Since we opened Mister D Dining in 2012 at 47 Tennyson there is new retail growth and a sharpening of the hospitality trade. Looking out of the window one might even imagine a Parisian feel with the striped awnings of Alexanders and Linens to Love and the colourful window displays at Caravan and Cotton On.

Tennyson Street buzzes with food and drink options

Tables out on the pavement at Ujazi, Cafe Divine and Groove Kitchen Espresso give the street early morning life and even when it is ‘snowing’ outside diehard locals brave the cold for that early morning coffee fix. Stepping into the homeware worlds of Madisons and Brocante is like a dream come true and major romanticising can be spent in these spaces.

Joyously this is the first time for me in business that my restaurant hasn’t been placed next to a hamburger joint!!

In 2012 the art deco Masonic Hotel completed a major renovation and restoration under the guidance of owners Neil Barber and Craig Hay. The hotel rooms, bars and function facilities have been renovated and this hospitality hub is now restored to its former glory. Sipping cocktails under the eaves of the huge expansive balcony one might imagine you are on set in a Somerset Maugham play or in the Raj era, but with the sound of the sea in the background. You are then jolted back to a New Zealand scene with the ocean before you and the 100-year-old pohutukawa and the newly commissioned Paul Dibble cast bronze Gold of the Kowhai sculpture and across the road the brand spanking new MTG.

New to our hub is Georgia – Specialty Coffee on Tennyson. Enquiring where the name Georgia came from, Bennie the owner responded it was his favourite name for a girl and they have three boys!!! Coffee comes first here and they are passionate about its heritage. Using the Flight brand they offer alternate brew methods and even have a guest grinder on hand. Pastries from Yabon Artisan Bakers complete the package.

James Beck opens Bistronomy

Next in line to open in September is Bistronomy with chef James Beck at the helm. The F. Thorp and Co building built in 1932 is under renovation with a transformation to a smart Scandi-style bistro with a long eat bar, casual plates and a small tasting feast menu. Currently there is an ardent desire for many modern chefs to drop the high prices and stuffy atmospheres that used to be associated with ‘fine dining’ and present gastronomic dishes in modern, fun, accessible bistro settings.

Positioned right next door is Indigo, the acclaimed Indian restaurant. If you enjoy a tipple this is a ‘no brainer’ of a  destination as owner Paul is clearly a whisky aficionado and his shelves are groaning with every whisky imaginable.

Further down Hastings Street in the newly renovated post office building is Cafe Adoro where Hans and Paul create coffee happiness all day long.

Monica Loves, down the lane off Tennyson opened last December. This bar is fast becoming a haunt and the locals are certainly giving it the nod. On offer are cocktails, craft beers and a well thought out local and international wine list. Wok-fried salt and pepper prawns, crispy chicken with miso mayonnaise lead the charge on the bar menu with nightly specials featured on a blackboard menu. This bar translates as fun and modern catering to a range of ages and groups.

Masonic Hotel provides seaside anchor

Receiving an award in the 2015 Gisborne-Hawke’s Bay Architecture awards, Nott Architects in conjunction with Paris Magdalinos Architects and Jacob Scott used the industrial setting, creating a stylish, intimate interior and exterior space, rejuvenating one of the lost interior laneways of Napier.

Winter is the time when restaurants pull out all the stops and create their own events to encourage folks to leave their fires and venture out. One recent event at Pacifica packed a large punch with guest chefs Michael Meredith (Merediths Auckland) and Steven Beere from Mint Restaurant ‘putting on the ritz’ with a nine-course degustation menu matched with local and international wines.

Courses that stood out were the ‘snails and chicken mousse, swordfish and chia seeds’ matched with the Saint Clair Gruner Veltliner 2013 from Marlborough; ‘Squid rice risotto and cauliflower puree and cold smoked oyster’ matched with the Quarter Acre Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Hawke’s Bay; and ‘Egg yolk, artichoke, paua and chicken skin’ matched with the Osawa Prestige Collection Chardonnay 2013 from Hawkes Bay.

Jeremy’s food is daringly innovative, original and creative, and so his recent success at the 2015 Cuisine Awards for Best Regional Restaurant is exciting news for our region.

As part of winter FAWC, Mister D Dining’s event “Goat’s Head Soup” certainly rocked the Tennyson Street Casbah. An impressive Moroccan fit out with lanterns, Moroccan rugs, opulent velvet curtains completed the vibe and Mister D and his band of merry rockers played the entire Rolling Stones album. Guests merged between Monica Loves and Mister D Dining for drinks and cocktails with a generous feast dinner being served to communal tables.

Georgia Specialty Coffee, new to Tennyson

Highlights from the menu included whole baked snapper with chermoula spices and braised fennel, lamb tagine, Bostock organic chicken baked with Mister D’s harissa, and a traditional goat’s head soup (definitely not for the faint hearted!). Guests and staff dressed Moroccan-style creating that event buzz.

There is definitely excitement in the air and some of the older players – Groove Kitchen Espresso, and ethnics Sangham Indian Tandoori Restaurant and China Light – continue to keep the southern end of Tennyson Street padded up.

The new kids on the block are regenerating an enthusiasm to the street, creating a uniqueness, vibrancy and prosperity, bringing back a welcoming destination for tourists and locals. Thanks Pat for your foresight and commitment … Tennyson Street is just getting started.

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