The Grill named NZ's best restaurant

03:06, Aug 07 2012
AWARD-WINNING: Sean Connolly at his winning restaurant, Auckland's The Grill.

An Auckland restaurant with an "unpretentious" menu has taken the top trophy in Cuisine magazine's 2012 Restaurant of the Year Awards.

The Grill, a high-end steakhouse opened by Sydney-based chef Sean Connolly in 2011, was named Restaurant of the Year at a ceremony in Auckland last night.

Head judge Kerry Tyack said The Grill stood out in a competitive field of world-class eateries.

"The Grill has a clear focus on top-quality ingredients, all impeccably prepared. And Sean Connolly's unpretentious menu is delightfully complemented by the restaurant's attentive, well trained staff," he said.

The Grill, which wowed judges with dishes such as crumbed duck egg with jamon and creamed spinach, sirloin aged on the bone with Ortiz anchovy butter, and duck-fat chips, also won the award for Best New Restaurant.

Cuisine editor Sarah Nicholson said The Grill's success showed that the local restaurant scene continues to evolve.

 "We're happy that a new restaurant has taken out the Restaurant of the Year title," she said.

"The Grill achieves elegance without formality, and has a global polish that allows it to shine on the world stage. Plus the food is downright delicious. It really offers a consistently excellent experience."

Auckland chef Tony Astle was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award, celebrating his 40 years at restaurant Antoines. Astle arrived in his chef's uniform and quickly ducked back to work after accepting the award, saying he had left the apprentice in the kitchen.

Wellington seafood restaurant Martin Bosley's won the Best Specialist Restaurant award. Tyack praised the restaurant's commitment to sourcing sustainable seafood.

"This is the place to enjoy some of the freshest fish and seafood in the country, and we applaud Martin's commitment to sourcing only the very best," he said.

Hamilton restaurant Palate took the Best Regional Restaurant title and Auckland's The Grove was named Best Metropolitan Restaurant.

Whangarei chef Brenton Low was named Best Chef and his restaurant, A Deco, was runner-up Best Regional Restaurant.

Cuisine NZ Restaurant of the Year 2012

Supreme Winner: The Grill, Auckland

Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year: Brenton Lowe, à Deco
Honourable mentions: Sean Marshall, Roxy and Hayden McMillan, Tribeca

San Pellegrino Best Metropolitan Restaurant: The Grove, Auckland
Runner-Up: The French Café, Auckland

Monteith's Brewing Co Best Regional Restaurant: Palate, Hamilton
Runner-Up: à Deco, Whangarei

Electrolux Best New Restaurant: The Grill by Sean Connolly, Auckland
Runners-up: Depot, Auckland and Roxy, Auckland

Plumm Glassware Best Specialist Restaurant: Martin Bosley's, Wellington
Runner-Up: Cocoro, Auckland

Whitestone Cheese Best Winery Restaurant: Pegasus Bay Winery Restaurant
Runner-Up: Terroir at Craggy Range

Villa Maria Estate Personalities of the Year: Melissa Morrow and Blair Russell,
Ponsonby Road Bistro