Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tirohana Estate, Martinborough

42 Puruatanga Road

The Tirohana Estate, just outside the centre of Martinborough and was the only one of the many wineries that was open for dinner when we were in town on a Thursday. They even had a shuttle to pick us up from our accommodation and whisk us to the beautiful location followed by a friendly welcome from the staff. The dining room was fairly small, probably seating 30, and was pretty full over the course of the evening.

The menu at dinner is a set 5 course $59 per person prix fixe affair and kicked off with a amuse bouche of parmesan pannacotta, which I didn't mind but wasn't a winner with the better half who preferred the 'Sauvignon Squeeze' aperitif.

To start I had the soup of the day - local mushroom with truffle oil , served with estate bread brushed with local olive oil. It was flavoursome and not too heavy.

The crumbed tiger prawns were a hit.

I chose the main of fish of the day poached in a tomato, kalamata olive and red wine sauce with a feta and onion salad, which was fantastically flavoursome but slightly overpowered the fish.

The fillet of Angus Beef au poivre, brandy cream sauce, green beans, baby carrots was beautifully tender even cooked medium, but the pepper was a little full on.

We went outside to enjoy the views across the vines...

...and the sunset before tackling dessert.

I rarely eat dessert and was keen to try the spiced pumpkin bread and butter pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream. It lived up to my expectations and surprisingly wasn't over sweet.


The apple, almond and cranberry filo with almond and manuka ice cream was also a success.

Finally were presented with our petit fours, mini lemon drizzle cakes...

Dining at Tirohana Estate was a great experience and most of the dishes were great. The atmosphere and service were wonderful too, well worth a visit!

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Masonic Hotel

2 Tennyson Street

While in Napier we couldn't go past eating in the Emporium Eatery and Bar in the magnificent Art Deco Masonic Hotel on Marine Parade across from the beach.

Inside the recent refurbishment was stylish and in keeping with the thirties style.

We shared the pull apart bread to stave off our hunger, this came with a bottle of Village Press extra virgin olive oil and some tart apple syrup.

We took the what’s yours is mine option of four plates to share for $56.

I didn't get much of a look in with the 'Zany Zeus' grilled haloumi salad with chickpea sprouts, chorizo, torn pita bread and sumac labneh, but what I had was good.

The smoked fish and potato cakes, with hand crushed avocado and wasabi mayonnaise were more evenly shared and great combination of flavours.

The quinoa croquettes, had crunchy shells and came with hohepa garlic and herb quark, smoked tomato relish and broccoli sprouts.

The crispy calamari lived up to its name and came with a fragrant spice and chilli aioli.

The service was great and The Masonic is great spot to eat when in Napier.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Lone Star, Gisbourne

Shed One
60 The Esplanade
Inner Harbour
06 868 3257

The Lone Star restaurant in Gisborne has a fantastic location, in the semi gentrified port area, which tempted to try this branch of the chain.

The restaurant was fairly busy on a weekday evening but we got a table by the window. The view from our table inside stretched over the yachts and fishing boats towards Young Nick's Head, the first land sighted by the crew of James Cook's ship, Endeavour on October 7, 1769, in Maori the promontory is named Te Kuri o Paoa.

We both had the chowder as an entrée, it was more creamy than others we've had, but still contained some of the usual fish, mussels, squid, prawns and vegetables.

The fresh green-lipped mussels from the coastal waters of New Zealand were large. They were steamed in fresh herbs and a lemon, white wine and garlic cream sauce which was probably a bit creamier than I'd prefer.

The tiger prawn cutlets sautéed in fresh garlic, chilli and coriander butter were served with basmati rice and a garden fresh green salad. They were well cooked and a decent size.

The service was friendly if a little haphazard and the location alone makes the Lone Star worth a visit.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pig and Whistle, Rotorua

1182 Tutanekai Street

The "Pig and Whistle Historic Pub" is cheekily named after it's former role as a Police Station. The building is striking although the trees around it soften its impact compared to some of the earlier photo's of it on display inside.

We went through to an outdoor covered area towards the back and got a seat and the area soon got fairly busy.

The seafood chowder went down well and came with a giant baguette.

I has the smoked hoki and steamed salmon fish cakes which were well flavoured with capers, spring onions, chives and cheese. The crispy cakes were served on an unusual combination of ratatouille topped with leaves. I had the rest of the baguette that came with the chowder with this dish...

The harissa spiced chicken came on a salad of leaves, asian 'slaw, avocado and cashews, topped with Crispy Noodles.

Overall the food was fine without blowing us away, the service was good, and I wouldn't object to going back.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cafe Ephesus, Rotorua

1107 Tutanekai Street
New Zealand

We stumbled upon Cafe Ephesus in a pedestrianised part of Tutanekai Street in Rotorua and were tempted by the Mediterranean style menu so grabbed a seat outside. It was one of the busier lunch spots on a quiet autumn Monday. We both made selections from the lunch specials on offer for under $15.

The falafel with salad and humous on pita was a large serve and not to picked up and eaten!

I had the mezze plate was laden with a falafel, a stuffed vine leaf, Turkish bread, humous, tzatziki, avacado and pumpkin dips as well as salad. Every component was well prepared and of good quality, quite a job given the variety on offer.

The short black black came in a Turkish style cup.

The service was just a little on the slow side, but we weren't in a rush. I'd happily go back for lunch if I'm ever in the area again.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

The Riverhead

68 Queen Street
New Zealand

The Riverhead has been a "house of refreshment and conviviality" for around 150 years.We visited on a sunny Sunday afternoon when a band was playing in the garden and the various other areas were fairly busy.

We walked through the well decorated "The Landing" section out on to the deck area.

Out table had a great view over looking the (tidal) river.

The Squid had been marinated in garlic, lemon and herbs, then flame grilled which had imparted a strong flavour, perhaps a bit too full on. It was served with saffron orzo pasta salad and a garlic, cucumber and mint, yoghurt.

I had the beer battered fish and chips with garden salad and home made tartar sauce. The batter was crispy and the fish fresh and pretty firm.

The steak with broccoli and baked potato with sour cream and lived up to expectations.

We don't often eat dessert but shared some on this occaision. The 'decadent' dark chocolate tart, was rich without being over the top and the raspberry compote won me over.

The caramelised apple beignets, or mini doughnuts as they were accurately described to us were served with a great cinnamon yoghurt and a light pear cider syrup.

The long black was great and I like the New Zealand custom of providing hot water to let you mix the coffee to your own taste.

The service was friendly and was paced well for a relaxed weekend meal. The Riverhead makes great use of a fantastic location and is worth a visit.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oh Calcutta

151 Parnell Road
Parnell 1052,
New Zealand
(09) 377 9090

The next few posts will be from a recent trip to the North Island of New Zealand.

Our first meal was at Oh Calcutta in Parnell just east of the centre of Auckland, which has apparently won awards as one of the best Indian restaurants in the city. There were a few tables outside, we were in booth inside, with a view through to the kitchen.

The four of us shared the Chilli Prawns for entrée, they'd been flamed in a wok with chilli, lime and roasted cumin. The heat and flavours worked well.

The beef vindaloo was spicy bi not overpowering.

The dhal makhani was rich and flavoursome.

I hadn't had a chicken tikka masala for a while, and this was a reminder of what I'd been missing.

The naan was light and roti went down well.

The tandoori whole snapper had been marinated in a green masala, smoked over the tandoor oven. It was spectacular and fantastic to eat, once it had prized of the bones!

The service was good and fairly swift, and it would rate as the best Indian meal we've had in Auckland!

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