New Zealander Matt Lambert appears to be on a mission to debunk some stereotypes and defy a few expectations about his homeland. For a chef who was raised in a country famous for its rugged terrain and affinity for game, his contemporary cuisine is surprisingly subtle and thoughtful. His warm and inviting room fits seamlessly into this neighborhood, featuring a 20-foot walnut timbered bar and lime-washed, exposed brick walls. Sure, the space is rustic, but in a stunning, well-designed way. Service is relaxed but practiced and informed, which complements the nature of the menu. Lambert's cuisine shows a mastery of all the modern culinary techniques, and his ingredients are sourced locally-sometimes as near as the restaurant's back garden. Kick things off with the impossibly addictive monkey bread sprinkled with black Maldon sea salt and served with homemade Finger Lakes butter. Next up, tender mackerel paired with celery ribbons, pear and jalapeño; or smoked Hudson Valley foie gras coupled with beet and Manuka honey cake. Regulars know to save room for such stellar desserts as the passion fruit pavlova, which is presented as a beautiful meringue filled with passion fruit curd.
- MICHELIN guide inspectors