Our hospitality industry is in something of a state of flux after covid tried to kick the legs out from under it during 2020. But from the chaos has come innovation, openings and, sadly, a few closings. So, with all that in mind, we’re celebrating the new, the good and those who are stepping up to the plate in the first of our monthly food columns. Cheers to that!
Places to be, people to see
Auckland restaurant stalwarts Tony McGeorge and Krishna Botica (Cafe Hanoi, Saan, XuXu Dumpling Bar) have opened Ghost Street, a reimagining of the classic Beijing hole-in-the-wall eateries and featuring dishes from the cities of Chengdu and Xi’an.
Housed in the subterranean Britomart space where Cafe Hanoi enjoyed its successful 10-year run before moving to new digs, this 82-seat restaurant (plus an additional 44 seats in The Parlour private dining room from June 1) is embracing the shift from fine dining to more rustic culinary experiences.
“We're finding post covid lockdown that customers are yearning to dine as a way to connect with friends and family,” says McGeorge. “Traditional fine dining has been about hushed tones and a monastic appreciation for what's on the plate. Perhaps at the moment the dining experience is as much about the people experience as it is about the food experience.”
The Ghost Street kitchen is headed by executive chef Nathan Houpapa (Cafe Hanoi) and head chef Khai Yee “KK” Khor. On the menu you’ll find dishes including Biang Biang noodles from Xi’an, scallop wontons with Sichuan chilli oil and typhoon shelter soft-shell crab. ghoststreetakl.nz
Hawke’s Bay is beckoning and it’s promising feasting and frivolity at the eighth annual Winter F.A.W.C!. The food and wine classic runs over the four weekends in June. This year, it boasts 46 events, featuring the best of Hawke’s Bay food and drink offerings. From truffle hunting to vintage degustation and the Wine Studio Cinema Series, there’ll be something for everyone to wrap their laughing gear around.
Wairoa and Central Hawke’s Bay will be flaunting their wares with the Taste of Wairoa event at the Gaiety Theatre and a chef’s table event at historic Wallingford, hosted by owner Chris Stockdale.
New to the event this year is A Taste of F.A.W.C!, giving ticket holders a special rate at the region’s eateries for the month of June. fawc.co.nz
One for all you oenophiles, the annual Winetopia event is on in Wellington May 21-22, Auckland June 18-19 and Christchurch July 9-10. BusinessDesk wine writer Bob Campbell, MW, will present wine masterclasses alongside fellow Master of Wine Matt Deller and Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas. More than 60 wineries will be represented, many with their 2020 vintages, so it’ll be a cracker. winetopia.co.nz
A bite to eat?
Award-winning restaurateurs Sid and Chand Sahrawat have announced they've sold their award-winning fine dining Ponsonby eatery, Sidart to long-time friend and current head chef at Sid at The French Cafe, Lesley Chandra. The changeover will happen in September. In the meantime Sidart is serving a plant-based menu (alongside their usual fare) for the rest of May to celebrate the Eat Drink Love Ponsonby event (May 1-31). Choose from a five- or seven-course plant-based discovery menu with vegan wine matches.
From May 7 Botswana Butchery teams up with the good folk at Perrier Jouët to transform their Auckland waterfront mezzanine into a garden-inspired dining room for their six-course sharing menu with Champagne and a wine match, or a four-course menu with Perrier Jouët pairings.
Josh Emett’s Onslow in Auckland’s CBD is hosting a “slow food” wild game month in May. The renowned chef is also introducing a four-course Sunday lunch for autumn and winter, with the option to upgrade to a full wine match.
If you like some robust wine discussion with your meal, Hugo’s Bistro in Auckland is hosting a five-course dinner and matched wines with Marlborough winemaker Tamra Kelly-Washington on May 21.
Get your glad rags on for the Chateau Tongariro Hotel’s Roaring 20s-themed mid-winter three-course dining and drinks experience on June 26. Entertainment will be courtesy of the Rodger Fox Band and Erna Ferry.
Auckland’s Hunting Lodge is bringing some autumnal cheer to proceedings with its new Tapas Thursday. The menu features delicious morsels including chorizo cooked in cider, lamb kafta with harissa sour cream and caponata on crostini, all washed down with wines from the Hunting Lodge estate – our pick would be the seasonal albariño.
Parting is such sweet sorrow
BusinessDesk spoke with O’Connell Street Bistro owner Chris Upton moments before he locked the doors for the final time on the now-empty space that housed his award-winning restaurant for 24 years. One thing he is keeping, though, is his prized wine collection, which is going into storage.
Upton confirmed he’s “taking the winter and possibly the summer off, too” to regroup and plan his next move. “Whatever we do it’ll be in the restaurant business, though,” he says. We look forward to it.