Despite being a resident of Takapuna, I spend a great deal of time in Devonport. There are many things that draw me down to the place I affectionately call ‘The Republic’. Of recent times a big drawcard has been Vic Road Kitchen, which I reckon is one of the Shore’s – maybe even Auckland’s – best eateries. It has established a very good following since opening 18 months ago.
The exciting thing for Shore foodies is that the team behind Vic Road Kitchen is also behind the brand new Fish Kitchen that opened in late November on the Devonport Wharf. The ownership team is executive chef Ian Shields, his wife Harriet Shields (front of house manager) and Paul Byrnes, Harriet’s father and a self-confessed enthusiastic wine consultant. In truth he’s a savvy, experienced and celebrated business person who is a key ingredient to the success.
The new venture is a clever move, as Fish Kitchen has been conceived to be a popular eatery for locals and tourist day trippers, but also appeals to the (up to 8000) people who pass through the iconic wharf every day. With Fish Kitchen, Ian maintains their commitment to showcasing fresh ingredients from artisan suppliers, sustainability and zero waste policies. The new restaurant is also a showcase of New Zealand food and beverages with all the food, wine and beer – and even spirits – sourced or produced in New Zealand.
They may also have the best views of the Waitemata Harbour, with the totally new restaurant built to take advantage of the fantastic location. There is seating for 150 people, including both outdoor and indoor seating on the wharf.
Fish Kitchen has an extensive seafood offering including mussels, clams, squid and octopus – all as available. These support their signature ‘fish ‘n’ chips’ dishes. Burgers, meat and vegetarian alternatives are equally out of the ordinary. Look out for their ‘Kiwiana’ themed cocktails and desserts. Locals and international visitors alike will love Fish Kitchen.
“A good number of those passing through the wharf are obviously local people commuting to the city,” says Harriet Shields. “We plan to cater for their convenience. This will include breakfasts or lunches to go in the morning and Ozone filter coffee that will be quick and efficient for those catching the ferry. Then in the evening we will have prepared takeaway meals and we will be selling locally caught fresh wet fish right through the day. This will also add to the wharf atmosphere and seaside experience.”
Ian Shields will maintain executive chef responsibilities for both restaurants, which are fortunately only a short walk apart. Ian hails from Liverpool in the UK, but has spent the majority of almost two decades as a chef in New Zealand. He has had chef and head chef roles in Queenstown, on Waiheke Island and more recently here on the Shore. He has acted as a consultant in both kitchen and menu design for a number of new restaurants prior to their opening. With the success of Vic Road Kitchen and his philosophies around sustainability – including fish species and zero waste – Ian is an emerging identity in the New Zealand hospitality scene. Certainly, his growing reputation has helped attract a particularly strong team of chefs and kitchen staff for both Vic Road Kitchen and Fish Kitchen. Ian has worked with Paul Kenward, his lead chef at Vic Road Kitchen, for over 15 years heading up multiple kitchens together across New Zealand. It is clear to patrons of Vic Road Kitchen that there is a ‘passion’ in the kitchen, with their offering changing daily. This is led by both Ian and Paul.
“We share the same food philosophies,” explained Ian Shields, when quizzed about their combination. “We certainly gel with our styles and passion for flavours which means we have been able to maintain a reputation for exciting, seasonal dishes that our customers do enjoy.”
The Vic Road Kitchen and Fish Kitchen crew share an all round passion for food and hospitality. From that perspective Harriet has been an integral part of the success. Harriet’s knowledge of wine and wineries ensures comprehensive and evolving wine lists and she has been instrumental in ensuring Vic Road Kitchen’s food and wine matching evenings have been sell-out events.
Harriet manages administration, front of house staff and marketing for both restaurant businesses. Harriet worked in event management with seven years based in London. She travelled extensively and honed her interest in food and wine. Back home in New Zealand she completed an Auckland University post graduate wine science course based on Waiheke. Harriet’s subsequent vintage in Napa Valley was cut short by the 2017 California fires with her escaping with just the clothes she was wearing, her passport and engagement ring. Ian and Harriet married earlier this year.
Harriet’s father, Paul, is no stranger to start-ups and entrepreneurial projects. His 30 years’ experience in senior and CEO roles in private and listed companies has included management buyouts, consulting and participation in merger and acquisition opportunities and early stage investing. Paul stepped down as CEO of listed Turners Automotive Group in 2016 and is credited as the architect of the remarkable turnaround of Dorchester Pacific. Paul was inducted into the North Harbour Business Hall of Fame in 2017.
Readers will be well aware of how excited we get at Channel Magazine when we see new business enterprises adding value to our community. In Takapuna we all love our Takapuna Beach Café that brings people from wide and far. My belief is Fish Kitchen is going to have the same popularity in Devonport. What I have discovered in putting together this feature is the team behind this new venture has ticked all the boxes to ensure success. And they have a proven track-record that includes one of my favourites, Vic Road Kitchen.
Fish Kitchen is certainly another big reason for me to spend more time in the Republic of Devonport!
Fish Kitchen, Devonport Wharf – Open from 7.30am for takeaway breakfast and lunch items; Open from 11.30am for Lunch and Dinner.