With an adventurous menu that shines a spotlight on local, organic produce, renowned chef and hospitality consultant Lucas Parkinson’s new Piha venture is well worthy of your attention this summer. Taking over the former site of The Piha Cafe (historically home to Piha’s post office), Aryeh, pronounced ‘Ari-aye’, opens its doors this Saturday, bringing an exceptional fine dining experience to the iconic coastal spot. The eatery is nestled into the bush-clad hillside, and boasts an enviable perspective of the beach and, from the outdoor area, Te Piha.
Unsurprisingly, given Parkinson’s resume, the menu is elevated, inventive and delicious. The chef, perhaps best known for his award-winning, Wānaka restaurant Ode (earning one hat, and arguably the country’s most sustainable high-end restaurant during its five-year residence), describes nature as the executive chef of Aryeh.
Nature, he says, dictates what’s on the menu and when. Dishes are guided entirely by Aotearoa’s produce and, as such, will change with and throughout the seasons. Taking great care in selecting wild proteins, sustainably sourced kaimoana, and cultivated goods that are procured with consideration for the environment and the welfare of animals is a non-negotiable for Parkinson, and the menu acts as an exploration of our local landscape.
The debut dishes, available this coming weekend, see the likes of sashimi paired with ponzu granita, finger lime, sunflower and kelp emulsion, and fig leaf sushi rice shard, and organic Cambridge Mapari beef topped with three-day Stonecroft syrah bone jus and five-year-aged balsamic. On the side, diners will delight in Piha honey-roasted young carrots with puffed Taranaki quinoa and a Piha herb gremolata, or crunchy jersey bennes fried in beef fat, served with Piha oyster mushroom and black garlic mayo. And when it comes to dessert, summery Kumeu Strawberry and Cambridge cream panna cotta with strawberry sorbet, fresh strawberries and aerated strawberry milkshake is a must try, while the Far North macadamia crumble with strawberry meringue and young purple basil is equally as divine.
If it’s a glimpse into the process and Parkinson’s craft that piques your interest, on Wednesday nights diners are offered a front-row seat to the action at Aryeh’s test kitchen experience, where an $89 five-course menu comes with a notepad and pen to leave feedback, which Parkinson assures us will be treasured by the kitchen team.
Anyone that frequents Piha in the summer months will know of the iconic address, and as soon as Parkinson spotted it vacant he jumped at the opportunity, taking Aryeh from concept to fruition in just eight short weeks. Inside, a vast Neolith Phedra stone chef’s table anchors the space, accompanied by an open kitchen, a spectacular Atlantic greenstone bar, and hardy wooden tables throughout. There’s space for an intimate group at the chef’s counter, a handful of tables on the covered balcony, and the most coveted spot of all, a carefully laid out sun deck — an outdoor oasis with an exceptional outlook, shaded by sprawling umbrellas.
This Sun Deck space invites walk-ins only, and as such, has a more casual offering — Parkinson’s take on traditional, casual seaside fare. Here, by-the-kilo pots of Coromandel mussels, fish and chips with light nitrous-whipped lemon aioli, and organic chicken wings with moreish horopito buffalo sauce all feature.
As for the drinks, an important consideration given the location, diners will be pleased to discover that the all-New Zealand mantra is upheld. You’ll find a focus on organic and biodynamic wines, a vibrant list of beer, and cocktails (both with and without the booze) based on fresh, cold-pressed fruits. There’s the option to wine match with all menus, too.
Aryeh’s concept is unique in that the eatery will welcome guests throughout summer, until the end of April when it ‘winters-down’, giving over its space for events, collaborations and pop-ups, before reopening for the next summer chapter in December.
With Parkinson’s exceptional fare paired with Aryeh’s location in one of the most iconic and breathtaking spots in the country, Aryeh is perfectly positioned to become the place to be this summer and beyond.
Dinner: Wednesday to Monday — 5.00pm till 9.00pm
Lunch: Thursday to Monday — 12.00pm till 2.00pm
20 Seaview Road,