10 Blenheim Restaurants You Must Try Right Now
The newest eatery in downtown Blenheim is Frank’s which opened its doors to much acclaim in 2022. Led by chef and local lad Sam, who has travelled the world, doing what he loves and cooking up a storm in the process, Frank’s offers an interesting and unique menu designed for sharing - highlighting the best local, seasonal fare on offer. If oysters aren’t your thing, there’s plenty more to tempt the tastebuds with local wild game and a mindful selection of Marlborough wines and specialty cocktails. If you like being where the action is, park yourself up at the Oyster Bar with its view of the kitchen, or book a table with friends for a lively dining experience. Bookings are highly recommended.
For a relaxed gastronomical experience in a unique location, head to Harvest Restaurant, on the outskirts of Blenheim. Located on the ‘Golden Mile’ of the region’s winegrowing area and set among 16 acres of secluded park gardens and vineyards, the first thing you’ll notice on arrival is the beautiful and stately historic building. Designed by Thomas Turnbull and built in 1901 for the Sisters of Mercy, this historic Victorian convent has been extensively renovated and converted into a boutique hotel. There are a range of places to dine - relaxing in one of the stunning dining rooms, or enjoying the sun on the large garden deck, or beneath the shade of the trees in the beautiful gardens. Wherever you dine, guests can enjoy a carefully crafted, ever-changing menu, featuring the best seasonal local produce, with attention to sustainable practices where possible. Bookings are necessary.
Bonafide foodies absolutely should not miss an opportunity to dine at the darling of Marlborough’s food scene, Arbour. Established in 2015, by chef Bradley Hornby and hospitality superstar Liz Buttimore, Arbour offers innovative cuisine, an extensive wine list and warm, friendly service in a modern and relaxed environment. Arbour received Two Hats in the Cuisine Good Food Awards and was named Best Regional Restaurant in New Zealand in 2022 and Personality of the Year 2017. Tucked among the vines in the heart of wine country, 10 minute’s drive from Blenheim, Arbour offers a four-course tasting menu or - the local favourite - the 'MANY' seven-course dining experience. The ever-changing dishes showcase local producers and Marlborough stories and the limited restaurant seating is often filled with much-loved locals and regulars. Be sure you book ahead to avoid disappointment.
For delicious barbecue fare with genuine Brazilian flair and some of the most authentic and fun hospitality you will ever encounter, do yourself a favour and book a table at Gramado’s Restaurant and Bar. Established by the adorable husband and wife team, Emma and Saulo Camillo Nunes, in 2011, Gramado’s has become a firm favourite with Marlborough locals - you have got to be organised and book in advance to get a seat at this Blenheim mainstay! Chef Saulo hails from Brazil and with his unique blend of passion, charisma and showmanship, will literally have you eating delicious little delicacies from the palm of his hand. Food lovers will delight in finding this little gem of an eatery - from the delicious Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) to the Porco Loco (slow cooked pork belly) and Feijoada (smoky black bean stew), everything on the menu sings with the signature smoky flavours of traditional Brazilian barbecue, with a Kiwi twist.
The home of locally brewed beer Renaissance, the Dodson Street Beer Garden boasts the largest selection of craft beers on tap in the South Island, with 14 excellent beers from Renaissance and 10 ever-changing guest brews and arguably the best beer garden in Blenheim! Located on the outskirts of Blenheim in the oldest commercial building in Marlborough, Dodson Street Beer Garden has a long and proud history in the brewing business, built in 1858 to house the Dodson and Ball Malthouse. It’s changed hands and uses many times throughout the years, from brewery to ice cream factory to winery and restaurant and back to brewery again, when Renaissance was established in 2005. The restaurant features interesting cuisine from Germany and Italy including gulasch soup and rinds roulade, as well as the usual classics you’d expect at a Kiwi pub, including fantastic pizzas, seafood chowder, fish and chips and steak meals.
There’s no better way to get a feel for a town, than meeting the people behind its eateries - and Blenheim, which has a range of international restaurants established by people who are passionate about sharing the food and flavours of their heritage, is no different. With a focus on authentic south Indian cuisine, the team at Tamarind brings a unique take on Indian food. Dishes are inspired by the four south Indian states, mainly Kerala, which is known as the “land of spices”. Its signature range of delicious Dosas (thin savoury pancakes, stuffed with spiced chicken, potatoes, paneer or legumes) will be a hit with even the fussiest of little eaters, while vegans will delight in the many options, including its Black Chickpea Curry. There is a dairy-based Butter and Prawn Chicken, for creatures of habit, but we do recommend branching out here and perhaps trying the Kerala Fish Curry and Duck Pepper Roast - trust us, you won’t be disappointed!
If you have a craving for Japanese cuisine, head along to Gohan on Scott Street and enjoy fresh, delicious and beautiful food in a relaxed atmosphere, with friendly service. Established early in 2021 by business partners Boe Aitchison and Nat Moran, Gohan has fast become a local stand out thanks to the flavourful and creative menu and fantastic hospitality. Boe is a stalwart of the Marlborough hospitality scene, with more than 25 year’s experience in the region. Her passion for food is evident in the authentic menu and lively, welcoming atmosphere. From sharing small plates to indulging in larger dishes, rest assured you will try some new flavors and be well taken care of when you dine here.
Located on the busy thoroughfare of State Highway 1, only 10 minute’s drive north of Blenheim, it would be easy to whizz past the Grovetown Hotel without a second thought. It might look and feel like just another country pub, with its warm and welcoming vibe, but the extensive, independent beer list and thoughtful local wine selection shows an attention to detail that comes from someone who knows their stuff. The menu is an interesting blend of Kiwi pub classics and Japanese cuisine. Must tries include the popular steamed dumplings and Karaage (Japanese fried chicken), Donburi rice bowls and Japanese curries (served with rice or fries if you will!) You can still order a Speight’s on tap and a classic beef burger or fish and chip meal if you prefer - either way, you won’t be disappointed!
If you’re feeling casual and in need of some serious flavour, delicious tequila and bright and breezy service head along to Blenheim’s newest little eatery, Little Amigo’s. Tucked away in the Blenheim suburb of Redwoodtown, you won’t be disappointed you went off the beaten track to find this joint. With a simple menu including spicy jalapeno poppers, refreshing ceviche and their delicious range of tortillas, quesadillas, burritos and desserts all served up in an unpretentious and friendly atmosphere, there’s no better way to enjoy a night out with friends and family.
If you’re looking for fresh, delicious Thai and Vietnamese flavours, you can’t go past the perennial favourite, Lemongrass on Maxwell Road. Established by co-owners Bu-nga Krataitong and Nuttavut Rodsienglum who have many years of restaurant experience between them, Lemongrass offers innovative and fresh Asian fusion cuisine that is sure to delight your senses. The menu is based on the best local ingredients with a minimum of cooking – for a fresh and healthy flavour hit. It’s no wonder it’s super popular with locals - bookings are highly recommended here.