The newest offering from Matt and Kimberley Hayward is an ode to boats and rum, but the true inspiration for Sailor – which opened last week in Mount Maunganui – was to create a new local for adults to eat and drink at, and then kick on.

“We like creating spaces where everyone comes together all the time,” Kimberley tells Broadsheet. “There was a bit of a gap for people our age wanting to go out for a meal and have a bit more fun.” It has a 1am kick out, and unlike other special-occasion restaurants in the suburb, “Sailor is way more casual,” she says. “We want people here every week.”

Sailor is the couple’s third venue on Maunganui Road, taking up residence in the former Fish Face premises. The couple also owns crowd-pleasing restaurant Hide Thirst & Hunger, and Brew Co – the laid-back pub next door that turns into a twenty-somethings’ haunt on weekends. “The back alleyway is pretty busy with our staff running back and forth,” Kimberley laughs.

Executive chef Perrin Yates (ex Picnicka and Clarence Bistro) is behind the menu. He joined the team earlier this year to oversee all three venues, and recently revamped the food at both Hide and Brew Co, too.

Despite the name, it’s not a seafood restaurant. Instead, the team liken Sailor to what you’d indulge in if you were cruising around New Zealand on a superyacht. “It’s the best you can have, at your fingertips,” Matt says. “And you’re on a boat, so you drink rum.”

There’s pork crackling, crispy parmesan churros with fired-roasted capsicum sauce, and a burnt-butter crumpet topped with a lemony crème fraïche spanner-crab mix. “The snacks are all about what you eat when you’re not eating,” Matt says.

Other dishes include a Boston-style crayfish roll with spiced Cajun butter. It’s served on a house-made sweet milk bun and sprinkled with pickled shallots. There’s also a yellowfin tuna niçoise salad; bavette steak with bearnaise sauce and hand-cut chips; Fiordland venison backstrap; and a roast pumpkin and makrut lime curry.

The neat but varied menu pairs well with the rum cocktails. You might order the sweet and tangy Jamaican Daiquiri with Appleton Estate rum, or the Rum Old Fashioned with Ratu eight-year signature blend dark rum adding spiced oak and coconut flavours. There’s also ice-cold Peroni on tap and over 50 wines on the drinks list.

Designed by Kate Clay from interior architecture consultancy The Room, the initial vision for Sailor centred on a moody cabin with velvet armchairs. They came to realise the venue is a “sun trap” so pivoted slightly to a refined palette with brass accents, moss-green finger tiles behind the bar, oiled cedar wall panelling and dark hardwood floors. A decked courtyard out the back continues the boat vibe.

Aside from pre-queued yacht rock playlists (think classic soft rock, like Hall & Oates) there will be a DJ spinning tunes on Saturday nights – for vibes rather than dancing. “One of the great things about this place,” says Matt, “is you can get the energy from Brew Co without being amongst it.”

Sailor Galley and Rum Bar
107 Maunganui Road, Mount Maunganui
(07) 575 2782

Weds to Sun 12pm–late