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First Look: Rockefeller Champagne and Oyster Bar

Aug 13, 2015 Bars

It’s feeding time at Rockefeller Oyster and Champagne Bar, and a mushy orange substance called Peach and Mango Sunset is being fed to ex-bFM DJ Camilla Martin’s 8-month old twins. “They will try oyster purée at some stage” says Martin, for whom oysters have become somewhat of a recurring motif. In 2012, Tim Arnold, then a guitarist in rock band Pluto, asked her out for champagne and oysters. They’ve been eating them on dates ever since, and so when a mate alerted them to a heritage building on Fanshawe Street that he was planning to do up, they decided to open a bar dedicated to them.

That was two years ago; building delays and the arrival of twin baby girls – turning a family of three children into five – meant there were points when the couple wondered whether their ‘punk luxe’ oyster bar would ever materialise. It has, and at 2pm on the day of the evening launch, it’s a few buckets of ice away from looking ready.

It’s a cool space: Dan Bulog of architect firm Brave has let the original Kauri Building do the hard work, exposing structural elements to create a glass, brick and wooden canvas. Arnold has decorated it with mid century furniture and statement light fittings.

It seems a world away from the grungy music venues the couple grew up frequenting. “We wanted somewhere nice to eat and drink” Martin says, “but we didn’t want to have to listen to Café del Mar the entire time.” That’s been duly rectified: Martin will be the house DJ, playing anything from Buzzcocks to Lead Belly and Alice in Chains. She’ll be helped along with speakers that “make a mean sound; they’re our version of a souped-up Hamilton car.”

Whether Rockefeller will attract lovers of rock is to be seen; with Telecom, Fonterra and Vodafone headquarters all a stone’s throw away, you can’t help but wonder if they’ll get requests to turn the music down from champagne-sipping corporates. Lovers of oysters should flock though: Arnold knows his stuff and with Leigh Fisheries as a key supplier, he’s getting the country’s best fresh each morning. They’ll be served Kilpatrick, Rockefeller, fried and natural, and can be paired with over 45 champagnes, many of which are available by the glass. The menu will change with the seasons, but a couple of hours before opening, Arnold doesn’t want to put too fine a point on the details. That’s okay, good rock usually evolves.

Rockefeller Champagne and Oyster Bar
104 Fanshawe St


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