Masterclass in Change

Master and Apprentice opened in February this year, in the space that had for many years been Blankenberge Belgian Beer Café. It was a revolutionary change. The Hurstmere Road newcomer boasted light airy premises, a new approach to hospitality and a contemporary menu with plenty of sharing options.

But for the team running Master and Apprentice (Paul Lomax, Kevin Schwass and operations manager Joe Harding), the changes weren’t finished when the new bar opened. Six months on, they are fine tuning with a few more changes: a new menu, with a greater emphasis on meals alongside the popular sharing plates; a range of more than 20 Panhead, Emerson’s and Little Creatures craft beers on tap; and a revamp of the layout to create a dining space that works for couples as well as larger groups, and a bar space that can flexibly accommodate casual drinkers, corporate after work groups, or special events.

“We can cater for everything,” says Joe, “whether you’re having a meal with your partner, drinks with friends or a function. With a new team in the kitchen, a new menu, and a new dining area we’re welcoming for a wide range of guests.”

New head chef Rohan Delvi has developed a menu that looks and feels as light and sophisticated as the Master and Apprentice environment. Sharing plates are complemented by soft tacos; pulled pork, Wagyu beef and vegetarian burgers on brioche buns; and a range of mains that Joe says are a cut above standard bistro offerings both in taste and presentation: pork belly with cauliflower, puree, kumara gratin and marinated tofu with port jus; grilled salmon with edamame and shrimp risotto, roquette salad with lemon butter sauce; and stuffed chicken breast with feta and peas, roast baby turnips, jus and truffle oil, to name just three.

Master and Apprentice hasn’t completely forgotten its roots – Monday Mussel nights still allow diehard mussel fans to get a weekly fix – and there’s a 1kg mussel pot as a standard item on the menu. Monday Mussel nights are complemented by $5 Taco Tuesdays, All Day Wednesday pastas, $10 sharing plates on Thursdays, and Crafternoons with craft beer specials from 4-6pm Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Master and Apprentice is also making something of a feature of event nights, including sports on the big screen, of course, when there are big games on. Its hugely successful Comedy Night in August won’t be the last, and other recent events have included a wine and cheese evening in partnership with The Cheese Room from Milford. Coming up on September 14 is a Brewer and Butcher evening featuring not only a four course meal matched with four Emerson's beers (plus one on arrival), but also its brewer and owner flying in from Dunedin to lead this beer and food matching evening. All for just $65 per person.

On Friday 29 September, Master and Apprentice holds its first “blue do”, as part of Blue September organised by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand. Expect a long lunch (corporates welcome!) based around “great food and craft beer”, guest speakers, raffles, an auction – and some of Master and Apprentice’s extensive range of whiskeys to finish.

Bookings are essential for these special events. Joe says Master and Apprentice also welcomes bookings for lunch or dinner. At lunchtime, he adds, Master and Apprentice can ensure food is ready when you arrive if you also call to order in advance.

Master and Apprentice, 136 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna 09 486 6330

By Christine Young

Channel Magazine: Issue 80 September 2017. You can view the article online HERE.