New Caledonian cuisine ranges from delicate island style meals to the very best of French fine dining and haute cuisine. After all, what else would you expect from a French nation? There’s even an Escoffier cooking school in New Caledonia, highlighting the important of quality food to the country. Here are our picks for the top places to dine in Noumea.
Au P'tit Café
Gastropub, Restaurant, French, European
Au P’tit Café has a unique culture and theme – each week, they offer four different selections for mains and dessert. The ethos of Au P’tit Café is to respect one’s body and health, by eating healthy and seasonal products. By changing up the menu each week, it allows the team to be creative with their culinary skills as well as create meals based on seasonal produce and what is best at that time. The commitment to staff wellbeing is also impressive – the restaurant is only open Tuesday to Friday, to give staff a full three days off work each week. Wouldn’t it be nice if all employers were like this?
Le Faré du Palm Beach, Noumea | @ Ashwin Vaswani / Unsplash
This beachfront cafe in Anse Vata is a favourite among locals and tourists, and in 2017, celebrates its 30th birthday. Specialties include a traditional American breakfast, cocktails of the day, house burgers and the famous La Bananiere – banana waffles served with hot chocolate sauce and whipped cream. It’s a friendly, open-air restaurant with views out to the promenade for ideal people-watching, there’s free wifi (just ask for the password), and staff speak both English and French.
Dining at Le Roof is an experience in itself. This overwater bungalow-style restaurant offers a mix of New Caledonian and French cuisine with a gorgeous ocean outlook. There’s a fish viewing area in the centre of the establishment, and often during the evenings, dolphins are seen swimming nearby. From foie gras and escargots (snails) to freshly caught local seafood such as crayfish and prawns, Le Roof fuses the best of French tastes with local island flavours. The dessert menu is the same style with sweet treats from the Pacific as well as traditional French desserts such as creme brûlée.
Walking into Chez Toto in Noumea’s Latin Quarter is like walking into a Parisian café. It’s a cute little bistro that offers authentic French cuisine in a warm and friendly environment. Popular with both locals and tourists, it pays to book a table as it fills up quickly for dinner. It is a bistro, not fine dining, but true to traditional French establishments and quality food. The escargots are a must-try dish.
Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, French, Seafood, Oceanian
L'Hippocampe, Noumea | Courtesy of Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts
L’Hippocampe is the signature restaurant within Le Meridien Noumea, nestled among the gardens in a relaxed and peaceful setting. Fusing New Caledonian cuisine with French flair, L’Hippocampe is memorable dining venue thanks to its colonial style rooms in a garden setting. With a strong focus on using local produce and ingredients, this establishment offers customers an elegant and fine dining experience and varied menu from classic French dishes included pork filet mignon and escargots, to freshly caught fish and crab.
Situated within the Chateau Royal Beach Resort and Spa, La Pirogue specialises in seafood. With views out to the lagoon and garden area, La Pirogue is an elegant and romantic establishment offering diners a true taste of the Pacific. Popular seafood dishes include a homemade seafood casserole, tuna tartar and a very island-style fashion of prawns and pineapple in rum and coconut milk.
This delightful bakery is a must-visit establishment as it’s the oldest bakery in Noumea. Known for its charming pastries, breads and of course macarons, the bakers are there from 2.30am every morning, preparing and making 20 kilograms of croissants! One of their specialty chocolates is a heart-shaped chocolate called Coeurs de Voh, which is a famous location in New Caledonia where mangroves have naturally formed into the shape of a heart.