From the moment you step into Roses Dining Room, it is clear that experience, atmosphere and connection sit at the heart of Karl and Ophelia Bayly’s dining philosophy. The duo have amassed a following on Instagram as Cooked Plates, for the innovative, flavourful food they create for private functions or pop-up dinners, designed to shine a light not only on seasonal ingredients but also, on the important way that food can bring us together and keep us connected. Roses is the pair’s first permanent site — a reflection of their delicious concept in bricks-and-mortar — and it is set to put them firmly on the culinary map.
Driving this recent evolution is, as Ophelia explains, a desire to do things differently. At Roses, they want to offer the kind of experience you might expect to find more from a long dinner party with friends as opposed to a traditional restaurant. “We’re fed by a belief that a good meal is only as good as the wine drunk with it and the people it’s eaten with,” she tells me.
From this simple idea, Roses emerged. Tucked down the eastern end of K’Road, surrounded by some very good company, Roses is the kind of unassuming spot one might easily walk past and not think anything of it. Formerly a tattoo studio and before that, an independent art gallery, the space itself is no more than three metres wide — but standing inside, you can immediately feel the energy of what it has held before, an ode to this area’s eclectic history. “It’s the kind of space that has had nine lives,” Ophelia tells us, and we can’t help but hope that this most recent evolution is its last for a while.
When Roses officially opens later this month, it will be predominantly as a dining room designed to host both chefs- and bakers-in-residence, where Auckland gourmands can expect a deliciously curated roster of talent like Krista On Hing (formerly of Gemmayze Street, and founder of Bonanza — you can discover more here), Ben Wallace (also ex-Gemmayze Street, now in the kitchens at the unspeakably popular Ooh-Fa), and Ashleigh Barrowman from Roses’ neighbouring Everyday Wine, joined by Karl himself in the kitchen for a collaborative affair. And while the dining room is an exceedingly intimate space — with a capacity for 26 guests, max it is also versatile. As much a space to showcase culinary talent and host ticketed events, Roses can also be hired for private, catered events (with or without the Bayly’s prowess in the kitchen) and specific pop-ups. It is also the perfect site for Cooked Plates to continue in their culinary endeavours. “It’s like a dinner party at a friend’s — but you don’t have to clean up,” Karl mentions, before running out the door to a guest shift at Candela down the road.
Ultimately Roses gives small-but-mighty, hidden-gem, European vibes. To dine here is to feel like you are a part of something truly special, which really, you are. The food is perfect. The interior is subtle, soothing and easily changeable. And the chairs are mismatched because, as Ophelia reflects, “I’ve never been to a good dinner party where the chairs are all the same.”
The apparent distinction with this new opening is that, despite its obviously delicious offering, Roses is adamantly not a restaurant. It won’t be open every day, and its offering is almost the antithesis of our current dining culture. “The fundamental difference is that we didn’t want to be a restaurant,” Ophelia tells me. “We love it, but we didn’t want to die for it.” Instead, it’s an experience that’s not always about the Baylys or their vision. In fact, there is no menu. Should guests seek the duo’s talents for a private affair, Karl will devise a menu of the moment, all stemming from seasonal, local inspiration.
In many ways, it feels like a revolutionary, bold concept, but perhaps it is merely symptomatic of how the last few years have changed the pace of dining. We all still want to go out for delicious food, but we crave intimacy, connection, and a little bit of friendly, candlelight romance, even if we are sharing the table with a stranger. And at this address, we’ve found it.
Given that there is nothing in Auckland quite like Roses, we’re surprised no one had pioneered the concept here sooner. As Ophelia tells me, “we just wanted to come up with something that makes sense.” It certainly makes sense to us, and once you have your first experience here, we’re sure it will make sense to you too.
Roses Dining Room
454 Karangahape Road,
Newton, Auckland Central