We don’t eat out much when I’m in New Zealand. Apart from anything else, there’s nowhere of my er … taste to go, and as Wendy rightly says, her food and cooking is better than most (all?) the local restos. So … after a hard day’s work it’s easier to stay home.
But the other evening … well, it was Wendy’s birthday, and one of my last nights in NZ, and Yoshie had earned a night off the dishes, so we thought: Let’s kill it. Somewhere? Where?
We’ve tried most local places over the years and really wouldn’t repeat many. Well, we settled on the friend-recommended, prize-winning (?) Nor’wester Café in Amberley. Amberley, for God’s sake.
It’s a pleasant place, on the main road. Pleasant staff. And we were early, so not crowded or noisy.
Things didn’t start well. The drinks the girls ordered were ‘off’. If your wine list isn’t available: don’t offer it. Height of amateurism. I was ready to walk. But where to? In Amberley?
I started with seafood ravioli. Yes, ravioli! There were three, instead of the pretentious one offered by posh places, topped by two really delicious prawns and sprinkled with a truly tasty sauce. I would have liked one more yummy prawn, more filling in the ravioli ... and I’d have it as a main course any day.
But my main course kept the standard up. Rare (advertisedly) venison with blue cheese, red onion, spinach, kumara … it sounded too good to be true! But it was true. The venison looked fabulous, tasted great, and if sliced a bit thinner (thus tenderer for us with false teeth) would have been a triumph. I devoured the accompaniments greedily … except the kumara, which goes soggy in an instant and would have been better pureed … it was very nice.
But, all in all, it was a splendid supper ($200 for three), and if they get their winelist under control … I’ll even go back. With friends!