Oamaru Restaurants, New Zealand. Pubs and Cucina.

Another little room in the Criterion Hotel, Oamaru

I was so captivated by the quaint town of Oamaru in the South Island of New Zealand that I plan to return there one day to ‘loiter with intent’. This town deserves a week of strolls, dining and waiting for the light to fall on those historic and evocative limestone buildings. I’ve found a nice pub to stay in; I’ve done my homework. The Criterion Hotel, built in 1877, ticks all the right boxes for me. It is well situated in the Victorian precinct, with rooms at a sensible price and a toasty fire to sit by. The decor is just lovely and the food is very good too.

A tasty Speghts Pale ale served by Mr T.
A cleansing ale served by a gentleman.

We began our two-week road trip of the Eastern, Southern and Central half of New Zealand’s South Island in this extraordinary town. Our first day was memorable, deserving a fine beer and a lunch in this old and quiet establishment of note.

Following the lunch at the Criterion with a long walk through the town and its extensive park, we returned to the Victorian precinct in the evening to feast at Oamaru’s fine dining establishment, Cucina 1871. As the name suggests, this restaurant is Italian, but with a modern New Zealand twist, while the dessert menu is classic French. I ordered an entrée of scallops on a bed of polenta. This was a sensational small dish of creamy white polenta, a hard to source ingredient, topped with four lightly cooked fat scallops, and a puddle of brown butter sauce which included deep-fried capers. It was not a dish I was happy to share! For mains, we both ordered the squid ink pasta with local littleneck clams, or vongole, in a gentle garlic sauce. The charming woman who worked and most likely owned this restaurant mentioned that the desserts were made by a chef trained in patisserie. This is code for no sharing. They were sensational. A perfect little apple Tarte Tatin for me,  and a Creme Brulee for him, along with a small pot of something chocolaty on the side. We shared a bottle of Chard Farm Pinot Gris, a delightful wine from Central Otago. It was a fitting start to a memorable New Zealand voyage.

Cucina in Oamaru
Cucina in Oamaru

This meal was independently paid for. I rarely post restaurant reviews but both these establishments in Oamaru deserve high praise.

The Criterion Hotel, 3 Tyne St, Oamaru.  http://www.criterionhotel.co.nz/

Cucina 1871, 1 Tees St Oamaru. http://www.cucina1871.co.nz/

A selfie or sorts. Cucina, Oamaru, New Zealand
A rare selfie of sorts. Through the window of Cucina 1871, Oamaru, New Zealand

12 thoughts on “Oamaru Restaurants, New Zealand. Pubs and Cucina.”

  1. I enjoyed reading the review… so lovely was the virtual experience via your words and pics. It’s wonderful to celebrate and praise good food and establishments 😊
    The food looks delicious. Sharing plates is good but there’s an economy of scale… if the food is really good, I want mine… all mine, and maybe a just taste of the other too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know what you mean Dale- Sometimes small plates need to be savoured alone, as much as you want to share with your beloved, food lust gets in the way.


  2. I shouldn’t have sat down to the computer hungry. Yum. Apple Tarte Tatin is one of my all time favourite dishes in the world. We are looking at our trip to NZ now. Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saved you the accommodation brochure for the south island which lists all accommodation in the south island. There are many places with kitchens, apartments, but most of these are costly. I’ll send it to you. Also, unless you cook most days, carrying all the bits and pieces for meals can be wasteful.
      I plan to keep posting on New Zealand for a few weeks- so many more places to tempt you Ardys.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt intimidated by the road into Chard Farm, Lisa. Have you see it? It looked like a goat track and with our 7.2 metre long van…. sadly no. But I must say, Chard Farm wine is my top NZ wine, not cheap bu so divine.

      Liked by 1 person

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