When the cold nights kick in it can be very tempting to bunker down on the couch and not venture out again until spring.
We all have to eat though and even the most cold-averse among us will get tired of eating at home after a while. The answer is to head out, but where is there to dine that is warm, comfortable and full of deliciousness?
These restaurants, bars, bistros and cafes from all over New Zealand just ooze warm and cosy. They reach out to you on a cold night, offering the warmest of culinary hugs, so shake on your warmest coat and head out for evening. You won't regret it.
The Lodge Bar and Dining
Auckland's Commercial Bay is open to some very cosy spots to enjoy a great meal and escape the cold and The Lodge is one of the best. The Lodge Bar and Dining offers up a menu designed by Matt Lambert (The Musket Room) and a wine list chosen by Cameron Douglas (Master Sommelier).
The interior is modern, yet inviting, with a pitched roof, blonde timber floor, brass detailing and, best-of-all, ridiculously comfortable chairs draped with a snowy-white sheepskin to keep you comfortable and warm. This is definitely the sort of place to sit and savour your meal on a frosty Friday night.
7 Queen St, Auckland CBD
Essentially based on an exploration of the wonderful ways you can cook wild game, Cazador is a truly unique dining experience, not to mention being intimate and seductive. Situated all by its lonesome on a quiet stretch of Dominion road, Cazador is a great choice for a cold or rainy night as parking is ample and stress minimal.
Inside the darkly lit interior, you will find a small number of simple wooden tables, while towards the back is a sweet little bar, with a few high tables and even a deck of cards. There are also quite a few animal heads mounted to the walls, adding to the wild old-world hunter aesthetic.
When the time comes to eat you can opt for their "feast", or simply choose your favourites, either way you will enjoy delights such as roasted venison and quail hearts, not to mention their house made charcuterie, for which Cazador is famous.
854 Dominion Road, Mt Eden
A lovely, bistro-priced restaurant with comfortable armchairs and a crackling fireplace. More than just a restaurant, DeBretts is also a boutique, downtown hotel and, as you head up to the kitchen you will pass Corner Bar, a sweet spot for a pre-dinner drink.
Once settled upstairs to dine you will notice the muted teals, purples and oranges that feel a little bit opulent without being overwhelming. Add to this the fact that the acoustics are forgiving so you can converse with ease and you may find yourself wanting to make a night of it. Staycation anyone?
3B O'Connell Street, Auckland CBD
Little Jimmy Bar & Eatery – Epsom
At the busy and bustling Greenwoods Corner you will find Little Jimmy's. Café by day and restaurant by night, Little Jimmy's is a welcome respite at any time. With outdoor tables secluded behind windproof perspex screens and heaters galore you will be toasty and warm whether you choose to sit in or out.
Inside you will find that the restaurant is made up of two rooms, with additional seating upstairs, which evokes a very "at home" feeling. To sum up the appeal of Little Jimmy's, parking is free, the vibe is relaxed and, along with flavour-packed share plates - think delicious roasted merino alpine lamb with minted sorrel pesto and radicchio - the menu includes pizza. What more could you need?
557 Manukau Road, Epsom
Warm and welcoming, with shared tables and equally share-friendly dishes, Social Kitchen is a delicious respite from the cold. Tucked just off the main street of New Plymouth this popular local eatery is easy to find and impossible not to like.
From pate to mushrooms, flaming halloumi to melt-in-your-mouth lamb shoulder this is one eatery to venture to with a crowd. The more people you have with you, the more dishes you get to gorge on.
40 Powderham St, New Plymouth
Meat and Liquor
This small and intimate eatery is just what its' name suggests. With a focus on carefully aged beef and a vibrant wine list, this is one for the carnivores. That being said though, there are some total showstoppers of the non-meat variety on offer here too, such as smoked snapper mousse with squid-ink crackers, crunchy tempura hapuka wings, smoked duck with a sweet maple glaze and delectable mushrooms sautéed with black garlic and truffle oil. With an array of winter degustation with wine matching events coming up this is the perfect stop for a cold night.
34A Egmont St, New Plymouth
There are lots of great options in Rotorua's Eat Street and being largely undercover it is a great escape on a cold night. For a delicious, yet casual meal it is hard to go past Atticus Finch with its wide array of share plates packed with fresh ingredients and well-balanced flavours. The interior is warm and welcoming or you can choose to dine al-fresco which is comfortable even in the depths of winter thanks to large gas heaters working their magic under the enclosed roof. This is trendy bistro far done really, really well.
1106 Tutanekai St, Rotorua
Two Mile Bay Sailing Club
On a cold winter evening the open fires at Two Mile Bay Sailing Club will warm you as look out over stunning Lake Taupō. While you await the arrival of the crunchy based, generously topped pizzas you may also be lucky enough to take in some live music. This cosy spot is also kid and dog-friendly and has ample parking right out front.
331 Lake Terrace, Two Mile Bay, Taupō
The cutest and cosiest restaurant you ever did see. Located in an adorable old building that looks like it could be from a pebbled laneway in Tuscany, this Newtown eatery is Italian delights with a homely vibe.
Based on the tradition of the humble Italian "osteria", Cicio Cacio has a menu that changes monthly, exploring different regional Italian cuisine. Most of what you will enjoy here has been lovingly made by hand, from the freshly baked bread, to the pasta and sausages. With a lovingly curated list of Italian wines also on offer this is the perfect winter stop for dinner.
167 Riddiford St, Newtown, Wellington
Le Café Plum
Bonjour! Le Cafe Plum in Wellington is the perfect spot if you're feeling a little bit fancy, but like to keep it simple, or you just want somewhere cosy to hide away from that chilly Wellington wind. Tucked away on Cuba St, it's French cafe meets cocktail bar.
Their coffee is excellent and it's worth staying for a cocktail - or a few - alongside one of their generous savoury sharing plates or a crepe if you're craving dessert. Curled up in a cosy booth or one of their comfy couches, you'll never want to leave.
103 Cuba Street Wellington
Concrete Bar and Restaurant in Wellington
Escapism is at the top of the menu at Concrete Bar in Wellington with the Glenlivet Concrete Jungle. Camouflage yourself away from Lambton Quay and into the wild abyss for a few hours with a swathe of delicious treats and whiskey in your own personal cosy glasshouse.
Level 1 Cable Car Lane, Lambton Quay, Wellington
Enjoy stunning wood-fired pizzas as you revel in the delightfully pink interior of Pipi Café. The vibe is so relaxed you feel almost like you are settling down for natter in a close friend's living room. In addition to an array of traditional Italian-style pizzas this cosy eatery also offers up some fancier options such as duck confit with orange herb sauce, slow cooked lamb shoulder and some delightful pasta options including bacon and blue cheese penne.
16 Joll Rd, Havelock North
Rimu Wine Bar
Rimu Wine Bar is the perfect spot for warming up, in more ways than one. With a treasure trove of different wines available for tasting – the tasting trees make this experience even more fun - and an open fire to cosy up next to you will never want to leave. So sit back and sip, order a pizza or platter when hunger strikes and bask in the fact that you are warm, comfortable and satiated.
404/6 Aranui Road, Mapua
Fork and Tap
Mulled wine, vintage armchairs and a woodburner are exactly what you need on a winter day in frigid, yet picturesque Arrowtown. This cosy-as-it-gets hideaway opens early so you can imbibe before noon if your heart desires it. The menu is classic pub-style fare with a classy twist and the well thought out kids menu makes this a warm and snuggly spot for the whole family.
51 Buckingham St, Arrowtown