A newly opened restaurant on Ponsonby Toad, the Blue Breeze Inn quickly earned a reputation for high quality, creative modern Chinese food. With chef Che Barrington and restaurateur Mark Wallbank at the helm, the Blue Breeze wows customers and critics with its innovative menu and fabulous service. But don’t let the food steal the show – the restaurant’s Pacifica design deserves a special mention.
“I wanted to do a Chinese restaurant but I didn’t want it to look Chinese in the traditional sense,” Wallbank said. “Also, I wanted the Tiki to be the guardian angel of the restaurant [and he had to have] a fat belly and a happy smile.”
A wall of windows helps create the islander atmosphere. On a hot day the windows let in the sunshine and cool breeze. The ceiling and wall behind the bar are painted with palm trees, adding to that tropical feeling.
The absolutely unique patterning of the upholstery on the banquettes lends an unpredictable splash of colour.
“You want it to be slightly garish,” Wallbank laughed.
The colours actually compliment one another, and make the dining room look even more alive. The design accents the “sharing style menu.” You’re sharing your food and your space.
“These days the only way I want to dine is sharing style. There’s no food envy here! I think the closeness creates a better atmosphere. It forces people out of their comfort zones,” Wallbank said.
The beautiful, rich golden brown tables, chairs, bar and chef’s pass counter are all made from Brazilian ash, rated the most sustainable wood. The lampshades are made from recycled material. Some tables have a basket style shade made from old codfish nets, and others are made from Javanese water pots (with brilliant little drill holes to let light out the sides). The blown glass chandelier above the maître’d desk is an antique from the 1960s Wallbank brought over from Sydney.
“I didn’t anticipate how much people would embrace the Pacifica theme,” Wallbank said. “They really love it, as long as it’s done properly. We forget we’re part of the Pacific. You don’t need to go somewhere else to be on a Pacific island. We need to embrace it more here.”
Words: Brittany Jordt
Photos: Max Currie
The Blue Breeze Inn
146 Ponsonby Road
Reservations call 09 360 0303