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.
Palate’s restaurant manager, Larissa Muller, is nowadays a shareholder in the business.
Larissa, from Brazil, has been at Palate since 2013; she has long experience in hospitality and
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.
Likewise, there is always something special on the plate. Palate offers an a la carte menu as
well as a five-course degustation menu, and a unique seven-course kitchen table
experience. 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 is 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 on
board 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 say they value their staff and their customers enormously, they listen to
feedback, they adapt to changing times, and above all they operate the kind of restaurant
where they’d like to eat themselves.
Palate’s dining area
The dining area seats up to 80 guests for lunch or dinner.
We can cater for private or corporate functions of up to 100 guests. For further information go to Functions.
We also offer set menus for groups of more than 12 guests.
Kitchen table menu
Enjoy our seven-course degustation, created by the chefs every night with an option of matching wines, on our kitchen table. You are located opposite the kitchen pass, with the opportunity to see our kitchen team in action during a busy service. A truly unique opportunity to see ‘behind the scenes’. The kitchen table menu is $170 per person with matching wine an additional $80 per person. Booking in advance is essential.
The cellar room seats a maximum of six guests. Enjoy the intimate atmosphere in our red wine cellar with your own view of the restaurant. This is the perfect environment for diners that require a private setting for their party.