Social Kitchen is one of New Zealand’s hidden gems. One of my favourite things about architecture and interior design is the way a space can make you feel. When you walk in and it just feels great. You’re struck by interesting lines, textures, light and colour. A space that tells a story. The influence an excellent fit-out has on a bar or restaurant, and the diner’s experience, is really second to none. Social Kitchen is one of those very special spaces. Industrial is my favourite style, plus with rural New Zealand influences, this space was an absolute pleasure to photograph. Full review below.
Upon entry I am struck by the spaciousness of the restaurant, but it has a warm, unique vibe. There is an industrial aesthetic, with high ceilings, concrete walls, large warehouse windows, exposed pillars and pipes. The menu is exciting too, Social Kitchen is a shared dining experience and there is a great selection of large or small plates. It’s a hard choice between various New Zealand sourced meat, poultry and seafood and the prices are fairly reasonable. The bar menu is also extensive, offering a great choice of local and international beer and wine, plus a range of spirit based cocktails. The service is friendly and we are served quickly. The waiter talks us through the menu and tells us of the unique Mibrasa Charcoal Oven. Social Kitchen has the only one in New Zealand. This gives the food a delicious smokey quality and it’s interesting to watch the chefs load up the oven while you wait for your food.
The food did not disappoint! My group made the selection of scallops with blood sausage and sage, chicken liver pate with crostini and bruschetta with white anchovy, baby spinach, marinated cherry tomato & pine nuts for our starters.
My glass of Spanish rose went down a treat!
For our mains we selected Taranaki ruby fields free range pork belly, quite possibly the most tender pork belly we have ever tasted, Taranaki green meadows porterhouse, and the evenings special of homemade New Zealand bratwurst sausage. Each meat plate is accompanied with delicious chimichurri. Topping of our meal, delicious sides such as triple cooked chips and swiss brown mushrooms sautéed manuka smoked butter, garlic and fresh herbs.
The locally sourced ingredients speak for themselves, with the focus at Social Kitchen clearly showcasing spectacular local produce cooked with authenticity to enhance the natural flavours.
The tables are large, suitable for hosting bigger groups of guests. This is the kind of restaurant that would easily become a regular favourite.
A delightful surprise, in a vibrant country New Zealand town. Visit Social Kitchen’s website.
Photography by Kelsie Barley Photography