Gold Standard

Fife Lane has delivered superb nights out to locals and visitors alike for two years now, thanks to its excellent service, smart surrounds, well-executed food and all-round attention to detail.

Fife Lane has delivered superb nights out to locals and visitors alike
for two years now, thanks to its excellent service, smart surrounds,
well-executed food and all-round attention to detail.

This November marks two years since local couple Kat and Ryan Dippie opened the doors of their contemporary steakhouse located in Mount Maunganui’s Central Parade shopping strip. Fife Lane
is now a well-established institution in local dining circles, a firm favourite of many who have made the comfortably chic restaurant their regular.

The restaurant filled a much-needed gap, providing a dining choice for people residing in the
5km stretch between downtown Mount Maunganui and Bayfair, and also for people across the
bridge in Tauranga. But there is a changing local demographic since the pandemic made itself
felt, one which Kat and Ryan are happily embracing.

International visitors may be few and far between, but new faces have come steadily through the door as people identify that New Zealand is an excellent antipodean bolthole, a place to return to,
or to set up home for the first time. Many of these people are used to a certain standard of dining usually experienced abroad or in our larger cities. The Fife team have done their own travel and culinary research, which is reflected in the excellent venue and hospitality, which keeps attracting newcomers and original patrons alike.

“In the two years we’ve been open, we’ve had three months in lockdown,” Kat says. “Like other hospitality businesses, we adhere and adjust to the ever-involving environment for dining and
events. It is what it is,” she shrugs.

Chefs Matiu Kaihau and Dan Lockhart plating a dish of sous vide duck breast and confit duck leg filo parcel with spiced plum and duck jus.

One thing always remains the same at Fife Lane however, and that’s the consistency of the uncomplicated, seasonally focused menus, which the couple say are inspired by their own culinary experiences. “We don’t do boundary pushing edible creations, our focus is on creating food with unique touches,” says Kat.

Kat grew up further up the coast in Waihi Beach, Ryan in Kawerau, so both have a great appreciation of what New Zealand’s food basket has on offer. “We consider regional flavours and we ensure everything is created using locally sourced fresh ingredients, including meats, seafood and the
best-quality vegetables.” (And yes, while Fife Lane has an authentic steakhouse vibe, vegetarians
are catered for too!)

There are numerous quotes that attest to the coupling of food and love, and the team at Fife Lane offer their own take. As Kat describes their “team of couples”, a quote from the hallowed playwright and literary critic George Bernard Shaw springs to mind: “There is no love sincerer than the love of food”. So it seems, in the case of the significant others who make Fife Lane what it is. Kat and Ryan both worked at iconic Tauranga restaurant Bravo in the mid 2000s, but didn’t meet again until 2010, when they soon became a couple. Bar manager Scott Hinton and senior waitress Paige Shaw make up the newest love match, and restaurant manager Keri Harman and head chef, Robbie Webber are a couple too. The Lockhart’s locked hearts in 2016 and both joined the Fife Lane team — Daniel in the role of sous chef, Suzelle the head of functions and communications. Word is, there may be another romance afoot, aided by the fresh kitchen aromas and heady noses of the hand-picked wines that grace the shelves of the cellar library — but there’s nothing like a little mystery, so I’ll leave it there.

Staff members Paige Shaw, Keri Harman and Scott Hinton.

Back to the wine. Fife Lane is soon to release a separate cellar selection offering to their diners
— a menu of carefully chosen New Zealand wines, alongside some Australian drops, for the discerning wine drinker. These premium wines will be on offer via the Coravin wine system,
a device that enables people to enjoy a glass from a bottle without disrupting the integrity of
the remaining wine (which can keep well in the bottle for up to three weeks).

The restaurant could be described as having a smart-casual vibe, but it’s not at all uncommon
to see people ‘dressed for dinner’. And the clever design of the space offers the perfect opportunity
to simultaneously host functions of varying sizes — doors stack back to open it up, or close off areas for private gatherings.

After 3pm, it’s a popular time for people to stop by to enjoy the snacks menus, along with a cocktail or glass of wine, and unwind. Lunch is served on the last Friday of every month, but will be available every Friday leading up to Christmas (excluding 24 December).  

There’s an ever-increasing line-up of local culinary options, but Kat and Ryan say Fife Lane’s point
of difference is the consistent hospitality on offer, especially paying attention to “the little things”
— for example, they make a point of remembering what their regular guests love to eat and drink.

The new season’s menu will see the return of some old favourites, such as the beef tartare, and kokoda. The chefs are also looking forward to fresh spring asparagus and summer stone fruits
— watch this space!

512 Maunganui Rd, Mt Maunganui  
Tues–Sat, from 3pm
Story by Pip Crombie