The definition of fine dining has progressed from exotic ingredients flown in fresh and handled by a full kitchen of chefs, to focusing on the care and attention of creating a multi-layered experience. From the design of the space, the ingredient source and polished service, customers can enjoy discovering new ingredients and learning about the people and environments that created what’s on their plate.
Here are some of our favourite New Zealand fine dining locations.
High up on Rakiura Stewart Island, Church Hill Restaurant enjoys views of the bay and outer islands. Stewart Island is famous for its seafood which the restaurant makes delicious use of. This is definitely something to look forward to after winter, when the restaurant reopens in October.
Central Otago’s Amisfield Restaurant chefs Vaughan Mabee and Matthieu Lagarde define Aotearoa cuisine with their menu made from produce sourced by fishers, hunters and foragers within a 250km radius. The restaurant also has its own dry-age room for ageing, among other things, Spanish-style hams for several years.
Hiakai chef Monique Fiso is creating a story with Maori cuisine. Each menu is the result of deep research into traditional ingredients and endless trialling of techniques to make each dish glow under the warm light of the table lamps. Each dish also tells a story, which the staff explain.
In a historic Art Deco building in Hawke’s Bay, upmarket bistro Central Fire Station impresses everyone with its constantly evolving menu and locavore wine list.
The Main’s Peppers on the Point features a daily four-course table d’hote dinner in an incredible 1930’s mansion, preceded by drinks and canapes by the fire, or go for a stroll around the estate grounds to enjoy the lake views.
New Plymouth’s Meat & Liquor is simple and to the point. Carefully selected proteins are prepared with care, and drinks are finely curated. Sometimes they’re combined, like the whiskey-aged scotch fillet.
Tucked into the heart of Hamilton city, Palate is the epitome of charm and intimate dining. Perfect for seasoned meat-lovers, proprietor Matt McLean creates the best with his carefully sourced proteins.
At Clarence Bistro in Tauranga’s historical Clarence Hotel, enjoy the Kitchen Experience with themed Earth, Sea, Pasture, Creamery and Heaven courses.
The team at Auckland’s Sid at the French Café work hard to create a memorable experience for all guests. With sustainability at heart, the kitchen utilises onsite beehives and herb gardens, as well as OSB gardens across the road. As well as set menus, the kitchen can create bespoke menus upon request.
A culinary journey, Māha is nestled in the subtropical gardens of Kerikeri, with a menu designed from owner-operator Ming Poon’s travels from China, to Spain, to New Zealand.