First Look – The Halcyon

The experienced trio behind Auckland favourite Ponsonby Road Bistro – Melissa Morrow, Blair Russell and Sarah Conway – have opened a second bistro, The Halcyon, in Herne Bay.

The space, formerly Andiamo, has been re-designed by Allana Owen (ex-Queenies) into a blushing cacophony of colour and natural light. Tactile surfaces in loud colours; gold wire birdcage lightshades, velvet banquettes, linen curtains and exposed wood give the room, as Morrow says, a “once seen, never forgotten” look, that still somehow feels timeless.

The design had already been finalised when Morrow thought of the name, that they mesh so well is purely serendipitous; the saying ‘halcyon days’ harks back to a carefree time with golden beams of sunlight and garden parties with Pimm’s in hand. A Halcyon is also the name of an Australasian kingfisher with brightly coloured plumage, similar to the taxidermy-esque birds that perch on the lightshades here.

The Halcyon has been put together by pros. Subtle details give this away: the tasteful colour palette and expensive-looking furniture, a meticulously stocked bar and small design details which – when in action – will enhance service efficiency; two bar entrances, for example, or curtains to be used as room dividers. A roaring, back-room fire will see guests through the colder months.

Lunch has been discontinued at Ponsonby Road Bistro (with the exception of Fridays), while The Halcyon will be an all-day affair with no real turnover – rather than lunch and dinner, service will run from 11am until late. Food ranges from the more virtuous salads or fish pate with seed crackers, to lamb shank shepherd’s pie or fish and chips. Various sides complete the offering.

It takes a while to work out how to build a great restaurant but this crew has experience in spades; hospitality stalwart, Nick Gallagher (ex-Depot and Culprit) will also be on board. The trio is dedicated, too, even joking about installing a flying fox between the two restaurants to make the most of their time. “Everything is done properly,” says Morrow matter-of-factly, “it’s a pub, but it’s not a pub. It’s a meeting point. And it’s friendly and warm and gracious and you leave your troubles at the door. Forget about climate change. Forget about Trump – just come in and have a nice time.”

The Halcyon
194 Jervois Rd
Herne Bay