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Alfie Ingham, Head Chef at Hugo’s Bistro Reveals His 10 Favourite Eateries in New Zealand

Parisian bistros, Spanish pintxos bars and Italian trattorias serve as inspiration for Alfie Ingham’s menu at Auckland’s Hugo’s Bistro.

“We work with small suppliers, cheesemongers, fisherman and butchers. Their produce makes up the majority of the menu,” says the head chef. Ingham’s love for simple, bold flavours sees a menu that lets the produce take centre stage, while a passion for local ingredients drives the menu’s direction. Ingham spoke with STYLE to share his favourite restaurants and dining spots around Aotearoa.

La Fuente Wine & Mezcal, Auckland

Tucked down the CBD’s Snickel Lane is Auckland’s go-to mezcal bar. “A great spot to try a diverse range of wines and let Mundo guide you through the world of mezcal,” says Ingham.

Gochu, Auckland

Photo credit: Yuki Zhang

Ingham loves the modern Korean cuisine on offer at Commercial Bay’s Gochu. “You’ll have to get Jason’s fried chicken which is amazing. But don’t miss out on dishes like the Mool Hwe, cold fish soup or Soon Dae, venison black pudding wrapped in seaweed.”

Rita, Wellington

Wellington’s iconic Rita is the dinner spot where Ingham is dying to go. “I’ve heard nothing but great things about this restaurant, a daily changing three-course menu inspired by the seasons.”

Lillius, Auckland

Photo credit: Tez Mercer Photography

“Fraser and Shannon have created a truly beautiful restaurant with innovative dishes, using incredible produce,” says Ingham. “Their creative uses of vegetables always surprise me – the yam tart for dessert is incredible!”

Cassia, Auckland

Sid Sarhawat’s award-winning Cassia is a “guaranteed fun night out” says Ingham. “I think Cassia set the bar for restaurants in New Zealand years ago, and it’s still at the top.”

Cooked, Whitianga

Whitianga’s Cooked serves up world-class Mexican cuisine in a laid-back setting. Ingham recommends the tacos and tequila at this hidden gem in the heart of the Coromandel.

Cazador, Auckland

Photo credit: Pippa Drummond

At Cazador, you’ll find a unique family restaurant that’s famous for its wild game. “Drink sherry, eat the charcuterie and let them treat you like a local,” says Ingham. Choose from the a la carte menu to try the feast menu for the ultimate Cazador experience.

Kika, Wanaka

Visit Wanaka’s Kika for “some of the best food in the country,” says Ingham. “My old boss, James Stapley, is one of the best chefs in the country.” The eclectic space and unique menu is matched with a carefully curated wine list of local and international varietals.

Apéro, Auckland

Blackboard specials and delicious meats are Ingham’s recommendations when dining at Apéro. “Eat terrine, sausage, everything on the blackboard and let Mo decide your drinks,” he says. “Go in for a quick wine and leave far later than you planned.”

Sherwood, Queenstown

Discover vintage-inspired rooms and an exceptional restaurant at this boutique hotel in Queenstown. “They grow a lot of their own produce and it shows in their seasonal menu,” says Ingham.

STYLE Insider: Indie Bookstore Owner Mandy Myles Talks Literary Icons, Podcast Obsessions and Dinner with Princess Margaret

Wanaka-based Mandy Myles’ has turned her lockdown passion project into a burgeoning bookstore business, filling the gap in the local market for an online indie bookshop with a curated eye. We talk to the book-lover about launching a business during a pandemic, her favourite titles of 2020 and who she’d invite to her dream dinner party. 

If I had to describe myself in two sentences… I am a real homebody who loves a good book and a nice glass of wine. I usually have some creative project or hobby underway and currently, I am pouring all my creative passion into Bookety Book Books.

The idea for Bookety Book Books started… I’ve dreamt about owning a bookstore forever and when we went into lockdown I used this new spare time to post book reviews on Instagram.

It became quite popular and people started commenting about how they appreciated my recommendations as they found choosing what to read somewhat overwhelming. And so I launched Bookety Book Books, a user-friendly online indie bookstore, with a curated selection for like-minded readers to guide them on their next best read.

I’m listening to… Any music by Charlotte Day Wilson – all the time.

My current podcast recommendation… Pandora Sykes’ (originally from The High Low) new solo podcast, Doing it Right, which coincides with her recent book launch. On the podcast, Sykes interviews a host of fascinating ‘experts’ about their life including hopes, dreams and anxieties. She has this wonderful ability to crack into intricacies of societal pressures and how we can potentially view them a bit differently.

In my handbag, you’ll find… Snacks, heaps of snacks. I always joke about having ‘low blood pressure’ but really I am just an awful person when I’m hungry. Also, about ten different bright coloured lipsticks even though I mainly just wear the same one. And obviously something to read.

My favourite place to dine… My handbag (see above), but when I’m not dining from my handbag the Bannockburn Hotel is a real treat to venture to. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Wanaka and has the most amazing wine list, great views, and beautiful sharing plates. A perfect long lunch spot.

The best book I’ve read lately… Lanny, by Max Porter. I really enjoyed the elements of fantasy balanced masterfully with modern life issues. Set amongst the backdrop of a small old English village, with hints of an eccentric crime thriller, all packed into a neat short read. Deservingly longlisted for the 2019 Man Booker Prize.

Porter has this phenomenal imagination to write fiction in a way that weaves life’s realities with magic, without seeming far-fetched. I have been really enjoying experimental fiction writing lately, it adds a whole new dimension to the reader experience.

A new release book I can’t wait to get my hands on… Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan. Set in Hong Kong, Exciting Times follows the lives of three expats as they negotiate the ups and downs of modern love, class and capitalism. Dolan has been compared to Sally Rooney for this brilliantly witty debut, plus it’s only 197 pages, which suggests a very well edited plot.

The most cherished possession I own… Gifted from my Grandad, the framed recipe for the Cherry and Almond biscuits my Grandmother used to make, complete with her handwritten notes – there’s nothing quite like beautiful handwriting.

My style icon… Susie Lau – known as susie bubble on instagram (@susiebubble). I have been obsessed with her style for some time. Also Harry Styles for his pearl necklace jumper combos – a work of brilliance.

If I could have dinner with any three people on earth… Firstly Princess Margaret as she will be hosting, we will all get to wear one of her tiaras for the evening, while she plays the piano and we have a jolly good old sing along with plenty of wine on a beautiful evening at Balmoral Castle. Joining us is Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the writer and creator of Fleabag and head writer for Killing Eve. Finally Patricia Field the stylist from Sex and the City, she will dress us all. It would be an absolute riot.

Princess Margaret is one of Myles’ dream dinner guests

My favourite literary icon… I’m going to throw it back to my younger years here and say Jacqueline Wilson, she chaperoned my childhood with her offbeat characters. I think she’s helped a lot of young girls not to feel alone and will always hold a special place on my bookshelf.

The book everyone needs to read this winter is… There is a lot of talk about making sure you are reading diversely right now so check in with your ‘to read’ list that this includes some authors from home. I recommend Auē, by Becky Manawatu. Auē is a heartbreaking book having been compared to Alan Duffs, Once Were Warriors.

However, don’t let this comparison deter you as unlike Duffs sombre novel, Auē is full of beautiful characters that are so full of heart, they keep you going through this constantly unfolding journey – a true testament to Manawatu’s skill as a writer, in this award-winning debut novel. ⁣

STYLE Insider: Grace Wright talks pioneering artists, creativity and cherished possessions