Nic Watt

 

Japanese robata restaurant, Masu, is the winner of this year’s 2014 Metro Restaurant of the Year Supreme Award. It’s the first time a restaurant in the smart dining category has won overall, which confirms the overall trend of Auckland dining towards a more casual, lively environment.

Nic Watt credit Michael Bradley 3
Nic Watt in his award-winning restaurant Masu. Photo credit: Michael Bradley

Since opening in October 2013 with chef Nic Watt at the helm, Masu has embraced the combination of a casual environment paired with exemplary food, according to Metro editor Simon Wilson. “Masu is a most impressive addition to Auckland’s restaurant scene. It’s sophisticated, yet informal. The food is magnificent but the atmosphere is lively. And we really love the Japanese menu.”

“These are the things Aucklanders are embracing when we go out to eat. We want to have a really good time and we want to do that without sacrificing anything in standards of food and service,” says Wilson.

Watt spent eight years with the Roka group, a family of robatayaki-style restaurants in London, Hong Kong, Macau and Arizona, bringing to Masu the worldly experience gained from those businesses.

Wilson says New Zealanders have become increasingly adventurous with cuisine. “The fact this is a Japanese restaurant run by a New Zealander is symbolic of something much larger in this city: we’re comfortable in a cosmopolitan urban world. Nic Watt has created a restaurant that takes a real step forward for the city.”

However, the long stayers of the Auckland dining world have also continued to impress with the judges awarding two runners up: neighbourhood bistro The Engine Room in Northcote Point and Ponsonby fine-dining restaurant Sidart. The Engine Room also takes out the Upmarket Bistro category. This restaurant has won its category every year since it opened nine years ago

Masu’s category awards are for Smart Dining – the winner of the category has never before taken out the supreme award – and Best New Restaurant. Sidart wins Fine Dining category, which it has never won. Owner Sid Sahrawat is also named Chef of the Year.

There are four new awards in 2014.

Michael Dearth has been named Restaurateur of the Year, for his efforts in establishing two five-spoon restaurants in the city, The Grove and Baduzzi.  The five-spoon system is Metro’s unique method of rating restaurants.

Best New Talent goes to Chef Tom Hishon and front-of-house Josh Helm, owners of Ponsonby’s Orphans Kitchen.

Best Renewal goes to Mediterranean game-focused bistro Cazador on Dominion Rd and the restaurant with the best degustation menu is Clooney. The French Café again takes the accolade for best service, the fourth year in a row it has done so.

Best Value for Money Restaurant goes to Ima and Titirangi’s The Refreshment Room while Best Drinks List is won by Cocoro. Ponsonby Road Bistro is awarded Best Mid-Size Drinks List and Best Short Drinks List goes to Eight.Two. Waiheke’s The Shed at Te Motu Vineyard takes home Best Rural Restaurant.

The 2014 winners have been chosen from 50 finalists and the awards have been announced at a special awards dinner at Shed 10 on Queens Wharf. All the winners feature in the May issue of Metro, on sale 29 April.

Listing the category winners and finalists:

SUPREME WINNER
Masu

Co-runners up
The Engine Room
Sidart

BEST FINE DINING
Sidart

Runner up
The Grove

BEST UPMARKET BISTRO
The Engine Room

Runner up
Baduzzi

BEST SMART DINING
Masu

Runner up
Clooney

BEST CASUAL BISTRO
Orphans Kitchen

Runner up
Coco’s Cantina

RESTAURATEUR OF THE YEAR
Michael Dearth, The Grove/Baduzzi

BEST DEGUSTATION
Clooney

Runner up
Kazuya

BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Masu

BEST CHEF
Sid Sahrawat, Sidart

Finalists
Makoto Tokuyama, Cocoro
Nic Watt, Masu
Ben Bayly, The Grove / Baduzzi
Des Harris, Clooney
Michael Meredith, Merediths
Kazuya Yamauchi, Kazuya

BEST NEW TALENT
Tom Hinson and Josh Helm, Orphans Kitchen

BEST SERVICE 
The French Café

Finalists
The Engine Room
Sidart
Clooney
Kazuya
Coco’s Cantina

BEST RENEWAL
Cazador

Runner up
The Engine Room

BEST RURAL
The Shed, Te Motu

Runner up
Bracu

BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
Ima and The Refreshment Room (joint winnners)

BEST DRINKS LIST
Cocoro

Finalists
Andiamo
Clooney
Masu
O’Connell St Bistro

BEST MID-SIZE DRINKS LIST
Ponsonby Road Bistro

Finalists
Baduzzi
Moochowchow

BEST SHORT DRINKS LIST
Eight.Two

Finalists
Merediths
Stafford Rd Wine Bar

PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
Gatlin Avery (Depot)

A team of nine judges including restaurateurs and food writers decided this year’s awards. One of the awards was open to public vote – The Metro Restaurant Personality of the Year which honours front-of-house restaurant staff. Votes were cast at metromag.co.nz and on Facebook.

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