Good things come in small packages, something that is certainly the case for Auckland's best restaurant of the year Pasture.
Last night the six-seat Parnell-based restaurant claimed the title of Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year, with owner Ed Verner also named best chef.
Pasture was the big winner of the night, also winning the best fine-dining category, the best dish and runner-up for best drinks list.
After the awards announcement, Verner said the team at Pasture felt like the underdogs but were honoured to be recognised for the work they do.
"All of us at Pasture have killed ourselves to do what we do and sometimes it felt like it was impossible because there's only three of us that run the restaurant," he said.
Verner wanted to thank staff members past and present and his ex-wife Laura for the hard work they put in and for sticking with him during the tough times.
At present, he has no future plans for the restaurant and wants to continue to "have fun".
Meanwhile, Metro editor Henry Oliver said the restaurant might lack in size but it makes up for it in ambience, detail and experimentation.
"We set out to find not just Auckland's best food, but its best dining experience, and Pasture gave us one we'd never had before, pushing the limits of what a night at a restaurant can be," he said.
"Six guests are seated at a bar, and see their dishes cooked right in front of them by a small team of chefs who take care of the entire experience, pouring wine, mixing cocktails, clearing plates and guiding you through the evening.
"Each dish is as surprising and innovative as the last, with chef Ed Verner combining traditional methods of fermentation with modern techniques and a relentless dedication to quality ingredients."
Similarly, after Jesse Mulligan visited Pasture for a Herald Viva Magazine restaurant review, he labelled it "world class" and gave it a perfect rating.
Cazador won best neighbourhood restaurant and overall runner-up for the second year in a row at the awards night held at the Auckland Town Hall.
The restaurant's family ownership over two generations appealed to international executive judge Pat Nourse, as well as its nose-to-tail eating.
"Cazador is like nothing else I've seen anywhere, really — an incredible mix of wild flavours, sharp ideas and careful cooking", Nourse said.
The judging panel considered more than 100 contenders, refining the list to 50 after several months of deliberation.
Judges paid for their own meals and visited restaurants anonymously.
Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year 2019 winners:
Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year 2019
Winner: Ed Verner
Runner-up: Jo Pearson
Restaurateur of the Year
Winner: Sid and Chand Sahrawat (joint), Sidart, Sid at The French Cafe and Cassia
Runner-up: Michael Dearth, The Grove, Baduzzi
Best New Restaurant
Winner: Three Seven Two
Best Fine-Dining Restaurant
Best Smart Restaurant
Best All-Day Restaurant
Best Casual Restaurant
Best Neighbourhood Restaurant
Runners-up: The Engine Room
Peugeot People's Choice Award for Best Dish
Winner: Crispy Soft Shell Crab, Saan
Best Wine List
Winner: O'Connell Street Bistro
Best Drinks List
Winner: Ponsonby Road Bistro
Restaurant Personality of the Year
Winner: Hiro Kawahara, Sid at the French Cafe
Runner-up: Carlo Buenaventura, Gemmayze St
Best Destination Restaurant
Winner: Three Seven Two
Runner-up: The Tasting Shed
Winner: Aged New Zealand Wagyu & AC/DC, Pasture