Exciting things have been happening at Black Barn Bistro as the top-class restaurant moves with the times.

The Havelock North bistro's owner, Henry Gordon, wanted to make the international level restaurant a little less formal.

"We have recently completed some renovations which have achieved this goal," he said.

"We now have a fully functional bar and an open fire area with comfortable couches where patrons can sit and have a casual drink.

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"The changes were much needed. There was a lot of empty space - it's warmed up and divided the area.

"The aim was to make our customers feel more relaxed. I think Hawke's Bay diners like things a little less formal. We don't use white tablecloths anymore, you don't have to book, you can come in and just have a casual drink and perhaps something from the bar menu.

"The response has been amazing. People are coming in for a casual drink - there's nothing like sitting by the fire on a cold winter's day sipping on a glass of red wine, eating cheese and watching the weather outside."


Another thing that has changed at Black Barn Bistro is the way they plan their menu.

"In the past the menu would change four times a year with the seasons," Henry said.

"That wasn't really working as some fruit and vegetables have such a short season. What we do now is we are constantly evolving the menu as things come in and out of season as opposed to right, we have a winter menu because it's winter and now we have a summer menu because it's summer.

"It makes for a much more interesting and refreshing menu. Our head chef Daniel Pistone and his kitchen team continue to progress and evolve the cuisine and to build a culinary identity for Hawke's Bay."

Black Barn was chosen by The Bachelor NZ during its last series to film its final episodes.
The wanted a location that was romantic, luxurious and private.

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"Black Barn Vineyards fitted the brief. They approached us and it was of course all kept confidential. We are considered a romantic getaway, we host a lot of weddings. It has been amazing exposure for us."

Three episodes of the programme were shot on site with more than 2 million people watching the shows.

"One of the dates had a private lodge and I was their private chef. It was lots of fun."

Black Barn Vineyards has 16 luxury retreats. Henry says his plans for the future of the bistro are to be "ever evolving as any good restaurant should".

"We will continue creating one of the best winery restaurant experiences in New Zealand."

*Live music in the sol-lounge will be returning and DJs will be returning over summer.