The name Matich’s has come to mean a lot to Dargaville — a sign gracing the main street of the town beside the Northern Wairoa River for decades, and promising a good old-fashioned meal of seafood and hot chips. While the trimmings may change, and the decor has evolved as the street around the little shop in the middle of town has moved from old Ford Populars, Zephyrs and Chrysler Valiants through to more modern sets of wheels, the new owners of this iconic eatery are keeping up a tradition of quality.
With a history in the hospitality industry, and hailing from the sunny island of Waiheke, Justine and Rick Hoggard have a passion for delivering a great dining experience. It shows through in the detail with which they have tweaked and spruced up the venerable Matich’s building, breathing more light and colour into the space while capturing a funky, retro-Kiwiana vibe.
Of course, it’s the simple but perfectly executed classics on the menu, which have attracted a buzz already, after only a week of business. Those, and the return of a window full of fresh fish and other delights from the ocean, including mussels and oysters, kina, and flounder so fresh this past Friday morning that their gills were ruby red — a sure sign, flounder fishermen will tell you, of a catch no long out of the water. Taking such a fresh morsel, treating it to a dip in homemade batter and serving it up with rich tartare sauce, crispy chips and salad with a slice of lemon in traditional, but like the game of chess, it seems to be something easy to grasp but harder to perfect. To use the same analogy, the new team at Matich’s have scored a checkmate.
With a menu full of old favourites — yes, the world famous in Dargaville savoury sausages are still a firm fixture — and some fresh twists to improve on the formula of things like burgers and hot dogs on a stick, this is dine-in or takeaway Kiwi cuisine at its grass-roots best.
The traditional name still remains proudly on the window, but in the kitchen, it’s a definite case of the best of the old and the new.