Matt Hawkes (ex-Rita, ex-Mason) and Sophie Evans know hospo inside and out – and Local Talent Taverna is set to be a go-to for natural wine and beer on tap, a Greek- and Mediterranean-inspired menu and several rounds of pool.

Situated on Cameron Street, Local Talent Taverna will be casual – “simple but considered,” says Hawkes. “A super-usable space with lots of emphasis on functionality. An inclusive and inviting atmosphere with well-executed, straight-to-the-point food, showcasing Northland’s local produce.”

Their 60-seat venue will have counter service rather than table service, and a pool table down the end. “To some, it’s where they will come to have a family meal; to others, it’ll be their place of choice for a glass of wine and a snack – or a favourite spot for a game of pool and a cold beer,” says Evans.

It’ll be Greek- and Mediterranean-inspired, with a menu that’s to include things like grilled pita, saganaki with burnt honey and thyme, and marinated fennel and citrus salad. There will be souvlaki, schnitzel, line-caught fish, and braised lamb shoulder. And to drink, they’ll be pouring out of 10 taps – jugs of beer, carafes of natural wine and a few cocktails.

“And some ouzo, obvi,” says Evans.

Local Talent will be the latest in a succession of openings contributing to the evolution of Whangārei. “I’ve only been here five months, so it’s hard to say, but more and more, we hear about people moving to the ’Rei,” says Evans. On that note, if you’re considering the move, Local Talent could sweeten the deal for you.

“We’re still after a few key people to join the team. If you’re a chef, or know a chef, who wants a lifestyle change (yeah, three days off ... in a row), get in touch,” says Evans. “There might even be a relocation bonus in it for you. Now, if that’s not a shameless plug, I don’t know what is.”

Local Talent Taverna is due to open in early March at 99 Cameron Street, Whangārei.

Contact Details

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Updated: February 3rd, 2023

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