Concord takes its cues from European bistros of the 20th century. Owned by Sean Golding and Shepherd Elliott (who have six venues around Wellington), it can be found in the historical modernist building that was previously home to Wellington’s beloved Lido cafe.
Waiters in smart blue and black coats float around a lush room with velvet seats and dim, reddish lighting. The bar is the focal point, with red timber dowels hanging in the shape of a wave – a nod to the building’s signature curved awning. The decor is so theatrical it’s no surprise to learn that Golding once designed film sets.
The pair wanted to give Wellingtonians a polished dining experience without the pomp or fussy food – a bistro-luxe kind of vibe, with simple dishes done well. Entrees such as steak tartare, shrimp cocktail and duck liver pate make way for mains – eye fillet steak, eggplant schnitzel, half a roast chicken – served with bottomless fries.
Elliott, who’s also executive chef, describes the food as “luxury European bistro crossed with New York steakhouse”.
There’s something wonderfully nostalgic about eating half a roast chicken with fries or tucking into a shrimp cocktail followed by a Scotch fillet steak; it’s a departure from the small shared-plates dining approach so common around Wellington.
Concord’s sous-chef, Max Gnojczok, hails from Marseilles in France and runs the Concord kitchen. He’s a natural at French dishes like the shallot tarte tatin and saucisson brioché (a decadent kind of sausage roll).
Part of the inspiration for the luxe fit-out – built by Golding, Elliott and a friend – came from the mid-century architecture and curving windows of the Racing Conference building itself: the wave of Concord’s bar, its sloping velvet seats. The colour palette is a mix of reds and oranges and punches of gold, with retro carpet and tasselled light shades.
If weather permits, dine al fresco. Throughout the day, dappled light filters through the deciduous trees nearby and, sitting in a Parisian bistro chair with a bowl of bottomless frites and an Aperol Spritz, you could be in Europe.
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