Black Barn Bistro 14.5/20 Black Barn Rd, Havelock North 07 877 7985, blackbarn.com Lunch Wed-Sun, dinner Thurs-Sat (winter hours) Mains $32-$35 THERE’S SOMETHING
awe-inspiring about sitting at a table in a hilltop restaurant, looking out over a trellis of leafy grape vines to vineyards and farmland and beyond to the rolling hills of western Hawke’s Bay. This wonderful view is a major drawcard of the Black Barn dining room. Even after dark, when the vista has disappeared, ambient lighting provides a sense of being elevated above the world.
I recall my first visit to Black Barn not long after it opened in 2003. Despite the fact it had not had time to settle fully into its skin, I thought it a beautiful place then, thoughtfully set out with the formal avenue-like entry path. There have been modifications and a general spruce-up but while the decor remains mostly the same, the years have given it the patina of age and it seems somehow more comfortable and welcoming.
Our visit was at lunchtime and the restaurant was reasonably busy, but service throughout was prompt and efficient. We noticed a significant improvement from previous visits in the menu awareness of the waitstaff, who were confidently able to describe the dishes and assist with wine recommendations.
This renewed energy may well be the result of the influence of Henry Gordon, who took over the lease of Black Barn around 12 months ago, the first change of ownership in 14 years. Henry, whose family is from the Hawke’s Bay, returned home after several years in Europe working on super yachts. Before that
ABOVE Black Barn’s dessert of Hawke’s Bay apples; chef Daniel Pistone and owner Henry Gordon; the new fireplace