Tag Archives: New Zealand

Plume restaurant, Matakana, NZ by Joan Edwards

We were in possession of ‘Grabone’ vouchers: Deluxe lunch or dinner with a glass of wine for two for $85 at Plume – one of the winery restaurants in Matakana, a 60 min drive north of Auckland. Along with Waiheke and Kumeu, Matakana is one of the boutique wine-producing areas around Auckland abundant with excellent winery restaurants. A glorious sunny Saturday in Auckland seemed to be the ideal time to take a drive up North and have lunch and we had arranged to go with our friends and their adorable 3-month old baby girl. Embarrassingly, the parents managed to arrive well ahead of schedule while we were running a few minutes late having had nothing to get ready apart from ourselves that morning. I had mistimed the amount of time it takes to drive to Matakana (for future reference: 1hr 5 mins door to door – after speeding over the SH1 toll road).

I had booked the table the day before, initially asking for the 12:30 time slot. However, I had been told that the 12:30 time slot was unavailable but they were able to confirm for 12:45. This 15 min time difference seemed a little petty especially since the well-organised new parents told us they had actually arrived at 12:30 and were greeted (‘Nice to see you again…’ it wasn’t the first time they had taken advantage of the regular Grabone offers) and promptly shown to a table.

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The table was outside on Plume’s patio – overlooking the Runner Duck Estate vineyard: perfect on this sunny October day. We were efficiently informed of the vouchers conditions – any main and a dessert from the menu with a choice of the Runner Duck red (a Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend) or white (Pinot Gris) wine. We ordered two of each type of wine between the four of us, along with our choice of main and dessert (a condition of the voucher was this had to be chosen at the same time).

Plume describes its restaurant as ‘fusing the flavours of global kitchens with New Zealand’s own traditional heritage’. I’m not quite sure what this means, but the menu has some tendency towards Asian-style dishes.

We then sat back and enjoyed the company, the wine, the vineyard views and the sunny weather while waiting for our choices to be prepared. The pinot gris was good: light and crisp with delicate fruit flavours, while my husband, not being a big fan of Cabernet Merlot blends finished his glass and ordered the Runner Duck ‘Passion’, a full-bodied Syrah for his next glass.

The mains arrived about an hour later and we were all getting pretty hungry by this point. The new dad had ordered the pork belly – his regular order at Plume and he is a big fan. Not surprising as it looked fantastic – served with rice and wok-tossed vegetables on a banana leaf. He described it simply as ‘stunning’. The new mum had ordered chicken breast – advertised to come with Brussel sprouts but as they were currently out of season, they had been replaced with green beans, and served with mushroom and porcini cream sauce and truffle mash. After dealing with her disappointment at being told there would be no Brussel sprouts when ordering, everything else was good although she thought the truffle element to the mash was not very apparent.

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Char sui pork belly with rice and tossed vegetables
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Free range chicken with mushroom and porcini cream sauce, truffle mash, green beans and bacon crumbs

The tempura was nicely presented in a Chinese style takeaway box with a pipette of soy sauce and a bamboo steamer containing noodles. It also came with a single Atlantic grilled scallop and wasabi mayonnaise. The tempura consisted of sweet potato and spiced salt tiger prawns. The saltiness was definitely apparent in the tiger prawns, so much so, that I wasn’t sure there was any spice. The wasabi mayonnaise could have also done with more wasabi. The single scallop was grilled to perfection and delicious.

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Tempura – sweet potato, spiced salt tiger prawns, Atlantic grilled scallop and wasabi mayonnaise

The husband’s pork belly food envy wasn’t satisfied by the arrival of his roasted briouat of duck breast served with cannellini beans cassoulet, potato gratin and orange sweet and sour sauce. The duck, although tasty enough, didn’t have crispy enough skin for his tastes. However, it was saved by the excellent sweet and sour sauce and the tasty bean cassoulet.

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Roasted briouat of duck leg confit, cannellini beans cassoulet, potato gratin, orange sweet and sour sauce

The deserts were churros for the girls – always decadently delicious and served with rich Mexican chocolate sauce. The boys had chocolate fondant (served with an excellent blood orange sorbet and pieces of praline) and a sticky date pudding served with butterscotch sauce (containing unadvertised pecans, unfortunately for the recipient with a mild nut allergy).

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Sticky date pudding, butterscotch sauce and poached tamarillos
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Chocolate fondant, blood orange sorbet and praline
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Churros coated in Barbados and cinnamon sugar, Mexican hot chocolate sauce

Service: Friendly and knowledgeable. Water glasses were kept constantly topped up and orders taken efficiently. Food service was a little slow but not really a complaint since we were able to spend 2.5 glorious hours enjoying the sunshine and vineyard views, and at no point were we made to feel rushed. However, this made the request to delay my booking by 15mins seem a little unnecessary.

Food: Good choice of mains – all well presented. Some of the advertised flavours (other than the salt) could have been a bit more pronounced. No complaints with the pork belly! Plume also serve a selection of small bites and a vineyard platter for sharing.

Prices: We were on a special voucher deal which is good value but, ordinarily, mains are in the $29-$40 range (the pork belly being the cheapest and the duck breast the most expensive) and deserts all at $16.

Wine: Didn’t disappoint, but wine always tastes good in the sunshine at the winery.

http://www.plumerestaurant.co.nz

Plume, the vineyard restaurant
49a Sharp Road
Matakana
New Zealand
Phone 09 422 7915

 

Saturday Brunch, Auckland NZ, guest post by Joan Edwards

My husband and I were meeting a friend and her 4-year old son for a spot of brunch on Saturday morning and had arranged to go to The Tannery. The Tannery is a new collaboration between the ice-cream makers Kohu Road and the Coffee Roasters, Mt Atkinson.

The Tannery
The Tannery

We used to frequent the café at the Kohu Road creamery often and enjoyed their home-made pies, their Portuguese custard tarts and of course their ice-cream, so were disappointed when it closed down. But, fear not, It turned out that the space had been bought by the Mt Atkinson coffee owner who had a vision to create a space where you could watch the coffee being roasted and the ice-cream being made all on the same premises. The space has been renovated but continues to keep an airy warehouse feel with windows to both the creamery and the coffee roastery (roastery still under construction at time of visit). The café has always been popular with families and they will be pleased that The Tannery has kept the Kohu Road caravan which keeps the little ones amused while you eat.

Kohu Road Caravan
Kohu Road Caravan

The food offerings are simple – being limited to bagels and a small selection of baked sweet goods. However, on my first visit a few weeks ago, I was pleased to discover that they stock Best Ugly Bagels. Best Ugly Bagels are a relatively new venture from Al Brown (a NZ celebrity chef and restauranteur). They are a Montreal-style bagel as opposed to the more commonly available New York style and in my opinion, much tastier! They are hand-rolled, boiled and wood-fired in Auckland daily – and are much lighter and chewier than your standard bagel.

The Tannery offers five varieties of filled bagels, including a monthly special but they also allow you to build your own bagel with a number of fillings such as nutella, hummus, and peanut butter available. There are also 3 varieties of Best Ugly Bagel: sesame, poppy seed and cinnamon & raisin.

Food is ordered at the counter and delivered to your table. Sometimes the queue can be frustratingly long but this morning, although busy, our order of drinks and bagels was taken quickly. My husband also ordered himself a ‘cronut’ – a cross between a croissant and a custard doughnut as an entrée to go with his coffee. Delicious – but probably not too healthy!

We hadn’t been there long when we were treated to a flash-mob style percussion performance from people scattered throughout the café – there was a guy sat near me with a teaspoon and bottle, another behind me banging a plastic bin on the concrete floor, a girl at the other end of the café rhythmically tapping the sugar pot against the table and a couple of guys with broomsticks by the entrance. It sounds bizarre but it all came together to make a good noise. As we found out later, it was being filmed for TV3 and we were asked to sign waiver forms to give our permission for our images to be broadcast on NZ TV and apparently throughout the universe!

Our bagels arrived in good time: a New York (Gruyère, pastrami, hot mustard and cornichons) for my husband, King (Smoked salmon, capers, dills, red onion a cream cheese) for my friend and the monthly special (Blue cheese, pear, walnut and rocket) for me – all on poppy seed bagels.

King Bagel
King Bagel
New Yorks bagel
New York bagel
Blue cheese, pear, walnut and rocket bagel
Blue cheese, pear, walnut and rocket bagel

When they arrived, my husband asked if he could have some pepper. This seemed to confuse the waitress who claimed they did not have any! I am sure they must have some on the premises and it would be useful to have salt and pepper on the table. We let it go however, and enjoyed the bagels. They’re not as straight-from-the-oven type fresh as they are in the Best Ugly Bagel outlet in the city – but pretty good nonetheless.

In addition to the bagels, my friend’s son was treated to a cone with scoops of banana and raspberry ice-cream. Both me and my friend tried some of the banana icecream and agreed although it wouldn’t have been our choice of flavour – it was very good and extremely banana-ry! Not surprising as I am big fan of the Kohu Road ice-cream and they are always made generously with the best ingredients. My favourite is the dark chocolate which is made with 72% French cocoa solids. We often keep a tub in the freezer at home and you only need a small amount for a special treat after dinner.

Kohu ROad Ice-cream
Kohu Road Ice-cream

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Of course, the other main event at The Tannery apart from the ice-cream is the coffee: I am not a coffee drinker, but my husband has turned into a bit of a coffee snob since moving to NZ. Kiwis take their coffee seriously and I’m told the Mt Atkinson coffee did not disappoint – a rich blend with a good kick. So good, that he ordered another cup!

All in all, although we miss the old Kohu Road café, The Tannery is a good substitute and its location (walking distance from home) along with the welcome addition of Best Ugly Bagels means that we will continue to frequent this café for coffee and brunch.

Service: Service was quick due to no queue when we arrived. Coffee and bagels arrived quickly, but my friend’s ginger tea and her son’s hot chocolate took a bit of time to be served. We had finished eating the bagels by the time they arrived and no explanation was offered.

Food: Limited offerings but Best Ugly Bagels are always welcome. Coffee and ice-cream of high quality.

Prices: Filled bagels are priced at $9.50. Take-away multipacks of 5 bagels also available for $14 – perfect for when you have friends around for brunch.

The Tannery
44B Portage Road
New Lynn
New Zealand
09 827 6608

http://mtatkinson.co.nz

http://www.kohuroad.co.nz

http://www.bestugly.co.nz