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Commercial Bay's Stunning New Modern French Bistro Origine Is Opening Its Doors

The magnifique new jewel in Commercial Bay's crown is the brainchild of two of the country's hospitality powerhouses Ben Bayly and Chris Martin, along with their wives.
By Sarah Templeton
August 16, 2022
By Sarah Templeton
August 16, 2022

Commercial Bay's fantastic food offering is about to get a French twist: brand-new French bistro Origine is set to make its hotly anticipated debut on Monday, August 22.

It was first announced back in June that two of the country's hospitality stalwarts would be bringing their combined talents — and that of their partners — to launch a new eatery in the double-level space formerly belonging to Saxon + Parole.

Origine (pronounced "Ori-gene") is the brainchild of acclaimed chef and restaurateur Ben Bayly (Aosta, Little Aosta, Ahi) and wife Cara, and Chris Martin (Ahi, Melbourne's Vue du Monde) and his French-born wife, Lucile Fortuna. If that wasn't enough of a drawcard, they've also already snapped up some powerhouses for the 40-strong staff team including Toulouse-raised executive chef Thibault Peniarbelle (ex-Cassia / The Grove / Apero).

Josh Griggs

With so much combined experience at the helm, we should have known the new eatery wouldn't be doing anything by halves: it's set to open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, alongside a mezzanine cocktail bar open five evenings a week.

The extensive menu has been curated to represent classic French regional cuisine — using the freshest and best ingredients from around Aotearoa, of course. And when we say extensive, we mean it: the mammoth menu is split into divided into hors d'oeuvres (snacks), à partager (to share), pour commencer (starters), plats principaux (mains), accompagnements, child-friendly 'p'tit' options, les desserts and fromages.

Even if you're not enjoying a Euro-summer with your friends you can pretend to be dining on Champs-Elysée with this huge delicious lineup of classic French fare: think oysters, steak, frites, confit duck, French onion soup, soufflé... And yes, even escargot.

Josh Griggs

Those that get decision-making anxiety will probably want to opt for the formule du jour – a daily set menu offering two or three courses at excellent value.

But don't worry, Origine is not about intimidating fine dining. Bayly says it will be relaxed and ready to cater to the masses.

"When you think about a traditional French brasserie, some just come in for an aperitif," he explained. "Origine is very much a venue where you can just pop in and pop out. Or it could be all-day champagne and oysters – the full works."

If you're just after a few snacks and drinks, head to the appropriately-named Le Bar, the mezzanine-level cocktail bar which opens officially on Wednesday, August 24, offering a cocktail and bar snacks list built around the classics.

Josh Griggs

It's worth heading up there for the views of the eatery alone: the giant space has been given a chic refit by the team at Jack McKinney Architects, but still boasts the same floor-to-ceiling louvre windows with jaw-dropping views over the Waitematā Harbour. Offsetting those is a floor-to-ceiling wall of Austral Venetian glass bricks, inspired by Jack's visit to Maison de Verre in Paris – the 'House of Glass', famous for its three-story facade of glass bricks.

Josh Griggs

Seating 100 across the restaurant and a further 50 at Le Bar, this exciting new addition to Auckland's hostility scene is big on space, menu and hype. Salut!

Origine, found on the second floor of Commercial bay, will open its doors to the public on Monday, August 22. It will be open seven days a week, with lunch from 12pm and dinner service starting at 5.45pm.

Top images: Josh Griggs

Published on August 16, 2022 by Sarah Templeton
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