Jano Bistro opens in historic yellow Willis St cottage
One of Willis St's heritage-listed buildings is back in business after months sitting idle, adding to the growing buzz at the bypass end of town.
Following in the footsteps of renowned Wellington restaurants White House, Citron and Petit Lyon, Jano Bistro's owners know they have big shoes to fill.
"We've got to keep up the standard - there is a legacy that we must behold," says part-owner Diana Goh.
Goh and her partner, 2014 Chef of the Capital Competition winner Pierre-Alain Fenoux, are easing into things with a soft open for friends and family over the holidays.
They say feedback so far has been good, with favourite dishes, like the pork, already emerging.
"It's served with celeriac, black pudding, pig trotter and a cider jus," Fenoux says.
Those not sold on pig trotters need not worry, Jano Bistro has an ever-changing menu of fresh, local produce offering modern New Zealand dishes.
Fenoux says the changing menu is due in part to using small suppliers but also to allow him to be creative in the kitchen.
"I get bored very easily," he says.
After 4 1/2 years at Le Canard in Thorndon, Fenoux says he is interested in experimenting beyond French cuisine.
"The cooking is not French, my accent is French," he says.
The stand-alone, heritage building Jano Bistro is housed in, was moved in 2007 when the bypass was built.
Goh's father bought the "cute little yellow house," as she says he calls it, after driving by and falling in love with it.
She says her father was undecided about what he should do with the property when he heard that Le Canard was being sold and Fenoux was looking for a new job.
"My father suggested, "well look, I have this place, would you be ready to run your own restaurant?" Goh says.
Despite changing ownership many times, the building has retained its original charm.
"We do know this was built back in the 1880s by a family that migrated here from Scotland, Mr and Mrs Drummond," says Goh.
"I think they lived here for a little bit and it's basically just been taken over by restaurants and businesses over the years."
Goh and Fenoux have kept a lot of the original features of the house, including its chimney stack and wooden floor boards.
"You never see these nails used any more," Goh says, pointing to the distinctly rectangular nail heads at the corner of each wooden board.
Putting the heritage buildings in the area to good use has long been a wish for locals, who had been concerned the history-rich houses were in danger of being forgotten.
Jano Bistro joins the newly opened Bresolin, another heritage-list venue, at the top of Willis St.
- The Dominion Post