Over 100 years old, Duke’s Bar and Restaurant has been entertaining Rotorua locals and visitors alike for absolute yonks. The gorgeous bar has a bit of a private members feel, but without any of the snobbishness, and the impeccable décor and cool vibe set the scene for a relaxed and fun experience. If you are a part of Rotorua, Duke’s is your place. If you are travelling through, Duke’s will welcome you and you will be glad you came.
The food is an inspired mix of modern and traditional and features a long list of all-time classic favourites. All dishes are cooked to order and as you would expect most items on the menu are made in-house by our team of skilled chefs. Head chef Digraj Singh (DJ) champions the use of fresh seasonal produce from local suppliers so that guests can expect exciting flavours showcasing the best of New Zealand’s diverse range of superb foods.
Duke’s has various dining options to tempt and suit all palates and occasions for your visit to what we are sure will become your favourite venue in Rotorua. We believe that a good dining experience is about so much more than just the food. So much of enjoying food is about how you view it, the impression it makes on you: the colours, the symmetry or lack of, the shine or the layers. In addition to the beautiful plating of the food, your surroundings while you eat are just as important. Whether it’s the warm welcome of the leather chairs and dark wood tables in the bar or the gratifying clomp of a heel on the original wooden flooring – restaurant interiors really matter, they are the stage for the grand performance and we trust that you enjoy the surroundings of our delightful Duke’s Bar and Restaurant.
The perfect venue for special events, functions and meetings of all sorts. Anniversaries, birthdays, baby showers, corporate events/meetings, weddings, music, theatre and much more.
With various venue spaces available which we can configure setup to suit. We can help you to organise your event and cater for everything you need.
An award-winning chef to cater for your event, whether it’s a breakfast, lunch, dinner or morning/afternoon tea. With many food choices available – buffet, fine dining, casual dining, high teas and more, we can take the hassle out of cooking for you.
With an onsite bar, courtyard, lounge and dining rooms, it’s the perfect spot to relax in, surrounded by historic architectural beauty.
In keeping with a lot of what has been mistranslated over the years from the original meaning of things from elsewhere, the High Tea, as commonly known and referred to here in New Zealand, is in fact what is known in England as Afternoon Tea.
Despite its name, high tea originated with the lower classes. Dinner was served around midday in the 1800s, but in practice, working stiffs didn’t have the luxury of an afternoon lunch break, so they took tea right after work with heartier fare – like pies, meats and cheeses – to sate their hunger. It is believed that the name “High Tea” probably evolved from the fact that this evening meal was served at proper dinner tables, rather than on couches or settees.
But here at Duke’s bar & Restaurant we serve our famous “High Tea” during the afternoon and in the Style of the English “Afternoon Tea” which will comprise of a tea-related ritual, introduced in Britain in the early 1840s. It evolved as a mini meal to stem the hunger and anticipation of an evening meal at 8pm. This delightful afternoon extravagance will be composed of sandwiches, scones with jam and thickened cream, sweet pastries and cakes and an array of various teas, and of course coffees. It’s also great fun, and highly popular, to indulge in a glass of bubbly with your High Tea, it is fact now a recognised New Zealand tradition, and we love traditions at Dukes.
A delectable treat that incorporates a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones served with cream and jam, an assortment of sweet patisserie items and an extensive selection of fine Dilmah Teas and barista style coffees. Minimum 2 guests.
Upgrade to a Deluxe High Tea by adding a glass of bubbles for $39 per person.
A delightful alternative to the sweet traditional high tea. Enjoy freshly baked scones, open steak on a Yorkshire pudding with horseradish cream and grilled prawn skewer. Added sweet items too. Served with a selection of teas and coffees.
To purchase a voucher online please click on the gift certificate button below or contact us directly by clicking on the contact us button. Our friendly and attentive staff will be on hand to help you organise your gift arrangements. When calling, please have your credit card ready and any personalised message you would like to add (eg. Happy Mother’s Day). Once the voucher is transacted, it will be emailed to your nominated email address.
The Duke chose to make this bar and restaurant his home away from home and his larger than life character still fills the place with his warm and friendly demeanour. It is our invitation to you to come and join us at Dukes and to soak up that atmosphere that traditions, legends and fond memories are made of. See you soon!
An in-depth search has been conducted of the early records of Rotorua around the time of the opening of Prince’s Gate Hotel, with the objective of ascertaining the reality or not of a real person whose name and /or presence gave rise to naming the bar “Duke’s.”
We are pleased to tell you that a number of interesting facts have been unearthed pertaining to the early life of Prince’s Gate hotel in Rotorua following its relocation from the Coromandel district (Waihi), and am confident about the conclusions.
There is no evidence of the name Duke before the hotel opened in Arawa Street Rotorua and no suggestion that the man named Duke had any pecuniary interest or any named staff position in the hotel’s journey. There is however clear evidence that soon after the hotel opened a group of colourful “regulars” emerged whose presence gave the bar an atmosphere akin to an English pub, so that it resembled a place like home to the growing number of ex-pat immigrants who were attracted to the region. Among these was a young man named Barrington who stood out because of his clothes and monocle and his behaviour that resembled that of the “landed gentry.” At first labeled as eccentric, he quickly became the centre of attention because of his seemingly unending source of money, and his spirit of generosity that made sure every patron had a refilled glass.
There was intrigue concerning his background as he had no wife and made no mention of family, here or back in England. He spoke about having lived in Hong Kong for a period, and that he had been an advisor to the English military and was known and respected in high places. The fact that the drinks were on him frequently was enough to satisfy most of the patrons that he was a good man. Where he had come from was of no concern.
However, those with an inquiring mind were quick to note that before long he was calling himself Duke and it followed quickly that the Bar at Prince’s Gate Hotel was Duke’s Bar. In a short time, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who called him by his name, Barrington.
The research soon concluded that he was not the Duke Of Barrington, there being no such title evident, so attention turned to possible family roots that may be of interest. The
Barrington family that was closed in on was a family noted for importing foodstuffs to England, particularly spices and chocolate and tea. The head of that family, Charles Bernard Barrington was one of the first to establish his company in India following its annexation by the English. The details of his recorded history tell that he was a friend of the Duke of Wellington and at one stage travelled to East Asia with the Duke at the time he was negotiating with the Chinese for greater access for trade with that vast country. Of course, that mission ended in shame for the Duke of Wellington and the opium war that ensued. One of the outcomes was the decision of the English to lease from the Chinese a virtually unused harbour called Hong Kong, and as that began to become a major trading base, the name Barrington was on one of the trading companies. Charles Bernard had a wife who bore him a son who was named Bernard Charles and who at the right time was sent home to England to study and then return to HK and the family business. The family notes mention that young Bernard was regularly in the company of the 2nd Duke of Wellington, the 1st Dukes son, with whom he formed a close and lasting friendship. When the time came for the son to return to Hong Kong he reluctantly obeyed but made it clear he had no interest in the family business.
There is a gap in the record of the family, but it is known that the senior Barrington died in Asia in middle age and his widow sold all assets and returned to England. Her son did not follow and in the absence of any other information it is assumed he stayed in Hong Kong. A few years later he was the only beneficiary of his mother’s estate when she died, and it is noted that he had no interest in returning to England but left Hong Kong to explore the antipodes. Could he be the “Duke” of the English symbol in Rotorua? Several things suggest it is so; his likeness to his father was confirmed by a close friend of his father who, when questioned about this young man, recognized the characteristics that were used to describe him as being uncannily similar to the physical stature and features of his friend and in particular his eccentric habits, also his unlimited supply of money, his desire to assume the name Duke in recognition of the care and concern given by the Duke of Wellington, and his practice of care and concern for others potentially lonely and away from home.
We dare to say he deserves the name, and the name deserves him. Let Duke’s Bar and Restaurant be a place like home, a place where whoever you are you are welcomed and embraced, a place of warmth and excellent food and drink. If you are a part of Rotorua, Duke’s is your place. If you are travelling through, Duke’s will welcome you and you will be glad you came.
Footnote: Sadly, the Duke did spend it all and only occasionally will someone tell you, “the drinks are on me.” But maybe you’ll be surprised!