A passion for food and hospitality runs in the family for Alastair and Melanie Hunt who operate the neighbourhood restaurant, Monkey Farm Bar & Eatery at Wanaka’s Northlake Estate.
Mel and Alistair, who is the current New Zealand Davis Cup tennis coach, have operated four restaurants in Christchurch for the past nine years before selling and making the move to Wanaka.
“We opened our first café after the 2011 earthquakes in Church Corner, Christchurch and developed a fantastic local following,” says Mel. “We started our very popular two for one pizza nights and daily happy hour specials which we have now bought to our Wanaka restaurant along with our ‘kids eat for free’ nights. They are great incentives and locals are loving them.”
“It has always been Al’s dream to live in Wanaka and when the opportunity came up we jumped at bringing our two young sons Eli and Lochie to live here and especially having the chance to work alongside Independent Breweries who support us with their premium brands Asahi and Peroni.”
The stylish restaurant and bar caters for families and visitors to tradies and everyone in between and is open from 8.00am until late.
“I really enjoyed creating a cosy interior atmosphere mixing and matching eclectic furnishings and our famous framed monkey prints. The outside area is amazing with a large open area, bean bags and tables where we often have live music in summer. We have grand plans for open air cinema nights, balls and other cool events that Wanaka misses out on.”
Mel says the focus is on good, healthy dishes that are well priced with good portions.
“Brunch runs until 3.00pm with dishes like all-day breakfast, avocado smash and eggs anyway you like them. The ‘shares and pizza’ menu kicks in at 3.00pm offering burgers, polenta fries & truffle aioli, salads, fried chicken and our deliciously rustic pizzas.”
Dinner is from 5.00pm with mains including New Zealand lamb rump, Hoki fillets, prawn fettucine pasta, squid and candied walnut salad and a 250gm Angus ribeye.
“We keep things nice and relaxed with the kitchen crew and our chefs have the freedom to be creative which they love. Kids can order anything off the day menu for just $12, plus we have a kids’ dinner menu and they eat for free from 5.00pm each Saturday,” she says.
The restaurant serves Atomic Roaster coffee and has a selection of tasty cabinet food for people wanting a quick grab and go lunch or snack.
“We also cater for events such as birthdays, weddings and parties with no venue hire charge and can organise ‘clear’ marquee hire from Prestige Marquees. The two for one pizza nights on a Monday and Tuesday have been our biggest attraction and locals are really supporting this either dining in or take out. The new website, developed with Pip Cawthorn from Wanaka Creative, has been launched and people can order from the entire menu online, reserve a table and earn ‘monkey rewards.’”