Metro magazine has released its 2011 list of the 50 best restaurants in Auckland and the big feature is the number of new Asian restaurants that make the cut.
“We’re really excited about this development,” says Metro editor Simon Wilson. “Auckland has had many good Japanese, Chinese and other Asian restaurants for a long time, but standards have been pretty static for the last few years. That’s really changing now.”
Wilson names Cocoro and Moochowchow in Ponsonby, Café Hanoi and Ebisu at Britomart, and Faro and Morita in the central city as leaders in the trend.
“The décor is modern and very stylish, the service is efficient, the wine lists are strong, and the food is often breathtakingly good.
“These places feature chefs doing bold new things for Auckland diners. It’s a great step forward for the city.”
Wilson says the Metro Audi Restaurant of the Year Top 50 includes 13 restaurants new to the list.
“Times may be tough,” he says, “but we are very pleased to welcome such additions as Basque Kitchen, a terrific tapas bar in Newmarket, and Poderi Crisci, an Italian winery restaurant in a gorgeous valley on Waiheke.”
Some more established restaurants have also made it onto the list. “Ima in Fort St is currently serving some of the best bistro dinners in town,” says Wilson. “And Harbourside, the fish specialists upstairs in the Ferry Building, are also right on top of their game.”
Wilson says people may be surprised at some of the names that are missing. “If we’d had a Top 60, it would have been a lot easier,” he says. “But with competition as stiff as it is, we kept asking ourselves a simple question: ‘Do we want to come back?’
“You can have a perfectly good meal at many restaurants,” he says, “but you’d be surprised how often you realise you wouldn’t care if you never went there again. When that happens, they tend to get missed off the list.”
And the biggest problems? “Inconsistency and service,” says Wilson. “We do multiple judging at places where we’re not sure and it was quite common to find they were good at cooking some things but not others or that the food might be good but the waitstaff seemed barely trained.”
Restaurants dropped from the 2010 list include Java Room, La Cigale, Monsoon Poon, Q at the Westin, The Mulberry, White and Wine Chambers
New high-profile restaurants that didn’t quite make the list include The Foodstore in the Viaduct, The Refreshment Room in Titirangi, and Eight at the Langham.
“We like Eight’s multiple buffet experience,” says Wilson, “but there are some marvellous examples of this kind of thing overseas, and Eight didn’t quite impress our judges enough.”
“We’ve also dropped some places because recent changes of ownership have stripped them of the very things that made them special: the people who ran them. The upmarket dining room at Mollies in St Mary’s Bay, and Grey Lynn’s wildly popular Mondial both fit that category.”
Last year’s Supreme Winner of the Metro Audi Restaurant of the Year Awards was The Grove, in St Patrick’s Square, Wyndham St.
The 2011 Supreme Winner and other category winners will be revealed in the June issue of Metro, on sale May 31.