Local New Zealand RestaurantsThe Insider's New Zealand with The Musket Room's Chef Matt Lambert
Chef and New Zealand-native Matt Lambert's The Musket Room opened in 2013 to rave reviews and a Michelin star, taking the restaurant scene by storm. While he may call New York City home now, he has not forgotten his roots which is evident with his modern New Zealand cooking. Chef Lambert shares his insider view on the country's local flavors and how his homeland's magical and extraordinary beauty far exceeds visitor's expectations.
In your opinion, what's the best restaurant in New Zealand?
"The one place I always eat at is Meredith's because Michael Meredith is one of those ever evolving chefs who uses the best of whatever New Zealand produce is around and puts a modern twist on it."
"I usually go to Apéro on K Road. It’s just a really well executed bistro where you can relax with a bunch of friends and have a good time. They do great shareable food so you’re not locked into doing a tasting menu and there are no preconceptions so you can just roll the way you want to roll. The Ponsonby Road Bistro is another awesome restaurant in Auckland."
"Top of my list would be a day out fishing on a boat. Ideally, I’d go out in Blenheim. I love the area so much and there are so many different options for where you can go out. You can catch huge gurnard, king fish and butterfish as well as go diving for pāua (the Māori name for abaolone) and crayfish."What is your favorite way to get active in New Zealand?
"Walking through suburban Mount Eden is interesting for all the different architecture and then when you get to the top you get a great view of Auckland as well as the other volcanoes around – Mount Albert and Rangitoto Island.""And being from West Auckland there are some amazing walks in the Waitakere Ranges around Scenic Drive. There are multiple walks out there that can take you past a huge dam, to a cascade and other little bushwalks. If you’re coming from a country like America or Europe, the foliage is just so different."
What are the ingredients of a perfect New Zealand holiday?
"A bit of outdoors, some local wildlife and then relaxed food. So, for me, you can get that out at Muriwai Beach where there’s a huge, really amazing gannet colony on a black sand beach that isn’t far from Auckland at all. And it’s really close to the Kumeu wine region so it’s a great place to duck into one of the wineries for a bottle or two. A little secret is that most of the wineries have impressive and really cheap cheese boards."
"The easiest way to experience the culture as a tourist is to go to Rotorua and experience all the mud pools and geothermal lakes. And around the lakes there are maraes [Māori meeting places] that do traditional dances like the haka which is a great way to witness some of the authentic Māori culture."
"And then I’d just go to the beach and have a barbecue. We’re pretty laid back and that’s the way to relax like a local."