Black Barn Bistro has been pretty pleased with the response so far to opening up their winery restaurant on Friday nights. This is this just the first change since Jason Pearce took over the front of house role at Black Barn Bistro. “The first thing I saw is this amazing site not being utilised in the evenings and I wanted to bring a new point of difference by opening for the evenings.” says Jason. “We looked at the logistics of doing something with the same team and the obvious answer was a one night event.” says Jason. Black Barn is renowned for its lunches, with Terry Lowe now in his 10th year as head chef. “Lunch is legendary, but we wanted to offer something different from that.” says Jason.
“On Fridays it’s a smaller, more concise menu, which allows us to be more flexible on what we offer each week. There’s something new every Friday and Terry can experiment with what’s on the plate around a few staple dishes.” says Jason. Pork belly has been a favourite with guests and so has made a reappearance nearly every week. “It’s been a signature dish but we’ve changed it from lunch. Today we’ve decided to do it crispy rather than the rolled pork we’ve done in the past.” says Jason.
Wherever possible the bistro restaurant sources from the land on and around the vineyard. Jason is keen on letting the product that’s around Hawke’s Bay influence what’s on the menu. “We’ve tried to use things like the courtyard oranges and last week we did an orange souffle with them. Baby coriander is coming through so we’re discussing adding it to a dessert.” says Jason. “Fresh and seasonal produce, it’s a bloody cliche, but it’s true!” laughs Jason. He tells me there’s figs dropping from the tree outside his office so they’re boiling them up into fig jam. “The neighbours are dropping off kilo’s of feijoas. There’s macadamia’s falling on the ground at home. Restaurants would kill to be able to say they grow their own herbs. I know of one in Wellington that’s created a garden roof for that very reason. If you can tell the table it’s dressed with baby rocket from ‘here’, that’s truly something. It’s taken for granted in Hawke’s Bay. We want to talk it up and let everyone to know.” says Jason.
The biggest change for guests arriving for an evening dinner at Black Barn Bistro is the social element to the night. “There’s more focus on the wine and the groups are bigger and they’re choosing different wines off our list.” says Jason. Dinner bookings are taken from 630-830pm so you can stay a while. If you’ve made the effort to come, they’re not going to move you on. “It gets a really vibrant atmosphere going!” smiles Jason. When you walk into Black Barn, you’ll see the area has been divided in two with one overlooking the twinkling night lights of Hawke’s Bay set with white tablecloths ready for the evening service, and the kitchen side is more casual inviting anyone in for a drink Friday afternoon. “We’re open from after lunch for anyone to come and have a drink. The guys who’ve finished up at the golf club can come and have a beer here.” Jason has some pretty strong hospitality credentials behind him including St John’s Bar & Restaurant and Wellingtons first Monteiths Bar the Occidental.
There is a maximum number that Black Barn can take for Friday nights and things are capped at 60-65 people. Those in the know are pre-booking with
one group booking their fifth week in a row. “The pressure will come in summer, we quite like the 60-65 people format that we’ve currently got!” says Jason. There’s an amuse-bouche for everyone, free breads to the table, set menu with whipped butter and sea salt at dinner, (some would call 5 courses).
Adding Friday nights is the first tweak, with yet to be revealed plans underway to bring visiting guest chefs and celebrities to Hawke’s Bay for one off deals. Jason exudes a confidence about the Hawke’s Bay restaurant scene that’s infectious. “Our lunches are stronger than ever for this time of year. I think that by not shutting our doors, we’ve put a positive step forward. The confidence starts here.” says Jason. Looking at the numbers for tonight I can see that groups are being encouraged. “Groups started at 6 people, we’ve now got a 14 tonight. We can even take a table for 30 and block out the time around it. Because of the set menu format it’s do-able.” says Jason. The solution to the challenge of doing an evening with the same experienced Black Barn team has provided an upside for groups. “They’re saying thank you for being open through winter. They never thought they could and now they can.” says Jason.
It turns 6pm and Terry comes out from the kitchen to brief the staff about the dishes for this week. “The carpaccio is thinly sliced and spread out on the plate, buffalo mozzarella with croutons, not hot.. it’s cold. White anchovies. More marinated, less salt. The flavour is more of a marinated mussel.” says Terry to the front of house team. There’s a buzz in the air as they prepare to open the doors for Friday night. If you’d like to enjoy a Friday evening at Black Barn Bistro, tweet them or book online below.
- Black Barn Bistro is open every Friday night throughout the year.Tweet
- 2 courses are $50 and 3 courses $60 at @blackbarnbistro. Tweet
- 10-12 person companies booking Christmas lunches already for Nov and Dec. Tweet