Hawke's Bay fine dining experiences

Here are 5 top fine dining experiences in Hawkes Bay including 2 restaurants that opened in 2011 and cook at the upper level of Bay food gastronomy.

1. Pacifica New Zealand

Pacifica is a fine dining restaurant set in a blue beach bungalow overlooking the beach in Napier. The food focus is on quality, excitement, freshness, passion, and flavor. The menu is continually evolving and progressing so this is the type of place locals keep on coming back to particularly for the seafood. 

2. Ten Twenty Four

Ten Twenty Four is opened in Dec 2011 by renowned New Zealand chef Kent Baddeley. This is a country dining restaurant open for lunches every day except Wednesday in the heart of Hastings. Expect magnificiently constructed dishes that mix flavours and texture in new and interesting ways. Ten Twenty Four is run by many of the same calibre of team from Petit Lyon Culinery Institute fame.


3. Elephant Hill Winery Restaurant

The restaurant at Elephant Hill winery has spectacular views across the winery, stretching out to Te Awanga beach. If you enjoy expansive vistas of a rural setting from the comfort of an urban restaurant deck, then this is the place for you. Ashley Jones is the chef at Elephant Hill and we interviewed him recently on what he feels is important about the food at Elephant Hill.

4. The Old Church

The Old Church is set in between Hastings and Napier in a stunningly restored church that is known for its weddings as much as its restaurant and sunny courtyard. Richard Highnam from Kermadec Restaurant in Auckland took over the Head Chef role in April 2011 and hasn't looked back. Expect and try seafood inspired dishes as that's where you'll be immediately impressed, and seafood is the ideal summer dish to eat in the courtyard while enjoying the hot Hawke's Bay sun.

5. Mint Restaurant

Mint Restaurant opened mid 2011 on the shorefront in Napier and is already starting to earn it's reputation as a fine dining restaurant in Hawke's Bay. Although not at the top end dining you can expect at Pacifica, it does not fail to impress and is a little less pricey. One added advantage of Mint Restaurant is the bar at the front that opens out on to the street making this a good meet-up place before dinner as well. Bookings essential as the number of tables is limited.