French Cafe re­gains top spot

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

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.

Photo: JESS LEE

Photo: KEN DOWNIE

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.

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