A little bit Anglo–Norman-style bistro, a little bit 70s and 80s, an influence of Porsche Le Mans and a hit of Paris, all tied together within a Wellington neighbourhood building rooted in 60s Expressive Modernism. That’s the plan for Concord, the latest venture of hospitality duo Shepherd Elliott and Sean Golding which is coming to pass on the corner of Victoria and Wakefield Streets. An eclectic mix, but don’t worry; it skilfully melds local with luxe. Sean promises, “It will be gracious, soft and luxurious, but fun.”

It’s been a while coming, as it has taken four years for all the elements to come together: the people to do it, the idea and the place.

The people: Sean and Shepherd are no strangers to those who eat and drink or stay in Wellington. With a proven talent for creating eclectic and welcoming eateries and bars, Shepherd’s credits include Ti Kouka and Leeds Street Bakery, while Sean is behind Goldings Free Dive bar, The Intrepid Hotel and The Puffin. In 2016, the pair put their talents together, opening Shepherd, the Hannah’s Laneway restaurant that garnered two hats in the Cuisine Good Food Awards. They had no qualms about working together again, saying they have an unspoken trust in each other’s ability. Sean goes further to say of Shepherd, “I have complete faith that he can do whatever he sets his mind to.”

The idea: Impeccable hospitality is always the aim, driven here by a yearning for a contemporary take on the 19th-20th century bistro. Neither a full-on traditional bistro, nor fine dining, but blending their favourite bits of both with a splash of showmanship such as tableside cart service. The pair say that this style gives them so many great avenues to explore and the history behind this type of dining gives them plenty to draw on, all the while having fun. Shepherd is polishing up a streamlined menu of traditional bistro/steakhouse-style dishes, among which he’s striving for the perfect steak. By perfect he means not just the flavour and texture, but working closely with South Island farmers around ageing, feed, sustainability and animal welfare.

The place: Getting the right location was the last piece to fall into place in this project but, as Sean says, “As soon as we found Lido, it just had to be done.” Built in the 1960s for the NZ Racing Conference and most recently the site of the Lido Café, the wedge-shaped building boasts a distinctive wavy canopy, curved floor- to-ceiling windows and quirky decorative elements such as horseshoe motifs in the handrails. To this they plan to add banquette seating, a padded central island bar in teal blue velvet edged with fluoro orange stitching and a cocktail cart to bring your martini or Manhattan tableside. “It’s most important to get the neighbourhood involved in Concord, to have a culture that is supportive. We’ve always felt part of our neighbourhood, in fact, Wellington is just one big neighbourhood.” And in return? It’s quite simple: “Give them something really good and don’t rip them off.”

Concord embodies an agreement or harmony, and here that comes as a reassuring expression of that perfect steak on a plate. Shepherd promises, “It will be comforting to eat, a meal that is beautiful.” TRACY WHITMEY