Viva's Top Rated Restaurants of 2015

A carrot, coffee, leek and buckwheat dish from the nine-course degustation at Sidart. Picture / Guy Coombes.

Sidart, Ponsonby - 10/10
The chef's table at Sidart is Auckland's most expensive meal, and its most incredible. For $180 a person you'll receive nine courses of food plus extras, while sitting with three friends in gallery formation at the kitchen pass of the city's best chef.
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Euro, Princes Wharf - 9.5/10
Euro is on the verge of something special. It's been cut down to half of its original size, superchef Gareth Stewart has rebuilt the menu and suddenly everything feels almost perfect.
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Saan, Ponsonby - 9/10
The food is breathtakingly good. The ingredients are bold and individual, not hidden away in a sauce. The Isaan sausages, for example, spheres rather than cylinders, come in a cabbage leaf cup with a little pile of peanuts plus slices of raw chilli, garlic and ginger.  
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Pasta & Cuore, Mt Eden - 9/10
Put simply, this is as good as food gets. You might find something fancier, or more innovative or more healthy. But you won't find a more beautiful expression of tasty, traditional European food. I usually include some recommended dishes in these reviews, but I doubt you could order badly if you tried.
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Phil's Kitchen, Kingsland - 9/10 
Though Auckland these days has a new restaurant opening each week, and most of them are solidly nice places to eat, Phil's is something different. The food is ambitious and delicious, and the people who work there are so adorably enthusiastic.
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Miss Moonshine's, Ponsonby - 9/10
I'd go back just for the cauliflower, served in a hot skillet, its "truffle crumb" topping singed to a crunch under the grill and all creamy cheese beneath. Then afterwards the doughnuts — diamond shaped and deep fried hollow, served with a thick salted caramel and whipped cream.
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Madam Woo, Takapuna - 9/10
I've become obsessed with a new food mash-up, just a few hundred metres away at Malaysian-inspired eatery Madam Woo. Here, chef-co-owner Josh Emett has invented the roti-taco/rotaco/tacoti. For now let's call it what he calls it: a hawker roll.
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Chikos, Henderson - 8.5/10
The dishes are ambitious. Take nicoise salad, generally a straightforward toss-up of tomato, canned tuna, boiled egg, anchovies and olives. At Chikos the tuna is fresh and seared, the anchovies are panko-crumbed sardines, the egg is a smoked fish omelette and the olives are an inky tapenade.
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The Culpeper, Princes Wharf - 8.5/10
Food highlights included a 12-hour smoked lamb shoulder, incredibly juicy pieces of deep fried duck in buttermilk and broccolini served with chorizo crumb, black beans and yoghurt.
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Eight Point Two, Birkenhead - 8.5/10
There are no superfoods at Eight Point Two, but the food is super. It's almost faultless, actually, thanks to some great cooking and new executive chef Des Harris watching like the Eye of Sauron from his regular station at Clooney.
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Brothers Juke Joint, Mt Eden - 8.5/10
We all (I'm now one of them, sadly) get so excited about a barbecue restaurant — not just the taste of the meat, but because we don't have to muck around cooking it ourselves. Brothers Juke Joint is a refurbished factory space on the fringe of suburbia. 
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Beirut, Auckland CBD - 8.5/10
Pickled fries! It's a simple and wonderful idea, and I thought of them again on Monday night when I tried Beirut's saffron candy floss, impossibly fine and sugary, served with a spoonful of thick clotted cream. 
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Woodpecker Hill, Parnell - 8.5/10
It's an odd mix that works perfectly on the plate. Brisket is slow-cooked for 14 hours, resulting in beautiful, shining slabs of fall-apart meat paired with pickled papaya slaw. In another offering, the ''burnt end'' offcuts of the brisket are lovingly tossed together with lemongrass, fried shallots and a glorious medley of fresh Vietnamese herbs.
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