Meet The Butcher Baker, Helensville’s new farm-to-table destination for delicious dining

If you’ve found yourself in Helensville of late, you might have stumbled upon The Butcher Baker. A true farm-to-table style restaurant, harnessing the best of locally-grown and foraged produce, Owner Reginaldo Richard always intended the space to become a destination eatery for those across Auckland — as much as a foodie haven for locals to enjoy. Drawing on his tenure at local institutions like Honey Bones and Odettes, as well as his experience in some of the world’s biggest culinary hubs, The Butcher Baker is an ode to dining done well. And so, with a long weekend ahead, we thought there was no better time to discover the magnificence of this recent opening for yourself.

Paying homage to the rich history of its building (formerly both a baker and a butcher — hence the name), The Butcher Baker juxtaposes new and old. Fronted by an expansive courtyard, a delightful spot to sit and soak in the sun, the brick building has had a fresh and modern refit with pitched ceilings (that reminded me somewhat of London institution Rochelle Canteen) and a pared-back fit-out that feels effortlessly cool.

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Aesthetics aside, Richard’s delicious dishes is the real drawcard here. The Butcher Baker’s menu changes often (weekly, we’re told) in order to capitalise on the best seasonal produce, sourced from local suppliers and foraged by Richard himself. Much of it is cooked in the eatery’s vast woodfire oven which sits pride of place in the open kitchen, offering new and innovative ways to cook and resulting in some seriously spectacular flavours.

“We use lots of fire to cook,” Richard tells me. “Not just meat, but vegetables and fruits as well. We even charr the meringue using one of the old-style irons. There are so many different ways to use the fire.” He explains that working with fire takes rapid-pace dining back a notch, which encourages those dining at The Butcher Baker to sit back, enjoy one another’s company and discover a renewed appreciation for the process and art of cooking. A welcome respite from the busyness and bustle of daily life, we think. “I see the fire as a key way to influence our menu,” Richard shares.

Those seeking something to satiate them in the middle of the day can expect to find fresh takes on brunch classics, like the English muffin adorned with whipped brie, anchovies, fig leaf oil and a soft-boiled egg, or dishes that pay homage to Richard’s Brazilian roots like the chickpea socca, topped with purple sprouting broccoli, almond and salsa verde. These pair perfectly with locally-roasted High Noon coffee or fresh Almighty juice.

Should you visit in the evening, some staples remain but there is a pivot to woodfired dishes and a sharing-style menu. Think of an interesting, more flavourful take on comfort food, and an approach to meat and fish that is innovative and aims to use as much of the animal as possible. (Richard often uses half and whole woodfired chickens, whole fish and dry-aged beef in his ever-changing dishes.) And the exceptional food is only complemented by a comprehensive list of delicate aperitivo, beloved natural wines and a range of craft beers. For dessert? The house sorbet is essential.

Growing up on a 500-acre farm in Brazil, a love for fresh produce and simple woodfire cooking was instilled in Richard from an early age. It’s a memory he recalls fondly of his mother, who would spend hours in front of the fire cooking traditional meals — the essence of which he hopes to bring to his new Helensville locale. Although The Butcher Baker is entirely its own, unique entity, we’d almost say this is where the innovation of something like Honey Bones meets the rich, smoky flavours of something like Milenta. High praise, we know, but once you visit (as you should this weekend), we are confident that you’ll agree.

Opening hours:
Tuesday — Friday, 7am until 2.30pm
Saturday — Sunday, 8am until 2.30pm
Thursday — Saturday (evening service), 4pm until 10pm

The Butcher Baker

5 Commercial Road,
Helensville, West Auckland


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