Hospitality Business Magazine

Ben Bayly’s Origine bistro opens

Origine bistro has opened its doors adding a newly appointed and well-honed offering to Auckland’s Commercial Bay.

“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.” – Ben Bayly

A modern French bistro with a relaxed New Zealand atmosphere, Origine is owned and operated by acclaimed chef and restaurateur Ben Bayly and his wife Cara Bayly, alongside their Ahi co-owners Chris Martin and his French-born wife, Lucile Fortuna.

Origine (“ori-gene”) opened for lunch and dinner service from August 22 and will be open seven days a week, with lunch from noon and dinner service starting at 5.45pm. It’s set to carve out a welcome niche in Auckland’s hospitality scene with live music sessions and a special menu every Sunday. 

Meanwhile, Le Bar, Origine’s mezzanine level cocktail bar opened on 24 August at 5.00pm, offering a cocktail and bar snacks list built around the classics.

Bayly is delighted to add Origine to his list of ventures, which include Ahi, Ahi Organic Gardens, and The Grounds at Whoa! Studios in Auckland, as well as Aosta, Little Aosta, and Blue Door Bar in Arrowtown.

The two couples, who have a combined five decades experience in French-inspired cuisine and hospitality, are realising a long-held dream to open a French restaurant, bringing their interpretation of French food culture to Auckland.

Bayly, a self-confessed Francophile says while it’s been many months of hard work, he, Chris and Lucile have a sense of excitement finally bringing Origine to life.

“When I was first starting out in hospitality, I thought French food was the pinnacle or the ‘origin’ of all cuisines,” he says. “I went to France, I became French, I adore the way the French love to eat and they know how to enjoy a meal. We want to convey a sense of this with Origine – presenting the classics but in our own way”.

While French food might conjure images of fine dining, Bayly says Origine will be much more relaxed. “When you think about a traditional French brasserie, some just come in for an aperitif, 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.”

Calling all bons vivants! Origine is a space in which to sit and savour – the surroundings, the cuisine, the company.  A French-Kiwi purveyor of joie de vivre in every sense. Reservations are open now and can be made at

Les personnes

The 40 strong team at Origine represents an impressive wealth of hospitality experience, with many links to France.

Lucile Fortuna, Origine’s general manager, was born and bred in Lyon, and completed her hospitality management and sommelier diplomas in the city famous for its Bouchon Lyonnais brasseries. Her expertise in French wine is a huge asset to the restaurant which will showcase a wide variety of benchmark appellations and lesser-known French styles.

Ben lived in France for several years including a stint in Chamonix, the French Alps. A self-confessed Francophile, Bayly credits his time in France as giving him the blueprint to analyse and develop his version of New Zealand cuisine.

Chris has more than two decades in the industry including six years’ experience at the esteemed Vue de Monde in Melbourne under his belt and of course, almost two years running Ahi in Commercial Bay.

Executive chef Thibault Peniarbelle (Tibo) was born in Noumea and grew up in Toulouse –living in Auckland since 2011. Reinforcing the familial nature of the new restaurant, Tibo’s partner, Judika Ramcharand who was born and raised in Montréal, assumes the role as restaurant manager.

Le menu

Origine’s menu represents the best of French regional cuisine, curated to showcase the freshest and best ingredients from New Zealand. It’s built on three fundamental values of French cuisine – seasonality, terroir, and technique.

The menu is extensive and is classically divided into hors d’oeuvres (snacks), à partager (to share), pour commencer (starters), plats principaux (mains), accompagnements, les desserts, and fromages.

There’s also the additional temptation of the fruits de mer section, featuring a line-up of delectable kai moana with which diners can build a seafood tower precisely to their liking – think poisson cru à la Tahitienne, mussels smoked in the woodfire oven, gin-cured kingfish, and of course, a seasonal line-up of freshly shucked oysters with their distinctive ‘merroir’.

Reminiscent of a classic French brasserie, Les plats principaux offering features a breakout selection of steaks – from steak haché, (chopped steak) to onglet de wagyu (wagyu hanger steak), pork entrecôte (pork tenderloin) to filet de chevreuil (venison backstrap) and côte de veau (veal T bone), these are all served with fries, salad, and classic sauce.

Many of the great French dishes are accounted for – some in a way that’s instantly recognisable: soupe à l’oignon is enriched with oxtail and topped off with baguette grilled with comté, confit duck leg arrives with stuffed Savoy cabbage and Armagnac jus. Some dishes are given a Toulouse-meets-Aotearoa Tibo twist. Les escargots, for example, shed their shells to appear in ravioli, with parsley butter and garlic velouté and rhubarb soufflé is served with pain d’épices (gingerbread) ice cream.

Those who find decision-making all too much will welcome the formule du jour – daily set menu. It offers excellent value dining over two or three courses and a great avenue for Tibo and team to make the most of market-best produce throughout the seasons.

Children have their own “P’tit” breakout section with kid friendly options which include a drink, fries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream for le dessert. P’tit options from the main menu include croustillant de poisson (fish cakes), steak haché and gnocchi Parisienne au gratin.        

Conveying a sense of place on the plate is of vital importance to Ben, and at Origine, local produce and producers are proudly named on the menu – including Oliff Farms eggs, bread from La Voie Française, Annabelle fresh goats’ cheese, and Ahi Organic Garden in South Auckland.

Les boissons

Much like the food menu, the drinks list at Origine pays tribute to French tradition while grounding the experience in Aotearoa.

Downstairs, in the main restaurant, Bar Origine boasts an unrivalled range of wines, spirits and cocktails sourced from the finest French vineyards, cellars and distilleries of France, all backed by solid knowledge among the team. Those seeking an exemplary Side Car or French 75 have found their haunt.

Upstairs on the mezzanine level, Le Bar, a destination in itself is also perfect for a pre-dinner apéritif or après dinner digestif. The drinks list at this cocktail bar is built around classics, curated by Ahi’s Anton Baylon and Egor Petrov (ex-QT bar). A selection of bar snacks, with a good showing of charcuterie and cheeses, makes Le Bar a complete-night-out destination.

Le style

In the space formerly occupied by Saxon + Parole, Origine enjoys an enviable northwest aspect with floor-to-ceiling louvre windows taking in views over the sparkling Waitematā Harbour. A thorough, chic refit by the award-winning team at Jack McKinney Architects has made the very most of the 10-metre-high stud and mezzanine floor. The main floor seats 100 across banquette, bar, and table-and-chair seating, while a further 50 guests are accommodated at Le Bar on the open-plan mezzanine level, which is also available for private bookings.

A key piece of inspiration came from Jack’s visit to Maison de Verre in Paris – the ‘House of Glass’, famous for its three-story facade of glass bricks. Jack and his team have paid homage at Origine with a floor-to-ceiling wall of Austral Venetian glass bricks, flanking the entrance to the upper mezzanine level and the bar in the main restaurant. Flos suspended pendants add to the sophisticated ambience, the north-west aspect capturing the sun setting in the west making Origine a great place for a drink in the afternoon. Splashes of colour – including red leather banquette seating and tabletops covered in tiny azure micro tiles (the tiles themselves are upcycled keyboards) – bring a sense of liveliness and warmth, while the solid French oak floor offers a sense of feeling grounded while sitting above the city, and steeps the design in tradition.