Never short of bars to repair to after a hard day at the beach, Nelson saw a whole new rash of openings late last year, just in time for the long, lovely summer season.

Local notable Daniel Monopoli (the Boat Shed Café) launched Parts and Service, selling beer and honest hunks of meat by weight, while Matt Bouterey (from the Urban Oyster Bar) has converted the landmark Harry’s Bar into Harry’s Hawker House, an instantly popular pan-Asian eatery placating the young with loud live bands and the usual line-up of bang bangs and crying tigers.

But for cocktails or wine and really well-presented, sophisticated tapas in an equally genteel courtyard, Nelson foodies now clearly favour a third newcomer, Arden.

Elegant, newly laid flagstones snuggle up unselfconsciously against the neighbour’s corrugated-iron fence, whose anarchic grape vine flops over. The trunks of two heavily pollarded silver birch trees punctuate the space like pillars.

Arden is named for an ancestor of co-owner Lisa Penketh, who with her partner Logan Ursell has resettled in Nelson after a decade in Melbourne.

Ursell’s crossover menu is very Melbourne, in that it assumes a level of culinary sophistication most certainly not manifest in every Nelsonian bent on steak and wedges. Fillets of anchovy appear in two dishes of Arden’s somewhat abbreviated menu, while goat’s cheese pops up three times.

The anchovy atop the croute, we established, was the marinated white variety, relatively mild, which is actually acceptable to mainstream palates. “Not the hairy, greasy sort,” our pleasant young Nordic tourist-waiter quipped.

But underneath the grilled red capsicum, an exhilarating joltarama lay in wait – a rust-coloured cream absolutely humming with ground-up essence of the hairy one. Served on house sourdough, it’s perfect with a glass of Arden’s Californian chardonnay (Land of Saints) or better still, their minerally, deliciously oily viognier from Millton.

As a hater of goat’s cheese, my guest understandably spurned my offer of a gorgeously crunchy and creamy fresh goat’s cheese gougère, made with faultless choux pastry and circled with full-on aromatic honey and house-grown thyme.

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