Matt Lambert may as well be the de facto ambassador for New Zealand's bountiful cuisine. For a chef raised in a country famous for its rugged terrain and affinity for game, his contemporary cooking is surprisingly subtle and thoughtful. His warm and inviting dining room fits seamlessly into this neighborhood, with a 20-foot walnut timbered bar and exposed brick walls. Sure, the space is rustic, but in a stunning, well-designed way. Service is relaxed yet practiced, which complements the nature of this food. Chef Lambert’s menu shows a mastery of all modern culinary techniques, and the ingredients are sourced both locally—sometimes as near as the restaurant's back garden—as well as from his motherland. Kick things off with impossibly addictive monkey bread with black Maldon sea salt. Next up, Ora king salmon, its richness counterpoised with apple gel and horseradish espuma. Patùànuku (or Mother Nature in Màori tradition) may then unveil quail with luscious blackberry and bread sauce, followed by Canterbury beef Wellington roasted to pink perfection. Sweet fiends won't be sorry after sampling such complex desserts as passion fruit pavlova, presented as a beautiful meringue filled with fruit curd.
- MICHELIN guide inspectors
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