• Harriet Byrnes and Ian Shields.
  • Harriet Byrnes and Ian Shields.

Heritage and Heart 

Vic Road Kitchen’s Labour of Love

There’s a whole lot of love at Vic Road Kitchen; love of good food, love of the Shore, love of, well, each other, for Front Of House Manager Harriet Byrnes and Head Chef Ian Shields. The pair are engaged to be married as they launch their restaurant venture on Devonport’s main street with Harriet’s sister Lucy Byrnes and her partner Craig Wright. 

The four foodies have combined their energies to create something special for Devonport. Vic Road Kitchen is getting tongues wagging, for all the right reasons, with it’s blend of the freshest food, a low-waste approach and a rustic vibe with a lot of heart.

Inspired by a road trip to the USA, Harriet and Ian who met at a vineyard on Waiheke Island, have taken the bold step of using their combined food and wine experience to create Vic Road Kitchen. 

“I was doing a wine course on Waiheke and was at one of the vineyards over there when I met Ian - yes, we’ve been all about food and wine right from the start! 

“A trip to the States unsurprisingly turned into a wine and food adventure. We got inspired by what the USA is doing at the moment; there’s more of a movement towards local, seasonal produce to create really simple food, done well. We’ve followed that in what we’re bringing to Vic Road Kitchen.”

Sisters Harriet and Lucy Byrnes are both former Takapuna Grammar School students who grew up here on the Shore. Both their partners are from the north of England; Ian from Liverpool and Craig from Manchester. The pair are co-owners of the business. Craig is Bar Manager, having extensive bar management work behind him in Europe and Greece. Ian is Head Chef - his 18 years’ experience as a chef includes heading up kitchens in Queenstown and Waiheke Island. He chatted whilst preparing lunch.

“We’re really happy with the rustic look and feel of this building; the brick and steel. It’s exactly what we were looking for when we decided to start this venture together. It could almost be in Liverpool! And that rustic look reflects our food; simple and strong, with the freshest ingredients and a new menu every day.”

Having a fresh menu every day can’t be easy, but it’s a novel approach that ensures the freshest produce is sourced, waste is minimised and customers seem to love it. “We’re getting a lot of good feedback on the fact that our menu changes daily,” says Harriet. “It enables us to only serve what’s freshly available each day. We’re passionate about only sourcing from suppliers who share our philosophies around fresh, seasonal produce and Ian is passionate about minimising waste, so have the changing menu every day suits what we're about.”

A very popular dish in the opening weeks has been the Beef Carpaccio, and the fresh seafood is a winner. “Seafood fits well in Devonport, being a seaside village - it’s always popular. People seem to like that they can come in one evening and have completely different options next time, even if it’s the next day!”

And the philosophy around local, seasonal fresh produce translates to the wine list and beer selections too. Harriet has had fun putting together the drinks offerings and each choice comes with a story. “We wanted to work with vineyards and breweries that share our ideas, that tell a story, to have meaning behind the menu. Mondillo in Cental Otago, for example, is run by great friends of ours who share our passion, and whose Pinot Noir is out of this world! And Man O’War is a special place for us,” she smiles. A range of six beers and ciders are on tap from Hamilton brewery Good George and include a great autumnal Doris Plum cider, perfectly seasonal this month. 

Before following her passion to study wine, Harriet worked in event management, including roles in London, and is keen to combine both these strands to create wine events at Vic Road Kitchen. The building, which was originally the Edinburgh Bakery in the late 19th century, has an area at the far end that lends itself perfectly to a function space for such events and large group dining. 

Some of the original features of the Edinburgh Bakery have been unveiled during the renovations, such as the old brick oven which is now a feature behind the bar area. And the large, old framed photograph of the bakery on the wall connects the building with its roots. This is a place not just to soak up a drink from Harriet's meaningfully-curated menu with one of Ian’s hearty fresh food creations, but a place to soak up a taste of Devonport’s heritage. Vic Road Kitchen is already shining as a superb Shore example of hospitality, with history and heart. 

Vic Road Kitchen, 57 Victoria Road, Devonport 09 445 9797 www.vicroadkitchen.co.nz 

Open Tuesday to Sunday for dinner, Thursday to Sunday for lunch, Saturday and Sunday for brunch.