The Rise and the Geyser are both a statement and a commitment to the well-being of the planet.
Leah La Hood, ABC Business Consultants Ltd
Auckland’s very own city village, Parnell — also the city’s very first suburb — is experiencing something of a renaissance. “It’s a well-known fact that the hospitality sector is one of the first to take advantage of resurgences in town centres,” says Cheryl Adamson, Parnell Business Association general manager. “It’s as if they have a nose for more than exceptional cuisine.”
Fast catching up with the likes of Ponsonby and Takapuna, Cheryl says Parnell is finally realising its gastronomical potential: “Following on the heels of front runners 46 & York and the roaring success of Woodpecker Hill, some areas of Parnell such as St Georges Bay Road are quadrupling their hospitality offering in the wake of increased commercial development.”
Business is booming too, in The Rise, a new food precinct located in the Geyser, New Zealand’s first 6 Green Star Building. “Tenancies are still available,” says leasing agent Leah La Hood of ABC Business Consultants Ltd, “but only to socially responsible operators who share the building’s ethos of conscious business.”
“We are in-line with international hospitality trends of hyper-local sourcing and environmental sustainability,” says Leah. “The Rise and the Geyser are both a statement and a commitment to the well-being of the planet. We welcome vendors who are travelling the same journey.”
Exciting times indeed for Parnell. Verve sat down with two local business owners, one of whom is among the suburb’s longest serving; the other, one of the newest kids on this most beautiful of blocks.
Fran Davies, Director of International Art Centre
“Parnell is our home,” says Fran. “Its history, beauty, and energy are unique.”
Since 1971, the centre has been at the forefront of the New Zealand art market. “Auction sales such as the recent record price of $1.3M achieved for a painting by C.F. Goldie draw media and public attention not only to International Art Centre, but to Parnell as a whole,” says the director.
After 45 years at its current Parnell Road location, the centre will be moving to brand new premises at number 202, opening its doors on 17 August.
“Having been here for so long, the International Art Centre is a well established Parnell landmark,” says Fran. “What I see happening now is really exciting. I call it Parnell’s Renaissance. Imaginative growth on the historical foundations of New Zealand’s oldest suburb. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
What does Parnell mean to you on a personal level?
“A great deal. As a 16-year-old, I remember Les Harvey, the’ King of Parnell’, laying bricks and planting flowers throughout the suburb. The bronze statue outside Antoine’s Restaurant celebrates his vision. In the late 1960s my father, Graham Chote, saw potential and opportunity in Parnell which by the 1980s became a magnate for what was known then as the ‘in crowd’. Fabulous personalities shopped, partied, worked, dined and celebrated at venues such as Patrick Steel Couture, Iguacu, the VGB, Exchange, Windsor Castle and Antoines. Parnell Road is still my Boulevard of Dreams.”
There is, adds Fran, a real sense of community: “With exquisite speciality retailers such as Passion for Paper, Parnell retains the ambience of a village, albeit a 21st century one, and that in itself is something special and well-worth retaining.”
And she’s excited about what’s to come.
“City Construction’s unwavering commitment to Parnell along with projects such as their beautiful palm-filled piazza and the retention of precious historical buildings point the way to a bright future.”
Laura Verner, Owner of Pasture Restaurant
This month, husband and wife team Ed and Laura Verner open the doors to an all new and wholly unique Parnell eatery.
“Our vision is for food inspired by nature, created with a fine dining technique and served in a fun and relaxed atmosphere,” says Laura. “The simplicity of our dishes will belie the number of hours that go into them. The menu will be driven by seasonal plants and vegetables, and meats will be unusual cuts. Ed is very passionate about butchery.”
Rather than buying in pre-cut meats, Ed will buy in “half an animal” at a time then prepare it himself in-house. “Various parts of the meat will be used for various parts of the menu,” says Laura, “and what can’t be cooked will be cured.”
Sustainability is a big part of the couple’s philosophy. While many fine dining establishments use only the prettiest parts of their produce, Pasture plans to minimise waste. Sundays will see the introduction of an a la carte menu enabling the chefs to get creative with what’s left.
The open plan design means guests can watch the magic unfold in the kitchen, while the food will be served by the chefs. “Because our dishes are so innovative and unusual, people will want to ask questions,” says Laura. “So they’ll be able to ask the actual person who made them.”
Traditional techniques such as fermenting, pickling and preserving will play a prominent part. “These old school methods were born out of necessity in the days before refrigeration,” says Laura. “You harvested what was abundant and made sure that it would last throughout the year. We have been preserving the seasons for well over a year now and have this incredible library of flavours. It’s an enjoyable process, it’s traditional, and takes you back to your roots.”
Each of the six courses of the degustation menu will be accompanied by a recommended organic wine, beer, or spirit: “We would like to encourage people to allow us to take them on a journey. All of our wines are organic and biodynamic and predominantly from New Zealand. We’re very keen to promote the natural wine industry here in New Zealand, to support small independent vineyards which share our philosophy and believe in doing things differently. We want to be an outlet for that.”
Non-alcoholic handmade beverages such as vegetable juices or kombucha will be available for the drivers and teetotalers, too. By day, a section of the building will open to serve French press coffee and their own freshly bread baked. There is no gas, with all food cooked over a real fire. Out back, there’s even a research and development area.
The intimate space contains just 25 seats.
“We want it be understated,” says Laura. “We don’t want to create a fine dining environment where you are worried about using the right fork. We want it to be fun. Pasture is our idea of the perfect restaurant. It won’t be for everyone, but it is an authentic expression of what motivates us, of what we think is delicious and beautiful. Pasture is the sum of us.”
Words: Jamie Christian Desplaces
It’s exciting to see so many new introductions into the hospitality sector in Parnell, with more to come later in the year. We know that differentiated top class eateries act as a catalyst for other retail and drive foot traffic.
Previously a bit of a hospitality desert, with award-winning Cibo, The Paddington, and La Cigale holding the fort, the St Georges Bay Road area is at the forefront of a vibrant rejuvenation, with hospitality eagerly claiming their share.
Huckleberry Farms, New Zealand’s leading retailer of natural, organic and speciality products has just opened its eighth store in the Saatchi building on The Strand, while The Red Rabbit Coffee Co, founded in Wellington, are relocating their entire roastery to take up occupation in the redeveloped warehouse sheds in Faraday Street. Next door, the Krukzeiner Properties’ development wraps around the Faraday Street corner and extends up to Cleveland Road. Cognisant of the limited hospitality offering to office workers seeking scrumptious delights, they have announced early starters off the block including Madame Jojos, Goodness Gracious and an exciting new café on the corner premises to open later this year.
Then in Parnell Road, the presentation of Osteria in the newly minted façade of NSP certainly gives us good reason to either start or end the day with one of their Italian delights, and in the final stages of construction, a new gastro pub is set to open opposite Woodpecker Hill. Owners of the extremely successful 46 & York, JP Schmidt and Dana Johnston, say their new venue will provide ambiance par excellence — just what Parnell needs to reinvigorate their night life.
Following the eagerly awaited opening of Pasture, coming soon to tempt our tastebuds at No. 112 Parnell Road will be ‘Azon’. 2015 MasterChef NZ finalist Leo Fernandez has a vision to offer diners a taste of an amazingly unique Filipino experience: traditional food both prepared and cooked from the heart, flared with contemporary and modern touches.