NZ's Best Restaurants Announced for 2016

Critically acclaimed Auckland restaurant The French Café has been named Cuisine magazine’s Restaurant of the Year 2016, for consistently offering a world-class menu, along with a flawless and superb dining experience.

Winners of the prestigious Cuisine New Zealand Good Food Awards – presented by Vittoria Coffee – were announced last night at an awards evening at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, attended by the restaurant industry’s best. The awards are New Zealand’s only national restaurant accolades.

Judges say 17 years after The French Café was revamped by new owners Simon Wright and Creghan Molloy-Wright, the restaurant is still at the top of its game, setting the bar for the rest of the country. As well as taking the top title, The French Café also won Sanpellegrino Best Metropolitan Restaurant. Christchurch’s Pescatore was named runner-up in this category.

Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards’ lead judge Kerry Tyack commented that The French Café has consistently remained of international class.

“The restaurant has impeccable style, consistency and refined and expertly thought-out dining in all respects. The French Café guest feels truly and genuinely special and the restaurant is a beacon of quality for others to emulate,” says Tyack.     

Cuisine magazine editor Kelli Brett congratulates all the winning and contending restaurants.

“New Zealand's food story is evolving.  It’s such an exciting time as chefs and restaurants work to establish an identity that will showcase the incredible ingredients we have here. Congratulations to each and every restaurant and chef on the Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards winners’ list. This year we have awarded more hats than ever before, which indicates the steady growth of our restaurant industry,” says Brett.

Sid Sahrawat, the creative craftsman behind the menus at Auckland restaurant Sidart and its modern Indian sibling Cassia, was awarded the Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year. Judges commended Sid for truly mastering the art form of degustation with his textural dishes and perfectly balanced flavour. Sidart was previously crowned Sanpellegrino Best Metropolitan Restaurant at last year’s awards.

Neat Meat Best New Metropolitan Restaurant was awarded to Auckland’s Phil’s Kitchen, after it quickly gained a reputation for excellence in all aspects of the dining experience since opening in April last year. Wellington’s Field & Green was named runner-up. 

Pacifica in Napier was named Best Regional Restaurant, with the judges praising chef-owner Jeremy Rameka’s artistry and passion and the front-of-house team’s professionalism. Hamilton’s Victoria Street Bistro was named runner-up. 

Napier’s inventive restaurant Bistronomy, opened by talented chef-owner James Beck last year, won the Neighbourly Best New Regional Restaurant Award. The judges were impressed by Beck’s creativity and delivery. 

Auckland’s elegant Japanese restaurant Cocoro was named Monteith’s Best Specialist Restaurant, with judges commending it for delivering the highest standards of food, beverage and service. Sid Sahrawat’s modern Indian restaurant Cassia was named runner-up. 

Wellington’s The Larder maître d’ Sarah Bullock was named Kenwood Restaurant Personality of the Year. The judges praised Bullock for enthusiastically embodying the concept of service by understanding the importance of hospitality and the ways it can positively enhance a dining experience. 

The Ōra King Salmon Innovation Award was won by Tom Hishon of Auckland’s Orphans Kitchen. The judges praised Hishon’s innovation and passion for exploring new ways to use and combine ingredients and techniques. 

North Canterbury’s serene Pegasus Bay took out the Whitestone Cheese Best Winery Restaurant award for the second year, with Queenstown’s Amisfield runner-up. 

Negociants New Zealand Best Wine Experience has been awarded to Auckland’s Apero and Wellington’s Charley Noble was named the Opawa Wine Best Drinks List winner. 

For full profiles of the winners and other top restaurants listed in the Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards 2016, go to or get the Cuisine Good Food Guide 2016 free with the September issue of Cuisine, on sale 15 August 2016.