When was the last time you considered Remuera's Orakei Road come date night? If your response is "never" we don't blame you. Chances are you're simply yet to meet the charming little bistro set to change all that.
Holding pride of place in the much-lauded Orakei Bay Village – a seaward warehouse neighbouring the Orakei train station – you'll discover the unassuming, timber-clad Orakei Bay Bistro. Once dubbed The Barnacle, you'd be forgiven for any confusion. The recently rebranded bar and eatery is managed by the team from Brother's Beer, the popular watering hole located right next-door.
For locals, this is a long time coming. Those based in Remuera were previously forced to make the great pilgrimage across town to Ponsonby for a bistro menu this considered. During our visit, the weather outside is dreary and it's the perfect time for that much-needed glass of red and an indulgent, seasonal menu. If, like us, you're searching for a locale that boasts both ambience and accessibility, then this is it.
Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by the friendly staff and shown to your cosy, Nantucket-style booth, the seaside decor and interior comfortably suits the eatery's Orakei Basin location. Dimly lit, gorgeously cosy and with a tasty menu to match, we settle in for an evening of pure feasting.
When it comes to the ever-changing menu, think fresh Bluffies, a stellar local and international wine list and a hearty line-up of must-try sides like the triple-cooked duck fat potatoes, chef Sara Simpson marks Autumn's arrival with crowd-pleasing dishes. The classics, like the lamb chops, served with a braised neck and leek pithivier, roast garlic purée and rosemary salt, are done right, while the Brussels sprouts and beetroot have made a welcome return to the menu.
Seafood-lovers will revel in rustic hero dishes like the southern clams, pot roasted in a flavoursome bacon broth with sweet corn, smoked garlic butter and chives. While the market fish, pan-fried with wafer-thin crispy skin, is served ‘à la Française’ on a medley of clams and sweet peas. If you're going full Kiwi, we suggest opting for the classic beer-battered fish and chips, and wash it all down with a Brother's Beer lager.
Orakei Bay Bistro (or OBB, if you're in the neighbourhood) offers refined, classic bistro-style fare in an area that was otherwise devoid. It makes perfect sense here and despite a first run under another name, appears to have finally found its footing as a deserving little local with a menu that ticks every box. Bring on Autumn, we say.
Orakei Bay Bistro,
Orakei Bay Village,
228 Orakei Road,
Tuesday to Saturday: 6pm until late, brunch available from 11am on Friday and Saturday.