If it’s true that the only three important factors in property are location, location and location, then The Oyster Inn on New Zealand’s Waiheke Island was a sure-fire success story before a dish had been served. The island is just a short hop from the big smoke of Auckland on the east side of North Island, but the lush environment of Waiheke is a world away from city life. When viewed in isolation the restaurant, a stone’s throw from Oneroa Beach, has the outward look and feel of an out-of-the-way yet meticulously maintained colonial outpost, grand in its way but not ostentatious.
The nearby beach is not so close that the fishermen could throw their catch straight through Oyster Inn’s kitchen window without disembarking, but the elevated verandah does provide diners with impressive views of the bay, and the sand is only a short stroll away if you want to walk off your meal. Sadly, with my allergies, the dining experience would be less Oyster Inn than Oyster Out, so instead attention will turn to the period timber property’s interior design rather than dwell on the very well-received, locally-sourced food from Cristian Hossack, formerly head chef at London’s Providores.
Oyster Inn is simple but elegant, crisp and white; the dining area, the bar, and the clean and fresh-looking guest rooms all provide a palpably cool atmosphere, and there are plenty of shady places to kick back and relax. In the winter when things take a turn for the chilly, guests can throw a log or two in the wood-burning stove and relax with a good book, or use the dipping temperature as an excuse to warm themselves with some of the original drinks on offer from the bar.
True, those cocktails and the shop merchandise provide the main sources of colour at Oyster Inn, but this perfectly presented pearl is pretty dazzling nonetheless.