Occupying a coveted spot on Auckland’s Westhaven Marina, First Mates, Last Laugh is the laid-back new all-day eatery you need to try

“Kiwis love the ocean. We naturally gravitate toward the water when thinking about dining and where we feel relaxed,” Judith Tabron tells me when discussing her new venture, First Mates, Last Laugh — a new all-day eatery opening its doors this month at Auckland’s Westhaven Marina.

Taking up one of the city’s most coveted positions, Tabron’s new eatery marks the hospitality stalwart’s much-anticipated return to the industry, promising to bring something fresh to Auckland’s vibrant dining scene. “I’m thrilled to say First Mates, Last Laugh is a concept that is much different from my previous ventures,” Tabron tells me. “We set out to create a warm, friendly neighbourhood spot that is elevated yet relaxed — somewhere to go for occasional dining, or pop into for a drink and snack after a stroll along the marina.” she continues. And from what we’ve seen so far, First Mates, Last Laugh delivers on all fronts.

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Tuna Sashimi Taquitos

The space itself, set in the midst of the sheds lining Westhaven Drive, is pared-back and unfussy, conjuring the easy, breezy vibe of a beach house. The interiors were designed by the clever team at Material Creative, who perfectly captured the essence of what Tabron set out to create. With a palette centred on warm, inviting tones — incorporating the vibrant colours of the nearby ocean, here, the ambience is calming; the vibe inspiring repose. “It wasn’t an easy brief,” laughs Tabron, “But we’re stoked with the result.”

Spicy Salmon

When it comes to the food, the team placed a strong emphasis on heroing exceptional local produce, with quality, seasonality, and accessibility at the fore. At the helm in the kitchen is Executive Chef Cezar Takahashi, whose 15 years’ experience in Japanese restaurants — both within New Zealand and overseas, shines through in the expertly curated menu. A master of his craft, Takahashi draws upon his Brazilian-Japanese heritage and long history of working with seafood to develop dishes that are unique and inventive, weaving in nods to traditional techniques and flavours — with a strong focus on locally-sourced produce.

Tabron herself is also no stranger to a kitchen, cheffing for many years before stepping into the owner/operator role, including a stint as head chef at her now-neighbouring eatery Sails Restaurant. Tabron and Takahashi collaborated closely on the opening menu, which draws on a multitude of cuisines, from Brazilian to Japanese, Asian, South American and, of course, also features Tabron’s much-loved Kiwi classics.

Fresh Sashimi Selection
Left: First Mates Colada Fizz. Right: Prawn Taquitos

When asked which dishes Tabron is most excited about, Cezar’s fresh sashimi and Whitebait Tamagoyaki instantly come to mind. While the taquitos — a delectable crowdpleaser, are sure to be a First Mates, Last Laugh staple. And, while there will certainly be some inventive and elevated fare on offer, classics will feature too.

Hiramasa Kingfish Ceviche
Left: Cured Salmon. Right: Black Forest Espresso Martini

On the drinks menu, the beloved Spritz will appear in many iterations, and the ‘Tiny-Tini’ (a mini martini made with either gin or vodka), we’re told, is a heady delight. Given the location, there will of course be crisp, cold beer on tap, including local craft drops. While elsewhere on the menu, the wine offering has been curated by Tabron herself, drawing inspiration from her vast travels — both locally and globally, to offer something unique.

Tiny-Tinis (vodka & gin)

Harnessing Tabron’s extensive and varied experience, First Mates, Last Laugh is a fresh hospitality hotspot with all the makings of a future icon.

First Mates, Last Laugh opens officially on April 18th at 121 Westhaven Drive.

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday, 11am until late


First Mates, Last Laugh

121 Westhaven Drive
Westhaven Marina

Image credit: Kayle Lawson


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