A steak experience like no other on Central Parade in the Mount.
WORDS KATE UNDERWOOD / PHOTO KENRICK RHYS
The opening of Fife Lane is the realisation of a nine-year dream for Ryan and Kat Dippie, who along with their passionate team, transformed the space on Mt Maunganui’s Central Parade into an industrial-chic restaurant. The hotspot eatery is impressing locals and visitors with everything from Gisborne wagyu scotch with blue cheese butter to Coromandel mussels with saffron cream and plenty of vibrant Central Otago pinot noir.
As avid diners themselves, Ryan and Kat felt there was a significant gap in the area. “If you didn’t want to go over the bridge or right down to the Mount, where could you go?” Kat says. Drawing inspiration from New Zealand restaurant stalwarts like Jervois Steak House and Botswana Butchery, Kat says they wanted to create a quality dining experience that complemented other offerings already in the Bay.
Having spent the last nine years as owners of Rain Bar in Papamoa, Ryan and Kat utilised the expertise and collective knowledge of their dream hospitality team to create Fife Lane. Kitchen manager Robbie Webber, frontof-house Keri Harman and bar manager Scott Hinton were all sent on a two-year research stint in Melbourne, to hone their skills and bring back a wealth of fresh inspiration.
The result is an extensive menu specifically designed to provide food that feels both accessible and remarkable. Opt for the Hawke’s Bay lamb shoulder with minted pea puree which is served with crumbed sweet breads, or – from the steak selection – the under-rated French bavette cut. Smaller plates include tender calamari with miso mayo, and a pork belly with cauliflower purée and feijoa chutney. Among the sides, paprika buttered corn cobs and golden beer battered onion rings are lining up to be favourites, and, from the sharing section the eye fillet beef Wellington and the seafood paella would be fabulous for a crowd.
Taking inspiration from butchers of the past, a custom-built glass meat locker sits at the heart of the space. This fine looking chill room houses an array of aged meat cuts – from West Coast savannah Angus sirloin to a Wakanui Angus rump. And if you order from the cabinet, you also have the luxury of selecting your own steak knife, presented at the table in a bespoke wooden box.
Wine is Ryan’s thing, and he’s dedicated an entire room to housing their diverse range. With barman Scott, they’ve handselected every bottle, including several vintages from across New Zealand and a sprinkling of international varietals. They have wine glass styles fit for every drop, whether it’s a bright Chablis, a German riesling from Kat’s sommelier friend, a pinot blanc blend from Mt Rosa, or Mumm by the glass.
The extensive cocktail menu – which includes a few interesting twists on classics – and the considered whiskey list are served from an immaculate white-tiled bar, which is an elegant contrast to the dining room’s bold black palette and natural wooden elements. The oversized tables were custom-built to allow enough space to comfortably accommodate mains with plenty of room for sides.
Ryan and Kat’s concept for the sophisticated fit-out came to fruition with the help of designer Stacey Smith of Twentyfivebees. Together, they created spaces suitable for intimate dining, families and larger groups. Ryan’s brother Owen Dippie installed his signature tiki artwork which leads to the charming rear dining room where Owen’s wife, Erin, has lined the wall with striking images of whole fish and scotch fillet steaks.
Alongside kitchen manager Robbie’s 30 years of experience, chef Dan Lockhart helped curate the menu, utilising a rare Spanish Mibrasa oven that takes centre stage in the kitchen. The closed barbecue design uses embers (instead of flame) to add a distinctive hint of charcoal to dry-aged scotch and charred asparagus. There’s also a smokey apple pie for dessert and, if that’s a little heavy, a theatrical mocha-gato dessert cocktail could be for you.
While steak is an obvious focus at Fife Lane, it’s far more than a steak restaurant; with options for the meat or seafood-averse such as gnocchi with Kaimai mushroom, broccoli, garlic butter and Parmesan. Ryan is a charismatic host who’ll happily to tell you his favourites on the menu and steer you towards the chef’s specialities. But, back to that steak knife box – being offered a choice of blades to slice the tenderest of cuts is an experience which just doesn’t happen often enough in life.