlborough Hotel, Blenheim
Hawker House and Bar, Nelson
Hiakai, Wellington
Highwater Eatery, Wellington
Hillside, Wellington
Hippopotamus, Wellington
Hopgood’s & Co., Nelson
Inati, Christchurch
Jano Bistro, Wellington
Kika, Wanaka
Logan Brown, Wellington
Mapu, Lyttelton
Mary’s, Havelock North
Mason, Wellington
Meat & Liquor Steakhouse, New Plymouth
Mesita, Martinborough
Miro, Christchurch
Mister D, Napier
Moiety, Dunedin
Mr Pickles Bar & Eatery, Hamilton
No 7 Balmac, Dunedin
Ortega Fish Shack, Wellington
Pacifica, Napier
Palate, Hamilton
Prohibition Smokehouse, Dunedin
Rita, Wellington
Riverstone Kitchen, Oamaru
Sage at Paroa Bay, Russell
Salty Pidgin Bar & Bistro, Wellington
Scotch Wine Bar, Blenheim
Shed 5, Wellington
Shepherd, Wellington
Sherwood, Queenstown
Social Kitchen, New Plymouth
Somerset Cottage, Tauranga
State Bistro, New Plymouth
Sugo, Tauranga
Tītī, Dunedin
Urban Eatery Restaurant & Bar, Nelson
Wallingford Restaurant, Wallingford
WBC, Wellington
50-50, Paraparaumu Beach



The complete Cuisine Good Food Guide will be included in the March issue of Cuisine Magazine. On sale 14 February.