Hospitality Business Magazine

Waikato names its top places to dine!

Late night lounge Ernest, celebrated for its extensive cocktail menu and exceptional table service has won three key awards in the Restaurant Association of New Zealand’s Waikato awards.

Ernest has won the following honours: the Supreme Establishment Outstanding Bar, Outstanding Front of House Team, and Outstanding Bartender for Roberto Valenzuela.

The awards recognise the hospitality professionals, all of whom are making a positive impact on the local café and dining scene.

Taking home the award for Supreme Individual is Lisa Quarrie. Lisa, a key figure in Hamilton’s culinary scene, co-owns Hayes Common and Weave Eatery with her husband Brent. They are known for their breakfast, lunch, and casual evening dining, drawing inspiration from global flavours. Lisa was celebrated for her input into the Waikato hospitality scene.

Taking home the award for Supreme Individual is Lisa Quarrie. Lisa, a key figure in Hamilton’s culinary scene, co-owns Hayes Common and Weave Eatery with her husband Brent.

Thyme Square Restaurant, Hamilton’s haven for intimate dining, proudly clinched two prestigious awards: Logan Murray was awarded as the Outstanding Chef, while Tayla Mitchell was recognised as the Emerging Front of House talent.

Riverside eatery Gothenburg won the hearts of the public with the People’s Choice Award.

Drawing inspiration from the exceptional culinary experiences and service they encountered during their global travels, Gothenburg initially launched on Hood Street in 2009, later relocating to a new riverside location to fully embrace the beauty of the Waikato’s scenic surroundings.

Great cafes are also not lacking in the region with Kopi Café winning the accolade of Outstanding Cafe.

Kopi Café won the accolade for Waikato’s Outstanding Cafe.

Those looking for the region’s best flat white should head straight to Lykke Café where Daniel Woodhouse was the winner of Outstanding Barista.

The prestigious award for an Outstanding Regional Establishment was bestowed upon Alpino, the renowned restaurant located in Cambridge.

CEO Marisa Bidois says, “In the heart of the Waikato region, there are a wealth of exceptional dining choices, ranging from buzzing bars and inviting wine and tapas havens to gourmet regional restaurants and chic cafes.

“We must pause to acknowledge those individuals who celebrate our exceptional produce and graciously invite us into their venues. Among the remarkable finalists, there stand champions of the local hospitality industry, deserving of our recognition.”

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony at Claudelands.

Waikato Hospitality Awards 2023 Winners Gilmours Supreme Establishment


Gilmours Supreme Individual

Lisa Quarrie

The Breeze People’s Choice Award


Restaurant Association Outstanding Barista

Daniel Woodhouse, Lykke Cafe

Restaurant Association Outstanding Bartender

Roberto Valenzuela, Ernest

Restaurant Association of NZ Outstanding Front of House Team


DineFind Emerging Front of House

Tayla Mitchell,Thyme Square Restaurant

DineFind Emerging Chef

Romil Kalia, Hayes Common

Bidfresh Outstanding Chef

Logan Murray, Thyme Square Restaurant

Bidfood Outstanding Café

Kopi Café

Southern Hospitality Outstanding Bar


DineFind Outstanding Casual Dining/Street Food

Banh Mi Caphe

OneMusic Outstanding Ambience & Design

Mr. Pickles Bar & Eatery

Nova Energy Outstanding Regional Establishment

Alpino Cambridge

Silver Fern Farms Outstanding Restaurant

Palate Restaurant

Restaurant Association of NZ Outstanding Supplier


Restaurant Association Outstanding Sales Rep

Hamish Pedley, Reward Hospitality