In a class all of its own:
- Hiakai – 40 Wallace Street. A degustation journey by a smart young chef showcasing NZ native herbs and traditional dishes done in modern contemporary ways. Superb service and story-telling equal to experiences I’ve had in the world’s top 20 restaurants. Book weeks ahead, with maximum groups of 6pax.
Get dressed up:
- Hippopotamus at the Museum Hotel – French dining amidst opulent art scattered throughout the hotel and views over the harbour. Perfect spot for dinner on Guy Fawkes night.
- Whitebait at Clyde Quay – Quality eats from the Whitehouse family, in a more ‘Auckland’ waterfront bistro setting. Degustation only menus. 2015 Cuisine NZ best new restaurant.
- Bellamy’s by Logan Brown – inside Parliament. Book 24-hours prior to get names onto the security entry to the Beehive. Fine food showcasing local ingredients (regularly foraged by the staff) in contemporary ways. Very unique experience.
Slightly more ‘bistro’ but could still get dressed up:
- Logan Brown – cnr Cuba and Vivian. Also high quality eats in a beautiful old bank building where the focus is on palate over garnish. Paua ravioli signature dish. Check out the fish tank in the bar.
- Jardin Grill – in the Sofitel Hotel, Bolton Street. Lovely plant-based decor and pleasing international food from a chef with Wellington experience.
- Jano Bistro 270 Willis Street. A marriage of bistro, gastronomy and alchemy by the French Pierra-Alain Fenoux, 2015 Cuisine NZ runner up best new restaurant, and 2016 Wellington on a Plate winning festival dish. Smart food in a cute old villa.
Not quite fine dining, but a fine setting:
- Shed 5 – white table cloths and a slightly formal feel in an old wool store on the waterfront at Queens Wharf. Specialise in seafood with their own fishmonger and filleting room, and have managed their pricing well.