Three Waitaki restaurants are finalists in the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2021, for regions outside Auckland.
Yanina and Pablo Tacchini have taken Oamaru by the horns, with three thriving establishments in the town. All hail to them. Cucina reflects their Argentinian, Italian and Spanish heritage. So, there is pisco sour to drink; there are empanadas and pastas galore. But abandon all thoughts of autonomy and yield instead to Pablo’s tasting menu. As he says, “Trust the chef.” Too terrific. Tees St, South Hill, Oamaru / cucinaoamaru.co.nz
This southern restaurant experience is one that’s well worth travelling for. Just 15km north of Oamaru, it’s the domain of chef/owner Bevan Smith, whose parents, Dot and Neil, built this family farm on a bed of river stone. Bevan has at his very fingertips an abundance of excellent produce from the extensive vegetable gardens and orchards that surround and define this place. The menu changes regularly to showcase ingredients at their very peak: you can almost smell the soil from the organic jersey bennes that have just been prised from their bed next door. Here at Riverstone, they like to keep the menu short; our memories of intense local flavour will last a whole lot longer.
1431 State Highway 1, Oamaru / riverstonekitchen.co.nz
And Fleurs Place:
The legendary Fleur Sullivan’s restaurant is on the jetty, so what you get on the blackboard menu is what’s lifted from the water on the day. Pair it with vegetables from small organic growers from around the region. Drink the region’s finest, too.
69 Haven St, Moeraki / fleursplace.com
All source as much of their produce and ingredients locally as possible.
All have delicious food, beautifully presented and served by top staff.
With three top restaurants in the top 100 from a District with only about 20,000 people, Waitaki must be a contender for culinary capital on a per head of population basis.