There’s a hint of optimism in the air – with lockdowns behind us, the hospitality industry is finally getting the opportunity to flourish again and there’s a batch of new restaurant openings to discover this month, so tuck in.

We have take-off

Wellington’s Concord restaurant opened its doors last month in the 1960s Mibar Building in Victoria Street. Local restaurateurs Shepherd Elliott (Leeds Street Bakery) and Sean Golding (Golding’s Free Dive bar, Puffin) are behind the new eatery, which is open Wednesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. The ever-changing menu takes inspiration from the great dishes of 20th-century European bistro fare – hors d'oeuvres including shrimp cocktail and steak tartare, and entrees of Caesar salad triomphant and saucisson brioché. Mains include Scotch and eye fillet steaks, half a roast chicken, or eggplant schnitzel with mushroom sauce. And for dessert? Crêpes Suzette, of course.

Hippopotamus sommelier Florent Souche.


Hip, hip, hooray

May 26-27 sees QT Wellington’s Hippopotamus and Waiheke’s Tantalus Estate team up for a winemaker dinner, which features a five-course set menu from executive chef Jiwon Do, paired with a wine list curated by Hippopotamus sommelier Florent Souche and Tantalus winemakers Alex Perez and Gwilim Evans.

Hot, hot, hot

South American flavours reign supreme at new Auckland restaurant Milenta, which has opened in Victoria Park Market. An outdoor dining room is complemented by an outdoor kitchen, where dishes are cooked over fire and hot coals. Executive chef Elie Assaf (former head chef at Williams Eatery) has created a menu that heroes fresh, local ingredients which he works into some wonderful flavour combinations: pōhutukawa-smoked oysters; nectarines with burrata; okra with black sesame mole. Yes, please. 

K Road's new French tapas restaurant, Atelier. Photo: Babiche Martens/NZ Herald.


Ooh la la

K’ Road has a new French tapas restaurant called Atelier and the buzz around it is well deserved. Located in the old K’ Road Post Office building, the decor is warm, understated and inviting, perfect for settling in for a long, lazy meal. French expats Kélian Monteil and Alexis Petit, the co-owners and executive chefs, have prepared a sophisticated menu including oysters, charcuterie, smoked trevally rillettes; duck hearts with slow-cooked cherries and pinot noir jus; and braised beef cheek pavé. Room for a flat-white profiterole? Definitely. Save room for the excellent selection of New Zealand and French cheeses on offer, though. Open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday and lunch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

A taste of Italy

Downtown Auckland has a new kid on the block with the recent opening of Deli di Bossi in the Pacifica Laneway in Commerce Street. Owner Jenna Carter and executive chef Shaun Dowling serve up an authentic Italian street food menu, including calzone, pizza, generously stuffed sandwiches (we liked the Fungo, with mushroom and fresh ricotta), salumi boards with bread and sottolio (vegetables in olive oil), fresh juices and a good cup of Joe. 

La Fuente's Edmundo Farrera.



For one of the best nights out in Auckland, head to Edmundo Farrera’s wine and mezcal bar and kitchen, La Fuente, in Snickel Lane, Customs Street East. Farrera arguably knows more about mezcal (a distilled alcoholic spirit from Mexico made from the heart of the agave plant, with a delicious, smoky flavour) than anyone in New Zealand, and he’s a great host to boot. Chef Javier Carmona serves up a knockout bar menu – think squid ink crackling, house-cured ceviche and cheese and jalapeño croquettes, plus a grill menu that changes daily. Farrera has built up a finely curated range of wine and mezcal for La Fuente and recently added the award-winning mezcal range from The Lost Explorer, an artisanal producer from Mexico’s Oaxaca region which scooped double gold, gold and silver at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. 

Pub grub

Former Amano chef Ezra Wisaksono is now running the kitchen at new gastro-pub The Bridgman in Auckland’s Dominion Road. The menu is good traditional pub fare – think lamb ribs, spaghetti, a “dirty” burger and sirloin steak. It’s all done well and the atmosphere is fun and lively, plus they do a great Negroni. 

Raise the bar

Ima in Auckland’s Fort Street has just opened its new bar and a private event space. Open Wednesday to Saturday, it has bench seating and large tables designed to comfortably seat 25-45 guests, plus the bar can seat another 16, with room for others to stand. A new bar-snack menu offers tempting morsels including kibbeh (meatballs) with tahini, Balkan crispy cheese sticks, and sabich loaded fries with fried crispy eggplant. Wash it down with a delicious cocktail; first on our list is the hibiscus margarita. 

Food and film

After a difficult couple of years, Winter FAWC! in the Hawke’s Bay is back with a hiss and a roar. An unashamed celebration of the best food and wine from the region, the festival is hosting more than 45 events across four weekends (June 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 and 24-26). 

With chef collaborations, workshops, degustation dinners, wine tastings, five truffle events and a film festival, it’s a veritable feast for gourmands. Hawke’s Bay Tourism CEO Hamish Saxton says Winter FAWC! will be one of the best yet. “There’s no better time for a celebration and we can’t wait to see foodies from all over New Zealand experiencing Hawke’s Bay’s incredible chefs, restaurateurs, venues, producers, artisans and event specialists.”

Follow Jacqui @jacqui.loates.haver