'Wild' hosts win top NZ restaurant award
19 Aug 2009
Wellington restaurant Logan Brown has been named Supreme Winner in the 2009 NZ Cuisine ‘Restaurant of the Year’ awards.
Owned by Steve Logan and Al Brown, hosts of the popular New Zealand television show Hunger for the Wild, the restaurant beat 39 other finalists to take New Zealand's top restaurant award.
Melbourne-based food and wine writer Ralph Kyte-Powell, who was guest international judge for the annual awards, said the Logan Brown dining experience was "so seamless, so 'big occasion' yet so welcoming, so expert yet so friendly.
''If I had to select an international flagship for New Zealand cuisine, Logan Brown would be hard to go past,'' said Kyte-Powell.
Other judges praised the Cuba Street restaurant's atmosphere, menu, wine list and service. Logan Brown also won the Best Smart Dining - Metropolitan Award.
The 21 food critics and hospitality professionals who judged the 2009 awards said Logan Brown was up against serious competition from Clooney, Merediths, Soul Bar & Bistro and The French Café (all in Auckland), and Saggio di Vino in Christchurch.
But Logan Brown’s win means Wellington has had four out of five supreme winners in the five years of the competition.
Last year the capital city’s Matterhorn restaurant was named supreme winner, with Martin Bosley's, also in Wellington, winning the top award the year before.
However, judges said standards were becoming more even across New Zealand, and the 2009 category winners reflected the regional spread of excellence with Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and Canterbury making their mark.
- Best Smart Dining - Metropolitan: Logan Brown
- Best Smart Dining - Metropolitan runner-up: Clooney, Auckland
- Best Smart Dining - Regional: Bouterey's at 251, Richmond, Nelson
- Best Smart Dining - Regional runner-up: Pacifica, Napier
- Best Casual Dining - Metropolitan: Soul Bar & Bistro, Auckland
- Best Casual Dining - Metropolitan runner-up: Saggio di Vino, Christchurch
- Best Casual Dining - Regional: Hopgood's Restaurant & Bar, Nelson
- Best Casual Dining - Regional runner-up: Wendy Campbell's French Bistro, Martinborough
- Best Neighbourhood Restaurant: Molten, Mt Eden, Auckland
- Best Winery Restaurant: First equal - Terroir at Craggy Range, Hawke's Bay; Pegasus Bay Winery Restaurant, Waipara
Background: Logan Brown Restaurant, Wellington
2009 Cuisine awards judges were unanimous in their praise for central city Wellington restaurant Logan Brown, saying the atmosphere, menu, wine list and service were all hard to fault.
A 1920s banking chamber - ringed by columns like an ancient Greek temple beneath a soaring classical dome - was seen as perhaps a surprising setting for a restaurant owned by Hunger for the Wild stars, Steve Logan and Al Brown.
Their television series casts them as hunting-shooting-fishing Kiwi lads, but the unpretentious pair have made Logan Brown a temple of serious dining that captivated judges.
Contemporary art by Paul Dibble and Ann Robinson offsets the formality of the room, as does a big lounge bar. Diners can expect to be cosseted and served by well-informed, attentive service staff, NZ Cuisine reported.
"Head chef Shaun Clouston writes the menu in conjunction with co-owner Al Brown, creating memorable dishes that are not overburdened flavour combinations.
"Game often appears on the menu as well as unusual indigenous ingredients, such as farmed Bluff-style oysters (meatier than the wild). The paua ravioli has become a classic not to be missed and anything from the ocean is guaranteed to be utterly fresh. There’s a light hand at work on the desserts, creating a choice that’s hard to decide on.
"Fittingly for the magnificent food, the wine list is one of the most impressive around, with premium New Zealand bottles and a stellar selection of imported prestige wines," said the judges’ report.
New Zealand chef: Al Brown
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