5 Destination Restaurants
Make a getaway out of it and visit these eateries over the holiday break
The Archive, Waiheke Island
A glass of chardonnay, a table on the terrace, good friends, a view over olive trees, lavender, and vines to the sparkling sea . . . There’s no better place on Waiheke to watch the sun set than at the The Archive. Based around an artwork by island artist Denis O’Connor, this recently opened bar and bistro sits alongside Mudbrick Vineyard’s cellar door and fine-dining restaurant, and offers a more relaxed environment — although the food and service is just as first class. There are plates to share, such as the freshly baked focaccia bread and lavosh served with whipped feta and babaganoush ($14), or the chicken liver parfait with warm brioche, Pedro Ximenez jelly and prunes ($16). Or you can indulge in the main menu, which includes the perfectly executed Silver Fern Farms beef short rib with fennel and celeriac remoulade, radish, celeriac puree and salsa verde ($38), and desserts such as buffalo yoghurt panna cotta with pistachio biscotti, rhubarb and strawberry ($15).
Church Bay Rd, Oneroa, Waiheke
The Grille by Eichardt’s, Queenstown
In a prime lakefront position, Queenstown’s newly opened The Grille by Eichardt’s is undoubtedly the resort town’s top table. Emphasising locally sourced food, from Fiordland crayfish to Cardrona lamb and another carnivore’s delight in the tomahawk steak ($10/100g), you’ll soon work up an appetite for enjoying the great outdoors. The epic, chargrilled cut of juicy, grain-fed Angus rib-eye and the rib itself ($47), is designed to share. Like much of the food, it is served on wood cuts or flat stones to reinforce the sense of being part of the spectacular natural surrounds.
9 Marine Parade, Queenstown
The Dune, Mangawhai
The locals are thrilled and so will all those who head north to Mangawhai this summer. The Smashed Pipi has new owners (the people behind the popular The Cove at nearby Waipu Cove) a new look, a new name and a delicious new menu. Now known as The Dune, the eatery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The majority of the menu is freshly sourced from their own farm and gardens, think slow-cooked lamb with North African smoky spices, and refreshing salads, including the scrummy combo of radish, fennel and asparagus. This place will be buzzing over the next few months, so be sure to book.
40 Moir St, Mangawhai
Waihi Beach Hotel Eatery
The bistro in this iconic beach pub has been part of the Hip Group stable of excellent eateries for a couple of years now, serving up meals from 7am until late, seven days a week. The food philosophy is based on seasonal and sustainable produce from local growers and farmers, such as Bill from Katikati who supplies the lemons, or Susie from Athenree keeping the chefs stocked with feijoas and chestnuts. Though the vibe is relaxed, the menu is up to the Hip Group’s usual high standards: think agria gnocchi with grilled asparagus, kale, lemon butter and ricotta ($26) and Katikati lamb shoulder with eggplant, lentils and sherry vinaigrette ($28).
60 Wilson Rd, Waihi Beach
The Social Kitchen, New Plymouth
This very cool Taranaki eatery is very meat-centric — “Meat Dreams Are Made of These” states the home page of its website, taxidermy decorates the walls and carcasses are on display in a lit cabinet — but there are plenty of options for vegetarians too. Located in the former Salvation Army Citadel, you’ll find communal tables, sharing plates, an excellent wine list, open kitchen, courtyard and a great vibe. The award for most dramatic dish goes to the flaming Zany Zeus halloumi with lemon, thyme, Ouzo and toasted ciabatta ($18.90), and do yourself a favour by ordering a serve of the 12-hour spiced Central Otago wild goat, which comes with Zany Zeus Greek yoghurt and pomegranate ($41.90).
40 Powderham St, New Plymouth