An Aro Valley restaurant engages local artists
Rita is a new restaurant in a former worker’s cottage in Aro Valley, Wellington. You might be familiar with its owners – Paul Schrader, Matt Hawkes and Kelda Hains are behind Nikau Cafe, which they opened in 1998 in City Gallery Wellington. Nikau is a daytime cafe; Rita is a nighttime restaurant. The latter seats 30 and offers a set menu for $65 (salt-roasted beetroot, say, followed by Longbush pork, broth, dumplings and watercress, followed by a kiwifruit and olive-oil sorbet). There are two sittings, one at 5.30pm and one from 7.30pm. “Even in a two-hour bracket you can have quite a story or a narrative,” says Schrader of the approach. “It’s quite hard to create that ordering off a menu.” The trio had their eye on the house – built in 1910 – for a few years, so when it came on the market last year, they bought it, and Schrader’s wife Mary Daish set about a lovely redesign, focused around an
Top Rita’s dining room in the 1910 worker’s cottage.
Above Signage by Gary Stewart of The Gas Project.