The 50 eateries are all in the running for the Metro Restaurant of the Year 2015, to be announced at an awards dinner on April 20.
Metro editor Simon Wilson says the magazine’s list highlights four big trends in Auckland dining.
“The continued rise of shared dining is in evidence at many places where ‘dishes to share’ are prominent on the menu,” Wilson says. “The communal nature of dining is being strongly reinforced, and that feels like a good thing.”
The second trend is entrepreneurship; Wilson says while SkyCity has the highest profile for its expansion along Federal St, several of Auckland’s other leading restaurateurs are also branching out.
“Mark Wallbank and chef Che Barrington have recreated their very successful formula of smartly presented Asian-inspired food in exciting surroundings at Woodpecker Hill. Sid Sahrawat now also has the extremely cool ‘modern Indian’ restaurant Cassia, in Fort Lane. In the past few months Mark Keddell has opened both Matterhorn in Freemans Bay and The White Rabbit on Customs St near Britomart.”
Wilson says there’s a third trend he’s not so happy about: a growing gap between the best service and the rest.
“Put simply, there are now many more good chefs and otherwise good restaurants that are let down by poor service. Very often, the reason an established name has lost its place on our list is the service.”
Wilson’s fourth point is that it’s getting tough to stay on top in the suburbs.
“On our judging list of 81, we had 13 neighbourhood restaurants. But only six of them made the cut. The others are good – and our judges invariably said they were happy to eat in them – but they’re not good enough for Top 50 status.”
Returning favourites that failed to make the cut the previous year are Café Hanoi in Britomart, Mt Eden’s Molten and perennial Ponsonby bistro Prego.
The nine new restaurants gracing this year’s Metro Top 50 include successful restaurateur Sid Sahrawat’s new establishment Cassia and Toto offshoot Farina in Ponsonby.
Matterhorn, the Auckland sibling of the successful Wellington restaurant of the same name is also included, as are Odettes in City Works Depot and Pilkingtons in the city.
Completing the new nine are Grey Lynn’s Siostra, The White Rabbit in the former Crown pub in the city and Parnell newcomer Woodpecker Hill. Gusto at The Grand is a first time finalist after missing the cut in 2014.
The Metro Magazine Top 50 Restaurants of the Year 2015
Gusto at the Grand
Masu by Nic Watt
O’Connell St Bistro
Ponsonby Rd Bistro
The Blue Breeze Inn
The Engine Room
The French Café
The Oyster Inn
The Shed, Te Motu
The Sugar Club
The White Rabbit