Plato Cafe

4 star rating 50 reviews

Restaurant location map

03 4774235

2 Birch St, Dunedin Central, Dunedin

  European, Cafe
Dinner: Mon - Sun 6pm - Late Brunch / Lunch: Sun 11am - Late

Reviews for Plato Cafe

4 star rating
by Machine NZ
5 months ago

Had dinner here two nights ago with three work colleagues. I see there are lots of different reviews about this place. I have eaten here a few times. Did not find an issue with the heating, it was a cold night but they had a fire going. Service was good and the food was a high standard. My colleagues were all from overseas and we all enjoyed the meal. Only real issue was there are too many choices on the menu. Happy to recommend this place.

3 star rating
by M F
6 months ago

We have been to Platos a number of times over the years and it is fair to say that it was one of our favourite restaurants in Dunedin. We went last night with a group of friends and the place is starting to look a bit tired and the table and chairs we were on were a bit worse for wear (the arm rest on one of our chairs was broken). Apart from the specials the menu hasn't really changed much. We had duck livers (fairly tasteless), flounder with lemon and caper butter (okay but sauce over cooked and salty), rump steak (not cooked as requested), stuffed lamb hearts (very good), Liquorice ice cream (very good) and cheesecake (good). The service was a bit random but very friendly and they have a pretty poor wine list but you can take your own wine but they charge a corkage/screwtop fee of $10. Cost $75 per head.

2 star rating
by Chris
Jun 21, 2014

This is the most over-rated restaurant in Dunedin. I sometimes get dragged there by work colleagues; have had about 2 good meals and 6 bad ones. I once took 3 days to digest the fish I was served here, so last time plumped for the lamb. The lamb arrived cold, and the broccoli was yellow - clearly it had been out of the ground for 2 or 3 weeks before being served. I will try my best not to go back.

2 star rating
by Esjay
May 18, 2014

We heard about PLATO from friends for years so we were really looking forward to it. Maybe it was our overambitious expectations (but these have been slowly declining in Dunedin for a long time) but this is just another overpriced cafe. The decorum is tacky at best and certainly not what one would expect given Plato's reputation (and given the nature of the place the $10 corkage is a bit over the top). The service was fine but the food was average: we had fish cakes and pork belly as entrees (the pork was okay but the orange sauce ruined it), fish of the day and a steak as mains (note: you have to pay $6 extra just for some steamed vegetables - honestly!). To be fair nothing was horrible but nothing was great either and at "elite restaurant prices" and set in a basic cafe setting it just isn't worth it. Overall, at least on this one visit, PLATO has become just one more average, over-priced cafe in a city that should be aiming higher.

5 star rating
by Jennifer Jury
Mar 18, 2014

I cant find anything bad to say about this place! The Service is amazing,the food is amazing and there home brew beer is to die for!!
I have Been here 3 times now and can not find anything wrong at all! The owner is always walking around making sure everything is OK with everyone.
The amount of people they have through a night is amazing!!!!

Totally Totally AMAZING!!!

(I love the wee men on the table's)

1 star rating
by Sarah
Oct 05, 2013

Plato: have you ever heard of heating?

We all like to save money, but at the expense of your customers shivering? To help with this, I paid for a very expensive meal which was dreadfully dull and not even warm. I should have stayed at home.

5 star rating
by Rueben Skipper
Sep 25, 2013

This is one of my favourite restaurants in town. I love the homely kitschy atmosphere. The food is excellent and it's a great place to bring visitors because it is so unusual. This is really not a cafe but more closer to a fine dinning experience.

1 star rating
by Kevin
Jun 14, 2013

I can only imagine that the majority of reviewers who gave this anything but two stars must be members of staff or close family!

The place itself is cold and unwelcoming and the food was well below average - given the price they charge, it was WAY BELOW average.

Some idiot has decided that it would enhance the dining experience to have a wooden carving of a sailor on the tables - complete with springing p*nis as you lift it up. We watched in dismay as the table next to us tried in vain to discourage their 8/9 year old girl from playing with it throughout the meal.

The food!!

I had a simple Moroccan Lamb. How can you bugger that up? Simple, serve it cold and cover it in cumin power just before you serve it.

When I brought it to the attention of that evening's manager he showed no sign of concern and suggested that it might be a 'busy night'.

4 star rating
by Ben Wilden
Apr 11, 2013

Went with a group of friends for a catch up. Was really good. Cool we place, very quaint with lots of funny wee nick nacks about.
Service was good, good tap beer selection.
Food was also good. The squid as a starter was really yum and the surf and turf was decent as well. Steak was tender and lots of flavors.
Not sure what Phil M is on about bellow, perhaps its not everyones cup of tea but certainly a cool wee place for a decent meal thats for sure.

2 star rating
by Phil Mattocks
Feb 24, 2013

Don't believe the hype! Thoroughly disappointed, after hearing so much wonderful and impressive comments on the place and after wanting to visit it for myself for many years I finally got to go as my husband took me for my 40th birthday.
From the walking up to the place and being met with a load of junk outside to walking through the doors to the strong smell of pine o clean toilets! to actually entering to be met with an array of even more junk mind you each to there own I know a lot of people think this stuff is a wonderful addition so won't judge will wait for the food.

Slightly put off all ready with the over whelming different food smells coming from the kitchen and too me not mouth watering smells, still keep looking around at all the junk, wait for the food don't judge, I found the menu too expansive and too much too choose from and as for the poor waitress having to read and almost book on all the 'specials ' not on the menu. Had the ribeye simply did not like it very fatty piece of meat cooked correctly to what I asked but the flavour of the sauce not at all that inspiring. My husband's meal also left him disappointed we had been promised by so many of a fantastic meal, the best bit I'm afraid to say was the bottle of wine and complimentary bread! also if you want to be picky and small details I know but if you are selling your self as one of Dunedin's top restaurants the light over our table the bulb was blown, the waitress did not pour the wine correctly and spilled it and we have had better customer service in a lot more low profile establishments. Such a shame had such high expectations and was disappointing for my 40th birthday celebration :(

5 star rating
by Catherine May
Feb 22, 2013

Service was warm, friendly without being over familiar, and efficient. The server had an excellent knowledge of the menu, and was able to assist with wine matching recommendations, which were spot on. The food was served promptly, and was beautifully presented. My only complaint in regards to my meal was that I had ordered an entree instead of a main, so that I would have room for dessert, and it was so large that I struggled to finish it. It was the seafood tasting platter, which was heavenly, especially the clams, which tasted like tears of happiness, sweet and sea salty.
I still managed to finish most of my dessert, the cappucino brulee, which was so satisfyingly coffeeish, that I didn't feel the need for an after dinner flat white that I would normally have.
Love the retro kitsch decor, hope I get to come back again soon.

2 star rating
by Mike Wilson
Sep 04, 2012

I've been to Plato before and raved about it but my most recent experience was disappointing. We were a large group but I've seen them handle large groups incredibly well in the past. The service was generally very good but thats where it stopped. My food was, at best, average - chicken cooked a wee bit too long and the kind of the I had been eating in American Diners the week before but my partner's vegetarian meal (the only choice offered) was an odd mishmash of flavours that sounded 'interesting' when she ordered and turned out to be just plain bad. Out waitress was mortified when she found out but also said it was 'experimental' and that 'no-one had ever tried it'. What kind of restaurant puts a meal on the menu without tasting it themselves? Certainly not one that cares about the clients enjoyment of their food. In the end we didn't pay for her meal. They offered to cook something else but my partner declined as she would have been eating on her own by the time it arrived.
Also, if you are booked into the billiards room in winter. Watch out for the heater they use to try to get a little warmth into the room. It is a gas heater designed for use only in well vented spaces like marquees (makes a noise like a little rocket ship - all night). All our group complained of headaches the next day, whether they were drinking or not, I suspect as a result of that poorly ventilated heater.

5 star rating
by Jacqui S
Jul 28, 2012

This is my Aunts fav restaurant and I take her her every time I go home ( every couple of years). I had a brilliant experience 2 years ago and that was repeated again this month. The service was attentive and my meals delish. I will quite often have 2 entrees so that I can fit in dessert. Some restaurants don't grasp the idea that I would like one entree brought out with the mains. No problem here!!

1 star rating
by Joniid
Jun 30, 2012

The words that best some up Plato would be tacky, cold, overrated and over ambitious. God knows how this restaurant seems to be rated so highly by the locals. When you first enter Plato you get the impression you've just walked into a junk yard with all the various pieces of tat sprawlled about the place. A common misconception of the decor maybe that to some it seems quirky but the reality is that it's poorly thought out, cluttered and tacky. Which brings me to the menu which is in my opinion can be described in exactly the same way. There is too much going on not only in variety but in the dishes themselves. They seem to have deployed the tactic of the more ingredients you throw at a dish the better the results. Which is sadly untrue. I ordered the tuna steak which was over cooked on the outside and not at room temperature in the middle as it should be, it was served on what I can only describe as a mountain of Luke warm rice finished with a disgusting wisabe aioli. The service was fun in that it was like witnessing a bunch of circus clowns run a restaurant. At one point I howlled with laughter when two waiters came out with a huge fish chart poster and struggled to find all the differant variations of fish from the menu. If you do however still want to go to experience it for yourself make sure you wrap up because, like the food, it's very cold. This place is mascarading under the guise of quirky with an exotic menu. But don't be fooled.

5 star rating
by Liam O'Regan
Jun 21, 2012

We went to Plato Cafe during the RWC. We are Australian and were used to great seafood back at home, but we were mesmerized at the quality of seafood and how it was cooked. There were 5 of us so we ordered a separate dish each, we shared them and all were just wonderful. The food was cooked perfectly. The service was fantastic with one of the waiters being exceptionally helpful. Was worth every cent and more. When we next go to NZ this restaurant will be on top of the agenda.

5 star rating
by Steven Townsend
Jun 15, 2012

Plato is by far our restaurant of choice in Dunedin. The food is of excellent quality and decent sized portions. You do not leave feeling hungry.

What I really love is that the menu is tweaked regularly, I assume to keep things interesting. For example, we visited Plato three times within a period of around 6 months and each time the Salmon (my favourite) was served with slightly different garnishes and sauces.

I will also be suggesting Plato to my employer for team work functions.

Keep it up team!

5 star rating
by Paul
May 17, 2012

Just a quick note to thank Plato for providing a benchmark standard when it comes to service. Last night we were given some of the warmest and accommodating service I've experienced. Thank you for your professionalism and flexibility. P.S Your food was also very good!!

4 star rating
by Ore
Apr 04, 2012

This is my favorite restaurant in town. They do not try to make fancy food, mains are not too sophisticated but they are always fresh and excellent. I also appreciate the fact that they do not try to copy French or Italian cuisine (I am french) but they offer typical kiwi products and they change the menu very often to respect seasonal products. The selection of wine is excellent, the Plato noir has an excellent value for money. Desserts are also always very good, waiters very professional and the owner is very nice.
I would just recommend to avoid the brunch on Sunday because there is not much choice and mains are a bit too simple.

5 star rating
by Mia
Jan 19, 2012

wow we had the time of our life!it was just amazing. service fab,food exquisite and place gorgeous!i had a meal that the chef kindly cobbled together which was garlic prawns,potatoes in garlic sauce and sole fillet all amazing!then for dessert i had the best self saucing chocolate pudding with vanilla bean ice cream,cream and custard.
honestly i have no bad comments for this place i could eat here everyday and i am pretty shocked with the negative comments i think you are talking to the wrong restaurant.
from the girl that said the table felt like the sea :)

4 star rating
by Nofam
Nov 23, 2011

It really is hard to find a fault with Plato - the Kiwiana style may not be to everyone's taste (especially foreign visitors), but the food and service is nigh-on impeccable; a well thought-out, well-executed menu with plenty of options (the gnocchi with wilted spinach, walnuts & blue cheese is a standout), a nice variety of drinks, fantastic coffee, and prompt, friendly service. Extra points too for understanding the importance of good bread!

An understated, yet superb restaurant than Dunedinites should be proud of - and judging by the numbers there on a cool Monday night recently, we are.

5 star rating
by Katy
Oct 30, 2011

I cannot fault the absolutely AMAZING meal we had at Plato on Friday night. Squid for an entree,which was just beautiful! For mains my partner had steak and I had chicken - both meals were absolutely superb! Flavours were AMAZING! Although I was full, we got a raspberry and coconut cake to take away and eat later...once I had a taste of it I couldn't wait til later! It was the nicest dessert I have ever had from a restaurant - seriously! This is our third time at Plato, and it has always been nice, but Friday was my favourite meal out yet! Service was polite and timely too :) Yay, Plato!

5 star rating
by Fraser
Sep 13, 2011

Had always wanted to go to this restaurant as had heard great things. I was not disappointed. I had the squid as an entree which was amazing and will be sure to return to have it again, my main was blue cod and once again amazing. Friendly service, however the most appealing thing is the decor.

5 star rating
by Megan Horsham
Aug 15, 2011

I have been to Plato on two occasions and have loved both visits. On Saturday evening- I had the most delicious whitebait omelet with free range eggs and kelp coated blue cod which was devine. The service was great and we were very well looked after. To finish we shared the baked lemon cheesecake which was lemony and fresh. A perfect way to end the meal. I would recommend Plato to anyone, especially for a treat or celebration.

2 star rating
by Amelia Danvers
Jul 20, 2011

I have been twice now and I really wanted to like this place but the food is just so-so. There's not enough flavour. For example, I ordered a curried fish and it was so bland it may as well have been boiled fish. Everyone knows that if you order something 'curried' then it's going to be spicy and full of flavour, so why on earth take all that out of it? Also, service wasn't great - noticed a senior waitress rolling her eyes and making faces about tables to other staff, which is fine - but not if customers can see you doing it.

2 star rating
by Rachel Shirley
Jun 05, 2011

Was expecting a little more 'oomph' from this restaurant. The service was excellent; unfortunately the service was let down by the food which was just plain average. Lacked flavour and lacked that special something which would bring me back here again anytime soon.

1 star rating
by Peter.B.
Feb 06, 2011

All I can say is that this is no longer the restaurant it once was, the place now looks like a junk cellar and the staff are longer friendly and professional.
Our meals arrives 40 minutes after we ordered,when we made a polite inquirey after 30 minutes we were told the chef was "in a bad mood".The fish was undercooked and cold!!
My wife wanted a word with the chef and walkes over to the kitchen only to find him texting and was ignored.NEVER AGAIN.

5 star rating
by Anna
Dec 08, 2010

Wow. Best restaurant I've been to in Dunedin. Service was fantastic and the food was even better. I had the lamb and it was delicious and perfectly cooked. The wine list is also amazing with lots of Central Otago Pinot Noir (what I like to see)

4 star rating
by Brenda
Oct 01, 2010

Having dined twice at Plato in the last month, I would have to say its quickly becoming our most favourite restaurant in Dunedin. Food is consistantly good. Service is great too.

5 star rating
by Kate Lawson-Bradshaw
May 21, 2010

Huge fan of Plato. I have been there 3 times now and was not disappointed on any of those visits. My fish was cooked to perfection and the berry crumble was delicious. The service is also always fantastic, the waiters are attentive and are very personable. Plato is probably my favourite restaurant in Dunedin.

4 star rating
by Hamish Caithness
May 02, 2010

We have been to Plato many times since it opened and have always had great dining experiences. We had a meal there last week - no complaints about service; food was a little disappointing compared to the high standards experienced in the past - one consistent complaint from our group of eight diners was the servings were too generous; my squid entree was absolutely perfectly cooked but was almost large enough to be a main; my tuna main had flavours that were mismatched and was also too large - two decent sized tuna steaks with two tuna nigiri sushi is too much food. I guess this is better than leaving the restaurant hungry but the portions were so large it was off-putting when the meals arrived. My wife had Goan fish curry and didn't like it much.
We will return though as this restaurant has been among the best in Dunedin for the past few years. I just hope they're not starting to rest on their laurels

1 star rating
by Southern Belle
Apr 30, 2010

Must say this place is very over rated. Not deserving of the Cuisine award. No positive aspects of the whole experience. Who really wants to sit in a place that looks and smells like an opportunity shop. Would never return and would not recommend.

4 star rating
by Korora
Apr 20, 2010

Having just had a disappointing experience at another high-end local restaurant, I was reminded how much I like Plato, especially for fish. The food is generally fresh, well prepared, and interesting without containing too many competing flavours (the downfall of many local ambitious chefs). Service is informal but competent and friendly, and I like the kitsch decor and the reminders that this was once a seamen's hostel.

5 star rating
by Jack Black
Jan 09, 2010

We had trouble getting a booking, but were seated in the upstairs lounge bar for drinks before our table was ready. The staff had a excellent knowledge of the wine. For entrees we had the pork belly and three cheese mushrooms, main was goan fish curry (I’ve been to Goa, India and this was an exceptional interpretation of this dish) and pan fried salmon with tasty gnocchi, with this we had a side order of wok cooked veggies in soy. We were pretty full by this point but managed to squeeze in the coffee brulee which ended the meal marvellously. Highly recommended and excellent service.

1 star rating
by Margaret Knox
Oct 28, 2009

A few weeks ago my husband and I had dinner there. I had the monk fish which was really boring. Nothing really wrong with it, but I could have eaten it at home alone watching TV.

My husband had the tuna which was really bad. They had some Indian spice on it and he was unable to eat it. I tried it and did not like it as well.

The worst part of the dinner was when I told the hostess ( maybe owner) that our dinner was a disappointment she got very flustered and grabbed the dishes off our table scattering silverware all over the floor. She left in a big huff, practically asked us to leave, and oh yeah...charged us $140 for food we could not eat.

So who ever you are hostess/owner. Try being nice to your customers. We will not be back.

Margaret Knox

2 star rating
by Cheryl Campbell
Sep 25, 2009

Had high hopes for this place but it was pretty average. I am from Wellington so have high standards when it comes to food. The food was just 'OK'. I felt there was some strange combinations on the menu also. But the thing that will ensure I never go back was the rude chef. He was at the front desk when we arrived and looked like he didn't want to help us at all (how was I do know who he was) and then came out once we got our food as he thought we thought something was wrong with it (my partner was eating a whole flounder for the first time so was a bit nervous as to how best to eat it). Maybe he just has a strange sense of humour, or maybe he is just rude!

5 star rating
by Stefanie
Jul 28, 2009

I'm slightly suspicious of the negative reviews too. I'm quite a regular at Plato, and have been for the past..5 years or so. The food has ALWAYS been excellent (especially all the seafood and the espresso cake.. yums!), and service ALWAYS impeccable. Definitely my favourite place in Dunedin...there isn't even a close second!

5 star rating
by Jenny McNally
Jul 20, 2009

Excellent meal and great surroundings...definitely recommend.

5 star rating
by Matt
Jun 01, 2009

delicious food. amazing staff. left me eager for more

2 star rating
by Stephen
May 31, 2009

A very Interesting quirky place, very difficult to find and nobody appeared to know where it was! Well we finally found it under the bridge and were not very welcomed by the Maitre D on the night, even though we had rung and tried to book the day before!

Once we got there the food was very good even thugh two of the menu items advertised were not available on the night. I had the Paua for an entree which was very nice and the steak for a main which was ok? Will we return again? Not to sure!

5 star rating
by Jemima Pedro
Apr 09, 2009

Not sure what the negative reviewers above are talking about - slightly suspicious of them actually, as this is a Cuisine award winner which genuinely deserves the accolades.

Food always delicious, generous and atmosphere laid back and warmly welcoming (even for our 4-year-old girl). Nothing too much trouble, staff knowledgeable and friendly and food never too 'nouvelle' for my tastes, anyhow.

Top marks, Plato - don't change a thing.

5 star rating
by Clinton Rhodes
Mar 14, 2009

We had a christmas function at plato and found the service awesome and food devine.
We had the function room which has a nice atmosphere with the fire going and found the staff to be very freindly and helpfull would recommend to any one as this is a hidden treasure of dunedins.

5 star rating
by Mona
Nov 24, 2008

I recently went to this restaurant with friends as I am not from Dunedin. I then read this page afterwards. I agree with all the positive reviews as it was the best meal out I've had in a long time, and can only assume that the negative comments were made by people with some kind of axe to grind. We had a superb evening and found both the food and the staff fabulous. We couldn't fault it. I've never thought about it before but I can understand why a restaurant would not want a birthday cake brought in. After all, isn't it like bringing your own entree? We ate mainly fish; I ate squid and then salmon and found it cooked perfectly for my taste. Chocolate cake to die for. Wouldn't go anywhere else in Dunedin.

5 star rating
by David
Oct 20, 2008

Amazing service, absolutely delicious food, and a great atmosphere!
Most definately one of the top restuarants in Dunedin.

1 star rating
by Go Anywhere But
Oct 09, 2008

We went there for my husband's 30th. On ringing the restaurant (to check that they were open so I could drop off his birthday cake) I was told that firstly, I would be charged 'cakage', then later that I simply couldn't bring it. Their position being that they sold food. We weren't trying to take our own entrees! Isn't a birthday cake slightly different?! Unfortunately it was too late to go anywhere else. We'd always had nice meals there which is why we chose it. But could not believe that they would not allow a birthday cake to be brought!! Contrast this with ANY other restaurant I've ever taken a cake to and they are all more than willing to bring the cake out, light candles etc. My husband wrote a polite letter which has never been replied to, further arrogance. Sadly for them he works for a company that often entertains, and had gone to Plato frequently - won't be anymore.

1 star rating
by Suzy
Jul 20, 2008

Not very happyt!!!
Service shocking... I have never been spoken to by the chef in my whole life - told me to f*** off as was not satisfied with my meal.
VERY UNIMPRESSED The chef was stating that my fish was cooked correctly - no it wasnt and then told I wax the TYPE who complains about everything! I recommended them in the past but NOT NOW!!! Goodluck to you grumpy chef

2 star rating
by Elizabeta
Jul 02, 2008

For a high price, the food quality was pretty poor, not to mention EVERYTHING was undercooked - venison, salmon, and crayfish. Also, there were very strange combinations of flavors. However, the staff were great, but the meal took 2 full hours for 4 people.

5 star rating
by Tre Cool
Mar 11, 2008

i died from eating there food.
died and went to hevan that is!

5 star rating
by Andrew
Dec 14, 2007

Simply awesome! Great food, service and really nice environment. Simply the best in Dunedin!

5 star rating
by Liz Hurst
Dec 10, 2007

One of the best meals at a restaurant I have had since moving to Dunedin 3 years ago from overseas. It was refreshing to leave completely satisfied nor with the need to have a wee snack a couple of hours after finishing mains. Highly recommend the chicken main and the chocolate cake dessert. Make reservations - even packed on a Wednesday night!

5 star rating
by Grant Maitland
Nov 19, 2007

I really like Plato, great food, nice service, good philosopher. A fun quirky decor, very friendly and enjoyable place to go. Not to expensive considering the quality of food.