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New name and new style for popular eatery


Evan King - Freehouse-736The doors have been open for some time and locals have been able to monitor the progress as the former Sail Rock Cafe is about to morph into Wood Street Freehouse.

Tradesmen are busy and new owner Evan King even moreso as he organises staff, menus, and beverages while still running a similar establishment, The Lumsden Freehouse in Newmarket, Auckland. Wood Street Freehouse is planning to be open for business on the Wednesday prior to Labour Weekend.

Many locals will not be familiar with the old English term ‘freehouse’ but it simply means the establishment has no specific association with any particular brewery or their product, allowing the host to stock a wider range of beverages and more boutique lines. Evan has a long association with the Sawmill at Matakana and Schippers Brewery in Warkworth. “We will stock all craft beers with six on tap,” says Evan “and also have a range of local wines but with special consideration for our female diners we’re going to challenge your tastes with a variety of food and drink combinations.” This means diners can also expect a change in menu. “We will have some pleasant surprises in store,” says Evan.

Looking to steer away from traditional European dining, the newly appointed American chef with 20 years experience is well-versed in a variety of tastes and styles: slow cooked meats, smaller dishes, smoked barbecue-type meals, tapas, a new slow-style of marinated ribs done the American way with his own spice mix and 24 hour preparation, and of course American style chicken wings.

His staff will include rostered members of the Auckland team but a number of local faces will also be seen on kitchen and front of house duties. The outside area of the restaurant is now a deck and over summer will sport a permanent barbecue and oyster bar. “We’re going to be heavy on seafood,” adds Evan, not giving any more away for the moment. Of his move to Mangawhai, Evan is no stranger having holidayed here with family for years. “I love the place as do many of my Auckland customers,” he says. “I was getting close to buying property here but ended up buying a business.”

Opening in time for the build-up to busy summer trade, Wood Street Freehouse will be open seven days over summer. In typical ‘new broom’ fashion, Evan has “lots of ideas for the future” but for now is just looking forward to serving the locals, enticing them with wholesome food prepared just a little differently and enjoying all the things Mangawhai has to offer.
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