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First time in NZ and OZ

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Hi All -

This is a first for me. I came across this forum while doing some surfing for our upcoming trip.

My wife and I will be visiting New Zealand and Australia in November - December. We like to eat WELL! We like ALL cuisines as long as they are WELL prepared. We like to try the local foods and as such often eat local fish. We like lamb which I assume is a must in NZ.

This is our first visit and we need HELP!

Any suggestions for restaurants in the following places - (We know NOTHING about NZ restaurants.)







We have reservations at Claudes and Aria

Considering Pier at Rose Bay and/or Wildfire


We have a reservation at Flower Drum


Would also appreciate comments on the places we have already reserved. This far ahead, they could always be changed.

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Here's a list of some decent places in Adelaide:

T-Chow just off Gouger Street on Moonta Street. One of the most unassuming places you'll find in the city. My wife and I walked past it a million times before deciding to try it. It's authentic Chinese with a printed menu and specials written in both Chinese and English, written on butcher's paper on the wall. Atmosphere isn't 5 star but the food is great. Our favourites here are the wontons, scallops on the halfshell with garlic, salt and pepper squid and the T-Chow fried rice. A good and decently priced wine list. Cost for 2 with wine usually about $90AUD

Gaucho's right on Gouger Street. This is a meat lovers paradise. Great staff and a really great atmosphere. The food is Argentinian thus explaining all the meat. Favourites here include chargrilled fillet steak, fresh mussels, baby rabbit, and if you go in a group their seafood platter -crab, mussels, oysters, barramundi, yabbies is stunning!!!!! Cost for 2 with wine about $120AUD

Star of Siam again on Gouger Street. As you may have guessed it's Thai. I haven't been for a number of years but from all reports things haven't changed. The food is good, wine list very good and the staff friendly without being a pain in the ass My favourite was always the Thai prawn salad... spicy with just the right kick of lime mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Sorry I can't help you with prices on this one.

Matsuri right at the end of Gouger Street (West Tce end). Japanese with everything ranging from a sushi bar, to tables, to a Japanese section. This restaurant crossed the whole section of Japanese cuisine, sushi, sukiyaki, shabu shabu etc etc etc. They alos have a great wine list and sake list. The sakes range all the way from Japanese sakes to Australian sakes which have just started being produced in Queensland. Price for 2 with wine, sake, a couple of sapporo is usually about $120AUD.

Hopefully some of these will help you on your trip to our beautiful city.



PS If you need anymore help just PM me

Edited by StInGeR (log)

I want food and I want it now

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For Melbourne, I can highly recommend Vue De Monde. You can click onto their website at www.vuedemonde.com.au

Other favourites include Ezards (I hate the term, but it's fusion food), France Soir (French brasserie style food), Abla's (Lebanese) and Moreton's Brasserie (French).

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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In Melbourne I can recommend (I've been to all of these; some are more cafe than restaurant. Melb has excellent cafes!):

Mecca, meccabah, livebait (http://www.mecca.net.au/)

Momo (http://www.momorestaurant.com.au)

Chocolate Buddha (http://www.chocolatebuddha.com.au/)

EQ (http://www.eqcafebar.com.au)

Nudel Bar (76 Bourke St, Melbourne; phone: (03) 9662-9100)

Hairy Canary (www.hairycanary.com.au)

Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder (http://www.rhcl.com.au/)

There are plenty of restaurants I haven't been to. My source for reviews is The Age daily newspaper. Every Wednesday they have my fave insert called "Epicure" (http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/epicure/).

I've heard great reviews about:

Pearl (http://www.pearlrestaurant.com.au/)

Botanical (http://www.thebotanical.com.au/)

Reserve (http://www.federationsquare.com.au/2003/whats_at/whats_at_detail.asp?category=1&id=28)

In Sydney I've been dying to go to Tetsuya's for years (http://sydney.citysearch.com.au/profile?id=20230068). Finally will be going in August.

Let me know if you have any questions, I'd be happy to help.

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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I agree with arbuclo on Mecca and MoMo. If you go to Mecca, try and get a table next to the windows...you get a great view of Melbourne over the river.

I'm not that sold on Nudel Bar though. I reckon you can get Asian noodles that are just as good, but a lot cheaper, from various places around town.

On Pearl, I went there a couple of weeks ago with my partner. The food was very, very good. People call it Australian food with an Asian bent, but I saw it as being the other way around. The key difference between what Pearl does and what you can get a couple of tramrides away in Victoria Street and/or Little Bourke Street is the quality of the ingredients they use. To my mind, if you had a year in Melbourne, you would go. But if you're only here for a few weeks, there are probably other restaurants that I would recommend ahead of Pearl.

My source for reviews is The Age daily newspaper.  Every Wednesday they have my fave insert called "Epicure" (http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/epicure/).

Epicure comes with the Age on Tuesday, not Wednesday.

Edited by Shinboners (log)
Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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In Sydney I would recommend Pier over Wildfire. Pier has amazing local seafood. Wildfire is more a place for a party night as opposed to being somewhere you go especially for the food. Claude's is wonderful as is Tetsuya's. Another restaurant that I haven't been to but I have heard very good things about is Est. If you enjoy real Thai food you should definitely try Sailors Thai.

In Adelaide you should definitely try The Grange - Saturday would be best for the degustation menu.

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Thanks all for your posts. I think we're pretty well settled for the Australia portion of our trip. In Sydney we're going to Claude's, Aria, Wildfire and Pier. In Melbourne we'll be going to Flower Drum and Da Noi. In Adelaide probably the Grange.

Still need a lot of help with New Zealand. Looking for the good places in Rotorua, Nelson and Queenstown.

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Rotorua and Queenstown *will* have good restaurants - the biggest tourist hotels are located there, which means some good chefs move out of the hotels into start-ups or existing restaurants in the town - especially in Queenstown.

However, I have been away too long to know what's what. Ask at your hotel (especially if it's a big hotel) about the latest and greatest. Otherwise, if you are prepared to book ahead and spend money, consider having dinner at one of the "Lodges" or upmarket, small, private hotels with extensive grounds, usually secluded in areas well out of town.

In Nelson, consider dining at one of the wineries - and ask for recommendations, some offer fine dining, others just a quick bite. Again, sorry I can't tell you which to head for. Nelson is a very popular area with NZers, especially the well-off from Christchurch or Wellington, so I'm sure you can find something nice to eat there. It also has a number of art/culture activities, such as music festivals, so I'd expect to find a small but varied range of restaurants.

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For Queenstown - get a cab ride to Arrowtown one evening (it's not far - 20 mins?) and go to Saffron. We were there on our honeymoon in November and it was superb. Fantastic food and service and an awesome wine list. We were in Queenstown 3 nights and ate well but this was by far the best. Can't recommend highly enough.

I'd also recommend switching one of your Sydney restaurants for Tetsuya. Again we were there in November - third visit - and it was outstanding. Rockpool was great as well and is still going string altho the Tets experience was the best - am sure you can't go wrong with the ones you've got though.

Have fun!

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Thanks Helen and Romaney.

Saffron looks great. We'll defintely get there for one dinner.

I've started looking at the wineries around Nelson. Do you have any specific recommendations? I know when we visited Sonoma and Napa valleys we found some fabulous restaurants. It had never occurred to me that the same might be true in NZ. Great idea.

I'd still like to get some ideas for CC and Rotorua. If you think of something, please pass it on.

Romaney - I've seen lots of raves about Tets. I've also seen a number of comments that it's not worth the BIG bucks. I think that we'll probably pass on Tets although between now and December (When we'll be in Sydney.) I might change my mind.

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Sorry, whenever I've been in Nelson, I've been working and not seen the town for myself...and since I haven't been there for nearly 20 years...

Arrowtown - sounds good, but I hear the small restaurants there fill up quickly, so if you have a hotel picked out, you might ask them to book you into a good Arrowtown restaurant?

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We didn't actually stay in Nelson but we stayed in Blenheim at a place called the Hotel D'urville. Here's the website - am not very techy so sorry if it doesn't work

Hotel D'urville

Anyway - It really was fantastic. They have this thing called the cook's discovery tour. They will tailor it to what you want as well We spent a day touring around the area - we visited a winery, an olive grove, a crayfish and salmon farm - they were all organic and the head chef from the restaurant, Gary Clark came with us. He previously cooked for Conran over here in London. We chatted with all the producers and learned about production and the area, sampled their goods and also enjoyed a fantastic picnic lunch with fresh local produce, wine and cheeses. We also collected ingredients for the evening as we went.

Gary spent the entire evening with us in a purpose built kitchen and produced a 6 course degustation as a cooking demonstration (which was our dinner) - I can dig out the menu if you are interested - top food. The sommelier was also in and out between the kitchen and the restaurant and matched all our wines. It was such a great experience. The produce over there is of such a high quality and having the chef to ourselves was great fun.

We didn't get a lot more time to tour more than a few wineries and didn't dine at any but if you fancy a special day you should perhaps consider doing what we did.

Was also a really nice hotel.

You can email Saffron to make a booking - I did well in advance and it wasn't a problem - they were actually expecting us when we arrived and remembered we were from London and on honeymoon which was such a nice touch.

Regarding Tetsuya - understandable about the mixed reviews - however I disagree about the big bucks thing. I have visited Gordon Ramsay RHR and various other top restaurants over here in the last few years and I think it is comparable to at least a two M star experience. Hope you change your mind as I'd be surprised if you'd regret it. Depends on what you are after in a dining experience I suppose. Don't think you can go too far wrong with food in Sydney regardless of what you decide - I am very envious! :wink:

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Romaney - I contacted the Hotel d'Urville because of your raves about their Cook's Discovery Tour. That sounded like something we would really enjoy. :smile:

Apparentyly they have stopped doing the Discovery Tour. :sad:

I did make a reservation at Saffron. In the Queenstown area, I also made a reservation at Gantley's. http://www.gantleys.co.nz/ Have you heard anything about them?

Made reservations at Pescatore in CC - http://www.thegeorge.com/Pescatore/default.asp Have you eaten there? Heard anything about them? That's the only place we have found so far in CC.

Thanks for all your help.

BTW we lived in London for a year. However that was in 1958. LOVED IT! :wub:

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Hi craftman - have to say I am so envious of your pending trip! I love London but going home to Sydney and visiting Melbourne makes me hopelessly homesick.

We actually stayed at the George - to be honest I though it was really overpriced for accommodation. However we didn't eat at the restaurant and I have heard it is excellent. We did ask a few people and they all said it was top notch - unfortunately we were exhausted and fancied a pizza! (which was fantastic incidentally).

Again we didn't visit Gantley's but we stayed at a hotel called Mountvista which was lovely and they recommended that restaurant - I had already booked Saffron though so we didn't get there.

There's a place in Nelson called the Mussel Boys or something - anyone? It was great - fabulous fresh green lipped mussles prepared to order. Tables outside - delicious and recommend it. Also along the coast around Kaikoura is fabulous lobster so I recommend going to a cafe at one of the main bays and ordering a whole one if you are in the area - not sure what the season is though so would have to check.

Just a couple of hopefully constructive comments. Feel free to jump on me all you new zealanders but this is not meant to a dig or patronising in any way. We only visited the South Island.

New Zealand is not cheap and the upper end dining is the same price range as Sydney so don't go expecting a bargain. I think fine dining is still well and truly developing there and it's important to go with an open mind. In my humble opinion, with the exception of Saffron, even the best places were not of the same standard as Sydney or Melbourne but they were in the same price range. I am not suggesting for a second you don't book into the high end places just make sure you go with the right expectations.

It may sound obvious but I would go for dishes using local produce every time and I would enjoy the sometimes more informal nature of the service. Make the most of the cheap places as well (like mussel boys) as they will sometimes be a better food experience because of the produce - ie they specialise in one thing and don't tamper with it. The best thing is you'll be supporting the industry and they have such a fantastic dining scene over there with so much potential it is nice to be part of it as a tourist. Their produce is second to none and I am not surprised lots of chefs move from the big cities to live and work there. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Promise you'll report back in detail :biggrin:

Edited by Romaney O'Malley (log)
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craftman - Forgot to mention one more thing about Queenstown.

There is a bar at Eichardt's Hotel down next to the water. We went one evening before dinner and it was such a lovely place. Very swanky, great service and fabulous cocktails.

I'll be in Melbourne in November as well so will report back on our eating experiences when we return.

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