ABOUT PALATE

OUR TEAM

MAT MCLEAN </BR>
 OWNER/ HEAD CHEF
MAT MCLEAN
OWNER/ HEAD CHEF
Mat McLean is regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading chefs and Palate is one of New Zealand’s most awarded restaurants. After gaining professional qualifications from Waikato Polytechnic Mat was awarded a scholarship to work in the UK, where he gained invaluable work experience at two of London’s most prestigious restaurants; Leith (1 Michelin star) and The Capital Hotel (2 Michelin stars). Following a stint in Melbourne as Head Chef at the Middle Brighton Baths (a 1 hat restaurant) he returned to New Zealand to establish Palate in 2005. Mat is a chef with highly developed technical skills, who’s committed to cooking with seasonal, local produce. He is not afraid to experiment with flavours and textures.
LARISSA Muller </BR>
part owner/RESTAURANT MANAGER
LARISSA Muller
part owner/RESTAURANT MANAGER
Palate’s restaurant manager and part owner, Larissa Muller has been at Palate since 2013. Originally from Brazil Larissa has called New Zealand home since 2006. With extensive experience in hospitality, Larissa is a certified sommelier, currently studying for an international-standard sommelier qualification. Larissa is responsible for Palate’s highly regarded wine list, with its focus on the best vintages from New Zealand’s wine regions, as well as some beauties from the rest of the world. There is always something special in Palate’s cellar.

ABOUT PALATE

Palate is a Hamilton culinary institution, independently owned and operated by locally trained chef Mat McLean since 2005. Mat opened Palate as a modest 45-seater restaurant in Victoria St’s south-end, aiming for something in the style of Melbourne’s relaxed and fun eateries where he’d previously worked. He built a strong following and seven years later he moved Palate north to bigger premises, an 80-seater in the city’s heritage broadcasting building on Alma St, overlooking Waikato River.

In 2024 Palate made its final move to SkyCity Hamilton sitting in the heart of Hamilton’s main street. Owners Mat and Larissa see the move as part of the evolution of Palate and an opportunity to offer Waikato diners more.  The restaurant is now open Tues – Thurs for lunch, Tues – Sat for dinner, and everything in between on Fridays.  The new venue offers some distinct spaces, from the chef table where you have front row seats to the action in the kitchen, to the casual couches where you can enjoy a tipple and tasty tidbit while watching the world go by.  Then of course there is the dining room with its distinct calm and classic Palate feel.

Mat cooks from scratch each day, he cooks with the seasons, and he describes his food as “complicated simplicity”. It is produce-driven and highly innovative but not fine dining: he wants customers to feel at home, to pick up a lamb cutlet in their fingers, to mop up the last bit of sauce, and to laugh out loud as they enjoy a night out.

Provenance and sustainability are important at Palate and Mat has tramped farms horticulture blocks and beaches to learn first-hand about the food he cooks. His menus showcase the best of the Greater Waikato’s bounty of fruits, vegetables, truffles, meats, seafood, and cheese. Other quality suppliers from the rest of the country are brought onboard as needed.

From its small start, Palate has collected more culinary awards than you can poke a fork at. Mat is acknowledged as one of the country’s top chefs, known for his contemporary flavours, his strong technical skills, his continuing ability to surprise and delight his customers, and for Palate’s thoughtful wine cellar, now in Larissa’s capable hands. Mat is a three-time winner of Cuisine magazine’s Good Food Awards’ regional restaurant of the year, and he has earned Cuisine’s coveted two-hat rating three times.

Palate’s longevity and creativity is particularly notable in a hotly competitive industry, Mat and Larissa put this down to valuing their staff and their customers, listening to feedback, and adapting to changing times, and above all creating the kind of restaurant where they’d like to eat themselves.

OUR SUPPLIERS

The ethos of our food; provenance, seasonality, simplicity

BOOTLEG BREWERY

BOOTLEG BREWERY

Bootleg was started in November 2016, and was born to brew great beer.
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ZAROA

ZAROA

Situated on New Zealand's oldest organic farm in Shelly Beach, Kaipara Heads, Zaroa take pride in producing naturally processed, clean label meats.
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MEYER CHEESE

MEYER CHEESE

The roots of Meyer Cheese trace back to a small village in the Netherlands, where Ben and Fieke visited a monastery producing handmade cheese.
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THE GRUMPY BAKER

THE GRUMPY BAKER

The Grumpy Baker is born out of a lifetime in the New Zealand baking industry.
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COASTAL LAMB

COASTAL LAMB

Salt laden winds continually dust the herb filled pastures Costal Lamb lambs graze on.
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GREENSTONE CREEK BEEF

GREENSTONE CREEK BEEF

Premium grass-fed New Zealand beef, hand selected and aged for exceptional tenderness and taste.
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KAIMAI GREENS

KAIMAI GREENS

Grown in real organic soil with real nutrients under real sunlight.
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SOUTHERN FRESH

SOUTHERN FRESH

Over 20 years ago, Southern Fresh Foods was established in the heart of the Waikato by the Dunn family.
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OVER THE MOON DAIRY

OVER THE MOON DAIRY

Over The Moon are very innovative cheesemakers, we love using their cheese!
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Clos Marguerite

Clos Marguerite

Clos Marguerite is a small family-owned vineyard which is the fulfilment of a dream and the result of a long journey.
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AWARDS / REVIEWS

RESERVATIONS

Tables are allocated for 2 Hours dining time.
Groups over 8 people please contact us directly.
Kitchen Table Bookings must be done over the phone
For any queries please contact us on 078342921 or via e-mail on palate.restaurant@xtra.co.nz