French Cafe regains top spot
A stretch of road away from the trendy eateries of the Ponsonby strip and the CBD is showing that fine dining is still very much on the menu for Auckland foodies.
Symonds St restaurant and Auckland institution The French Cafe regained its place as the city’s best restaurant taking out the supreme award at the Metro Emirates Restaurant of the Year Awards on April 22.
The restaurant was also judged as the best fine dining establishment as well as the one with the best service, while co-owner Simon Wright was named best chef.
It is the fifth time The French Cafe has taken out the top honour of best restaurant at the awards.
Best new restaurant was awarded to fine dining eatery Kazuya, also on Symonds St, with its European-Japanese fusion menu.
Mr Wright says winning the supreme award again is special.
‘‘Obviously winning it the first time is always amazing but sometimes when you’ve been in the business a long time you feel like you’re sort of old news.’’
It was the first time the Englishborn restaurateur has taken home the best chef award.
‘‘It’s the whole team of people in the kitchen who make you the best chef. It’s easy to be a good cook because you can do it by yourself, but not a chef.’’ And their recipe for success? ‘‘Consistency. It really does count. People are always going to go for the new and the exciting but they always come back.’’
Mr Wright and his wife and res- taurant manager Creghan Molloy Wright first opened the doors to their Eden Terrace restaurant in 1999 and they intend to still be the toast of the restaurant scene in 10 years time.
Judge and Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson says it’s a good time to dine out in Auckland with so many new places opening and rising standards.
‘‘On the other hand it’s pretty tough for a lot of the restaurants. There are just too many in the city now and that has led to some highprofile closures in the past year.’’
Mr Wright says last year was the hardest since they started the business but things are turning around.
‘‘We see a lot more empty champagne bottles, put it that way.’’
Breaking into the over-saturated Auckland market would have been tough for any restaurant over the last few years but fusion eatery Kazuya has managed to crack the formula.
Owner and head chef Kazuya Yamauchi says he feels honoured to be recognised with an award.
‘‘When we first opened I was so worried that people weren’t going to understand my style of cooking because it’s so unique.’’
Mr Yamauchi’s menu, influenced by European and Japanese styles, took more than six months to win customers over, he says.
Next year, he hopes the restaurant will give The French Cafe a run for its money for the title of Auckland’s best restaurant.
Winning formula, Sacre bleu: Creghan Molloy Wright and Simon Wright, the owners of The French Cafe, have taken out the top spot in the Metro Emirates Restaurant of the Year Awards for the fifth time.