Esplanade Restaurant, St Clair | I love a great restaurant on the beach. There’s something about being seaside and eating amazing food that makes a dining experience even better.
I found the Esplanade Restaurant on St Clair Beach in Dunedin, mainly by accident. I had spent the afternoon wandering the beach, looking for sea lions and exploring the lighthouse walk, as any typical tourist would do. I had googled and seen some good reviews for the restaurant but in no way did they accurately describe how incredible the food was, nor the bustling and exciting atmosphere when you walk in.
This place is a local hot spot. It was packed! People everywhere. It’s a bustling restaurant inside, which you’d have no idea from the exterior. It just looked like the corner pub, really. Open the doors and you find a mass of people, food, and beverages. The place was humming! I was told there was a 20minute wait, which was fine with me – I was already hooked. I grabbed a wine (excellent international and local wine list – I recommend the chard and Gewurz) and sat outside to listen to the waves roll in while I waited.
Once seated, the challenge was choosing what to order!! There are so many delicious sounding items (and plates rushing by to other tables) that I didn’t know what to get. I was attempting to be gluten-free, so decided to skip the pizza, even though it looked incredible, smelt incredible and they had GF bases.
Instead, I ordered three dishes. For myself. Alone. And I ate them all. Happily. With beautiful wine.
For the entree, I enjoyed the carpaccio di salmone, orange, fennel, mint, capers. Fresh, light, flavorsome and delicious.
For my main, I devoured the risotto ai frutti di mare – prawn, mussel, clams, calamari. Another beautiful, light dish, cooked to perfection with plenty of fresh seafood.
For my…. next dish, caprese – tomato, mozzarella di bufala, basil, evo. Fresh, light, bright, amazing.
All of the dishes were beautifully executed, packed with flavor and delectable New Zealand produce. Some of the best food and wine I have enjoyed in New Zealand. I highly recommend a visit to St Clair and the Esplanade Restaurant.
Having visited Dunedin many times in the past few months, I was quite astounded to find that this beautiful beach area was so close (approx 10-15mins from the city centre) and that nobody had told me it was a must-see! Grab an uber and get there for a walk, sunset wines, and sensational food.