Auckland's best restaurant revealed: Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year 2019by Metro
Ed Verner's Pasture takes the Supreme Award for his intimate six-seater Parnell restaurant, as well as winning Best Chef in the 2019 Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year awards.
The honour was announced on Monday night in front of an audience of Auckland’s most successful restaurant owners, Mayor Phil Goff and other distinguished guests at the annual red-carpet awards dinner at the Auckland Town Hall.
The annual Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year Awards celebrate the excellence of Auckland’s dining scene. The panel considered more than 100 contenders, refining the list to 50 after months of deliberation. Judges visited restaurants anonymously and paid for their own meals.
The Top 50 finalists, announced in early April, were considered for category awards as well as the Supreme Winner award, which was decided by international executive judge Pat Nourse.
This year was the first in years that an international executive judge was enlisted to help with the awards' judging. Nourse, as the creative director of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and chair of the voting panel for Oceania region for World’s 50 Best Restaurants is exceptionally qualified for the role. He was also an editor for Gourmet Traveller for 14 years and edited the magazine’s restaurant guide.
Pasture was the night's big winner, also nabbing the best Fine-Dining category, Best Dish for their Aged New Zealand Wagyu & AC/DC, and runner-up for Best Drinks.
“What the restaurant lacks in size, it makes up for in ambience, detail, and experimentation,” said Metro editor, Henry Oliver. “We set out to find not just Auckland’s best food, but its best dining experience and Pasture gave us one we’d never had before, pushing the limits of what a night at a restaurant can be.
“Six guests are seated at a bar and see their dishes cooked right in front of them by a small team of chefs who take care of the entire experience, pouring wine, mixing cocktails, clearing plates and guiding you through the evening. Each dish as surprising and innovative as the last, with chef Ed Verner combining traditional methods of fermentation with modern techniques and a relentless dedication to quality ingredients.”
Meanwhile, Supreme Award runner-up Cazador took home the award for Best Neighbourhood Restaurant. It was the Mt Eden restaurant's second year in a row to come runner up in the Supreme Award category. Cazador’s strong story of family ownership across two generations appealed to Nourse, along with its nose-to-tail eating ethos and often strange culinary mash-ups.
“Cazador is like nothing else I’ve seen anywhere, really — an incredible mix of wild flavours, sharp ideas and careful cooking, from the preserved lemon that sparks up smoked-mussel pâté on flatbread to the tahini binding seared poussin hearts and boar bacon in a thicket of parsley,” Nourse said.
In a new category for 2019, Amano won the Best All-day Restaurant award, which recognises the distinct challenges of opening a restaurant for three meals a day. Head chef Jo Pearson also came runner-up for the Best Chef award.
Apéro won Best Casual Restaurant and was runner-up for Best Service, which was won by Baduzzi.
Restaurant Personality of the Year went to Hiro Kawahara, sommelier at Sid at The French Café, known for his impeccable taste and unsurpassed knowledge of fine wines.
For the second year in a row, last year's Supreme Award winners Sid and Chand Sahrawat jointly won the Restauranteur of the Year award, with their restaurant Cassia also winning Best Smart Restaurant.
Three Seven Two is one to watch, winning Best New and Best Destination restaurant with their offering on Waiheke Island which opened late last year.
Peugeot proudly sponsored the awards for the fifth year in a row, running the special Peugeot People’s Choice Award recognising Aucklander’s favourite dish as voted by Metro readers. This year Saan’s crispy soft shell crab has won the hearts of Auckland diners.
Metro food director Simon Farrell Green said of this year's awards: “We were very impressed by the overall standard not just of the category winners but all of the restaurants which made the Top 50 list. Once again, they’ve done their city proud.” To read more about what makes a Supreme Winner, read Farrell-Green's piece here.
This article was first published on Metromag.co.nz.
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