My Happy Place: Sarah and Otis Frizzell at THE SURREY HOTEL

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We are in the Surrey Hotel which is based on Surrey Crescent in Grey Lynn. It is absolutely a must visit place free from wankers and snobbery. It’s also a hotel, hence the name the Surrey Hotel. It’s just a down to earth awesome place that no one really knows about or would come to but we think you should visit.

It’s kind of like an English pub which is why we quite like it because they don’t really exist here. There’s no pretense. You get a cold pint in a pint glass with a handle, there’s a couple of dirty ash trays scattered around which adds to the aesthetic, there’s a cat that comes to sit on your knee, and you can still get a pint for $7.50 which is pretty rad.

I think its  a bit of a nostalgic hangover for me (Sarah). When I was growing up every Sunday we’d go somewhere like this with the family. Then it got to the age when it was the last place I wanted to  be and I hated it. Now I’m 35 years old and I’m on the other side of the world and I’ve eaten the best food and drunk the best wine. I come here and I think it’s so not trying to be anything that it’s actually way cooler than any other place trying to be cool.

Personally (Otis) I like a crisp lager. I’m not a fan of hoppy beers and Mac’s Gold is a perfectly acceptable crisp lager. Also they’ve only got two beers on tap – one of them is Speights and one of them is Mac’s Gold and I don’t really like Speights so its a very easy decision to make.

I’m a bit of a food wanker but not a drink wanker (Sarah), not with beer, I’m a working class English girl who just likes a pint of lager.

When my family (Sarah) came over from the UK when we got married in 2011, half of them stayed here before we drove to Hawke’s Bay. It’s in between our house and everywhere else. It’s pretty hard to miss because a road runs through the Surrey Hotel.

It’s one of those “always meant to go” that finally came and was like, why did it take us so long? We don’t go out to the pub very often so we’re here about once a month. Usually we’re on the couch drinking Chardonnay and watching Netflix. We like plain lager but we like oaky Chardonnays.

Our hood is still quite cool, it has the Pacific Island dairy, the TAB, and the dry cleaner merged with the Grey Lynn Butchers, Video Ezy, and Tiger Burger – it’s becoming trendy but it’s still a bit rough and ready. It’s good in a way but without places like The Surrey everywhere will end up becoming Ponsonby Road. It’s just honest. You can get a roast and you can get a pint. It’s substance without the song and dance.

As told by Sarah and Otis Frizzell, co-founders and owner/operators of The Lucky Taco

My Happy Place: Jamie Buckley at THE ROSE

Jamie Buckley at The Rose Irish Pub

We’re at The Rose Irish Pub (Napier). We’re here for a number of reasons – they have delicious Guinness, it’s Sunday, and on a wintery Sunday at this time of night this is a very happy place to be.

I went right through Catholic schools so somehow there’s an affinity there with the Irish and somewhere on my Dad’s side there’s an Irish connection so there’s some sort of ancestral throwback coming through to a hungering to drink Guinness. It’s quite a warm kind of glow you know – have three or four and you’re nice and relaxed. And full.

This spot in particular is close to where I’m living so it means that I can walk home. Now with the drinking limit lowered you can’t really take any chances. Especially in our industry – I’m super conscious of that so coming down here is key because I can walk and it’s free. 

The food is super simple. I got bangers and mash tonight. I just love bangers and mash eh. That and burgers. Just real basic meaty filling carbs. We didn’t really grow up like foodies. The kind of thing we grew up doing as kids with family was all getting together, you go to your aunty’s and have burgers and that was a big deal. These kinds of places just feel really comfortable, like what you’re used to.

You’re not going to find any life in winter on Sunday in the bay really anywhere but here. There’s these guys – one of the best kept secrets in the bay I reckon – The Bold Decievers. They play from 6pm – 8pm every Sunday. This stuff’s going back down the generations of stories and legends and culture and they’re banging it out right here. I like music so it’s nice to come down here and get a little dapple on and if anyone’s visiting on a Sunday at this time I’ll bring them here because it’s just got some nice energy.

The whole man cave kind of thing fits into the Irish theme so you’ve got gambling and pokies – I like to have a dabble, it’s fun. My mum likes it so when she comes to visit I bring her here, we drink and we play.  And then dad likes pool – there’s pool tables here as well. You’ve got sport on the TV, if there’s important things on like the NBA finals or random stuff going on you can come down here and ask them to chuck it on. 

If you look around the whole place its pretty well put together as a concept. I like the way its all divided up so you can hide in a corner. I pretty much never see anyone I know here which is kind of funny. You’re talking to people all the time at work and you walk around and you know people everywhere you go but somehow here I don’t bump into people. It’s totally underground.

As told by Jamie Buckley, manager of Mexi Mama

My Happy Place: Ella O’Dowd at CRAZY GOOD

Ella O'Dowd at Crazy Good

We started coming here on a regular basis when Gus (son) was 3 – 4 months old. As soon as he started getting fussy Ryan (barista/manager) would pick him up, take him by the coffee machine, chill him out, show him the buttons, everything.

I think making coffee while I was pregnant set Gus in good stead for being calm around the machine, the grinder, and the noise, so now he loves it. To this day Crazy Good (Ahuriri) is one of Gus’ favourite places to go. He just feels at home and Ryan’s so awesome with him. I consider him a mate now as well. Ryan’s a dude.

Today I’m drinking turmeric because I’ve had coffee overload. Usually I drink a regular flat white. Ryan nails it every single time. I love Origin Earth milk and sometimes I feel like an easier blend so Firsthand is perfect for that. I can do four coffees in a day no worries but I’m trying to be a bit conscious about it.

Usually I meet up with my friend Elizabeth who works at Wright & Co. We have a bit of a natter, generally a couple of coffees, an almond croissant and then a takeaway coffee to go down to the park. That’s the other great thing about this place. When Gus does start getting a bit annoying – you can put that in there, ANNOYING – we can just go for a walk to the park because its right there.

I think if you start taking kids out to places like this from a young age then they’re going to have respect for places like this later on.

Gus knows that he cant run around and scream. It’s good training for Gus. No doubt he’s gonna be a hospo kid through and through.

We just saw like, four regulars. Oh Napier – everyone’s here. I do like the fact that when I come in I see some of my regulars and we have a bit of banter about the fact that they’re here because I’m not at Smith’s or sometimes they come here because I am at Smith’s.

I like that our regulars are regulars at lots of different places because Napier is so small and it’s really hard in hospitality. We need people to be supporting everyone. I really like supporting small businesses. I know that Al’s (Al Borrie, owner of Crazy Good, Firsthand Coffee, and Box Espresso) got a young family as well so I want to support him.

As told by Ella O’Dowd, manager at F.G. Smith Eatery / eatdrinksharehb

My happy place: Dan Norman at COMMON ROOM

Common Room (Hastings) is the coolest bar in town. Its a really neat collection of spaces, all pretty eclectic in their design with lots of little nooks and comfortable seats. It reminds me of a British pub – it’s got that feel about it – as opposed to what I would call a New Zealand bar. No TVs, nothing to distract you, just a good place to come and have a beer with a couple of friends and put the world to rest. 

My favourite thing about Common Room is the decor. Today I walked in and thought, wow that’s changed! It gives that feeling of wanting to sit down and stay here as opposed to having a beer, then another, before going somewhere else. You don’t want to go down the road to another bar.

I’m drinking the Zeelandt Vienna Lager. It was the first beer I saw when I walked in and it struck me as something I wanted to drink. I’ve had a couple of beers already today so now I’m just carrying on. There’s a good selection of drinks here, they’re big into craft beer.

We’re outside in the garden today in the sunshine but there are lots of little places to sit inside when it’s dark in the middle of winter. We came here on their one year anniversary and there was jazz on, we went out for pizza and came here afterwards, hung out for an hour and listened to some music, it was great.

It’s a convenient space – local to home – we live within walking distance and drive past it on the way from from work in Napier. It ticks all the right boxes for me.

A local is sometimes not your closest bar, it’s somewhere where you feel most welcome.

Common Room is a couple of years old now and I’ve been coming here since it opened. I’ve got a two year old and a three and a half year old so coming out for a beer is a luxury. When the boys and I go out and catch up we normally end up coming here or when the wife and I have a date night we’ll have a quick beer before going to the movies or a glass of wine afterwards. 

Gerard Barron (owner) started out just being a sole barman. You’d come in and you used to talk to him when it was quiet with no one else in the bar in his first couple of months. Now he’s got busier and has staff but he still talks to his customers and always says hello when you come in. It’s one of the nice things about the place.

As told by Dan Norman, GM for Opera Kitchen Limited / eatdrinksharehb