Meatlovers' Paradise - top cuts from top beef and lamb chefs

If you’re serious about red meat New Zealand eateries should feature high on your must-dine-at list.  

New Zealand is the land of plenty when it comes to beef and lamb. Here’s the lowdown on the best restaurants in New Zealand to savour local produce.

If you’re serious about red meat – from perfectly seared steaks to blush-pink lamb cutlets, tender braised brisket and yielding-to-a-spoon lamb shoulder – New Zealand eateries should feature high on your must-dine-at list.  

High-country and coastal farms deliver meat with a fantastic range and depth of flavour, while talented chefs in both cities and small towns cook and serve up the best cuts in deliciously creative ways. 

Each year, Beef + Lamb New Zealand hosts Excellence Awards, recognising exceptional beef and lamb dishes in restaurants around the country, as well as the talented chefs behind them. Here are the five eateries whose chefs were named ambassadors for 2017.

Mint Restaurant, Hawke’s Bay 

In a heritage building facing the sea, Mint Restaurant’s chef-owner Steve Beere delivers a contemporary menu that’s rooted in classic European technique. There’s a welcoming open fire inside the warm-toned dining room, where you can enjoy meals such as 14-hour cooked lamb shoulder with fennel-infused lamb heart, celeriac puree and parsnip sponge, or beef fillet accompanied by slow-cooked beef cheek with white polenta and a beef croquette. Beere likes to use locally sourced Hawke’s Bay meat where possible, and says beef and lamb are always hot menu items.

Mint Restaurant
189 Marine Parade, Napier (+64 6 835 4050)
Dinner, Monday – Saturday

Nero, Manawatu

Nero chef-owner Scott Kennedy has been a beef and lamb ambassador for a number of years, and is proud to use Coastal Spring Lamb and grass-fed Taupo Beef. Depending on the season, you may find these starring in dishes such as slow-braised lamb shoulder with seared lamb loin, fragrant south Indian jus, pickled vegetables and shaved coconut, or beef fillet with a short rib and mushroom spring roll. You can dine alfresco in the leafy courtyard, or savour your meal with a glass of red in the homely dining room.

Cafe Nero
36 Amesbury St, Palmerston North (+64 6 354 0312)
Lunch, Monday-Friday; Dinner, Monday – Saturday

Logan Brown, Wellington

The elder statesman of fine dining in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, Logan Brown is housed in an elegant 1920s building – once a bank chamber – and features an ornate vaulted ceiling, classical columns and a welcoming yet sophisticated feel. Head chef and co-owner Shaun Clouston oversees a polished, flavour-packed menu that celebrates the country’s best produce. Beef and lamb dishes are naturally standouts, with the likes of roast lamb rump with kumara, pistachio and Kaikoura labneh, and hop-and-hoisin-braised beef short rib with smoked milk mash and heirloom carrots.

Logan Brown
192 Cuba St, Wellington (+64 4 801 5114)
Lunch, Wednesday-Saturday; Dinner, Tuesday – Sunday

Mahana Estates, Nelson

A short drive from Nelson at the top of the South Island, Mahana Estates is an organic vineyard and winery with an outstanding on-site restaurant. Nab a seat outdoors on the lush green lawn and take in the view of surrounding vineyards leading onto gently rolling hills and mountain ranges. Then tear your attention away to focus on your plate; executive chef Alistair Forster is a master with beef and lamb, serving up aesthetically pleasing plates such as poached and seared lamb loin with sweetcorn, smoked goat’s cheese mash and mint gel, or Angus beef fillet with crisp beef cheek, spinach, onion puree and boulangère potatoes.

Mahana Estates
243 Old Coach Rd, RD1 Upper Moutere (+64 3 543 2817)
Daily, 11am-4.30pm; Thursday to Saturday, 5.30pm-late

Pitches Store, Central Otago

The tiny Central Otago town of Ophir proudly lays claim to one of the area’s best restaurants. Built in the 1880s, the lovingly restored stone building was once a general store, and is today home to the Pitches Store boutique hotel and eatery. Talented Australian-born chef Daniel Hill is behind the stoves and has a clear affinity with beef and lamb, delivering fine-dining-style dishes such as lamb loin with cucumber, green peppercorn gel and caviar, or beef eye fillet with cabbage, smoked bone marrow, porcini mille-feuille and truffle cream.

Pitches Store
45 Swindon St, Ophir (+64 3 447 3240)
Open early August to early June (summer, daily from 10am; winter, Thursday-Monday from 10am)