Your first look at Underground Bistro, the new seafood-centric restaurant & bar in St Kevin’s Arcade

A charming new restaurant and wine bar has opened in Karangahape Road’s St Kevin’s Arcade, and it feels like a natural evolution for co-owners Adam Purcell and Lindon Wahrlich, as they build on their already-prolific presence in this iconic building. Having spent the last three years running Junktion (selling film cameras and vintage goods), Norwegian Wood (a mid-century modern furniture store) and Underground (a multi-use basement space), the duo has created what is poised to be the perfect place for those in the community to come together over delicious fare and refreshing drinks — and we have your first look.

A tiny but undeniably charming venue (once home to Acho’s), Underground Bistro is located in Shop 11 in St Kevin’s Arcade (directly next to Norwegian Wood and just across from Lowbrow). The space itself is pocket-sized, only allowing for between four and seven people to sit inside (depending on the configuration of the evening) although generous bar leaners spill out into the arcade, allowing for larger groups to mingle or for anyone to pull up a perch. In short, it’s clear that the owners haven’t let themselves be limited by size. Aesthetically, Underground Bistro is a loose continuation of the ‘bunker’ theme seen in downstairs’ Underground, with much of the fit-out created from items that have been found and collected over the years, including marble-topped tables that date back to the 20s and lampshades reminiscent of the 50s. It’s an eclectic space that offers all the character needed to thrive in this corner of town and feels like the missing piece of the Arcade’s puzzle.

From the kitchen, the intention is for food to be fuss-free, uncomplicated and delicious — with an ever-changing, pescatarian-friendly menu designed to incorporate the freshest ingredients. Here, a variety of seafood is the hero, where you’ll find dishes like a home-style risotto (which we’re told is a stand-out), freshly shucked oysters, and scampi grilled in its shell for an utterly rich flavour. “If it pays its way and people enjoy the food, that’s the dream,” Wahrlich tells me.

From the bar, expect to find Purcell, or one of his friends who works at the neighbouring stores, to be serving up natural wines, Cassels beer, and a complete menu of tasty spritzes. The perfect selection to quench any pre- or post-dinner thirst.

While originally intended as the sister venue to Underground, this new bistro is fast making its own, distinctive mark. And, if the pre-opening parties it has thrown over the last couple of weeks is any indication, Underground Bistro is already building a loyal following. Our advice? Get down to discover its wonder before everyone else finds out.

Underground Bistro

Shop 11, St Kevin's Arcade,
183 Karangahape Road,
Newton, Auckland


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