An exciting new chef for nights at Neil Cafe, Te Atatū
Ella Mizrahi and Oliver Driver opened their Te Atatū Peninsula cafe Neil in January 2022. Since then, it’s been humming happily along as a neighbourhood go-to for great coffee and tasty brunch food, pop-up food events in the chequered courtyard, and bistro plates on weekend nights. Just ahead of summer, they’ve signed on some fresh chef talent to oversee the evening menu: Georgia van Prehn, who previously ran Alta on K’ Road. Van Prehn, along with chef Ariana Happy, will be creating Middle Eastern-inspired sharing dishes on Thursday and Friday nights, including lamb ribs with Middle Eastern barbeque sauce and toasted breadcrumbs; potato pizza with cashew garlic cream; and various delicious dips to have with your flatbreads. There’s also a refreshed brunch menu until 2pm, and a smattering of pizzas and snacks for late afternoon. Neil is licensed, too, with a concise list of organic and conventional wines from New Zealand and Australia as well as canned and tap beer, and cocktails like gin and salted grapefruit tonic. The cafe is great for little ones, with kid-friendly dishes across all menus. 2/29 Neil Avenue, Te Atatū Peninsula, Auckland.

A birthday long lunch at Damascus, Wellington
To celebrate one year on Tory Street, Syrian restaurant Damascus is putting on a special lunch event this Sunday, comprising a nine-course set menu for $80 per person. Book in and you’ll be served a feast that includes market fish in vine leaves, chicken shish, grilled eggplant with tahini and vegetables, and much more. There are two sittings to book, and 100 per cent of profits from the lunch will go to Swaida, Syria (co-owner Hasan Alwarhani’s home village), for a new spring water system. 11am and 1:30pm, Sunday September 24.

Art and winemaking combine with Church Road
Earlier this year, Hawke’s Bay was announced as the 12th official wine capital of the world – and Church Road is one of the region’s top producers. This month, the winery announced its annual Prestige collection (a release that focuses on the best vintages from recent years) and, at the same time, its inaugural Church Road Art Initiative. In partnership with MTG Hawke’s Bay, the yearly initiative will support an emerging or mid-career New Zealand artist (to be chosen this October) and give them the opportunity to display their works permanently at the museum. This November, that artist will also speak at Wellington design festival Semi Permanent Aotearoa. Keep an eye out for the Art Initiative recipient and find the 2023 Prestige wines at

Dinner and a symphony at The Runholder, Martinborough
Wairarapa restaurant, tasting room and distillery The Runholder opened in August as a flagship for Lighthouse Gin, and to showcase the wines of Te Kairanga and Martinborough Vineyard. From 5:30pm on September 30, the Foley Hospitality-owned venue is putting on a special spring event which will see a brass and percussion ensemble from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra serenade diners as they enjoy a three-course dinner. Dishes will celebrate Wairarapa producers, including fresh fish from Tora Collective, Olivo olive oil from Martinborough, sourdough from Clareville Bakery just outside Carterton – and more. There are limited tickets left; find all details and book here.

Prizes and popping bottles at Shed 5, Wellington
An institution in the capital, Shed 5 looks out over Lambton Harbour from its heritage-listed warehouse building in Wellington Central – an outlook that’s only going to be more in-demand as the weather warms. Starting this week, the seafood restaurant is running Shed 5-Hundred Reasons in collaboration with GH Mumm, offering diners the chance to win a variety of prizes including sailing vouchers with yacht charter company Megisti, limited-edition Ecoya sets, Maison de Sabre crossbody phone pouches and more – plus, a deal on the price of GH Mumm champagne ordered at the restaurant. On until November 1. Queens Wharf, Wellington Central, Wellington.