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Cuisine crowns NZ’s best restaurants

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Cuisine crowns NZ’s best restaurants

Diners in New Zealand are being treated to the finest food they have ever had, according to Kerry Tyack, head judge of this year’s Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards.

The French Café in Auckland is the 2013 Cuisine Restaurant of the Year (as well as the SanPellegrino Best Metropolitan Restaurant). It’s also one of only two restaurants to receive the maximum of three chef’s hats under the new rating system, which adopts the hats and scores out of 20, as used by the renowned Good Food Guides in Australia.

"The French Café could certainly hold its own on the international stage - dining there is a consistently excellent experience that’s inspiring and entertaining," says Cuisine editor, Sarah Nicholson.

This is the ninth year of the awards (previously known as the Cuisine NZ Restaurant of the Year Awards), which are New Zealand’s only national restaurant awards.

Clooney, also in Auckland, is the only other restaurant to be awarded three chef’s hats, with head chef Des Harris also taking out the Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year award.

"Des Harris is nailing it. Yes, his food is intelligent and expertly composed, but most importantly, it is absolutely delicious," says Nicholson.

Tyack said the judges were pleased to note that throughout the country, New Zealand’s dining scene is continuing to evolve and strengthen.

"The connection between wine lists and menus is growing stronger, while the continuing recognition of the value of locally sourced produce is hugely positive," he says.

"The ongoing development of great food and service in provincial centres is a highlight - our two best regional restaurants are both first-time award winners," says Nicholson of Hamilton’s Victoria Street Bistro - European Foods Best Regional Restaurant - and the runner-up, Queenstown’s Rata.

Auckland restaurant Kazuya claimed the title of Electrolux Best New Restaurant. In addition to the excellent cuisine from chef-owner Kazuya Yamauchi, the judges commented that they loved the entertaining and engaging service. The runner-up is Napier’s Mister D, which the judges felt had brought a new sense of relaxed dining to Hawke’s Bay.

Plumm Glassware Best Specialist Restaurant is French eatery Hippopotamus in Wellington and the Whitestone Cheese Best Winery Restaurant is Central Otago’s picturesque Amisfield Bistro, with Black Barn Bistro in Havelock North the runner-up.

This year’s Villa Maria Estate Restaurant Personality of the Year is Al Brown.

"Al Brown has a knack for gauging exactly what we want to eat and drink right now," says Nicholson, noting his Auckland restaurant Depot has set many of the most recent dining trends in New Zealand, including the joys of wine on tap, sliders, lamb ribs and freshly shucked clams.

For further details on all the winners and other top restaurants across New Zealand, check out the Cuisine NZ Good Food Guide - free with the July issue of Cuisine, on sale 24 June. For more information on the awards go to or pick up a copy of the magazine.

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