You may know Morri Street by its old name, Morrison Street Café, but it doesn’t matter what you call it the important thing is they have great food, excellent coffee and a warm, buzzy café environment.
Kay Field established Morrison Street Café in a small building around the corner from the current premises in Morrison Street, it seated about 10 people inside and had a small outdoor area. My first real memory of Morrison Street café was a warm, sunny Sunday after a big night at a Business Awards function. We sat in a courtyard bathed in sunlight and recovered with delicious food and coffee (plenty of coffee!)
After relocating to the current premises the outdoor area was set in the garden centre of the Mitre 10 next door before that moved to Stoke and the area surrounding the café became Morrison Square. Eight years later it was time for a refresh so Field rebranded as Morri Street, redecorated the interior and freshened up the menu.
Field’s food career started long before she set up the original Morrison Street Café; when she left school it was off to Auckland where she completed the cordon bleu course under the guidance of tutor Julie Biuoso and other great foodies before working in several places in Auckland with people like Ray McVinnie.
Field returned to Nelson for family reasons and because she had had enough of the big city, she says “hospitality in a big city is fun and social when you are young but it can be very tough and tiring”.
On her return she set up a catering business working from home before her father suggested she set up a commercial kitchen and “if you are going to have a commercial kitchen for catering you may as well serve the food in a café setting too” she says. She was inspired by Asian flavours that are light, fresh and packed with flavour and those flavours became the core of her new café.
Building on the success of Morrison Street Field partnered with Adrian Hill to set up a tiny but outstanding Oyster Bar at the other end of Hardy St and while this proved successful it was really a one-person business so she sold her share to Hill. Always looking for other opportunities Field opened a small café at Cable Bay as well as keeping an eye on Morrison Street, “the hours were crazy and not what I had intended but Cable Bay is such a lovely place to be I enjoyed my time working there”.
When Mitre 10 relocated and became Mitre 10 Mega Field set up the café there too before selling it a couple of years later.
Looking back at these businesses Field’s influence on the Nelson café scene has been significant and it hasn’t stopped, she is always looking at food trends and while she saw that New Zealanders have a love of Asian style foods, and her menu used to be heavily focussed on these flavours, Field has introduced other flavours to meet the demand from diners.
With the rebrand to Morri Street Café she added dishes with Moroccan flavours along with Korean flavours and food styles. Dishes like kimchi and Kombucha which is a fermented tea and Nasi Lemak, which is a traditional Maylasian breakfast dish of quite spicy coconut rice with roasted cashews and boiled eggs with a really spicy sambal served on the side are proving popular. The new menu also includes both plain and gluten free pancakes, Socca chickpea pizza that is more like a pancake than a pizza and is a favourite French street-food dish.