Summer is almost here; can you feel it? Well I can and to me that means it’s time to get out of the city and unwind, take some time to relax; eat, drink and be merry, if you will. One of my favourite spots to visit in summer is Blenheim. Not only is it beautiful, but it has some fantastic wines and if I’m not eating then I like to be drinking wine. I also like drinking wine whilst eating, I think you understand that I like wine.
On my last visit, I dined at Arbour. I hadn’t been before, but had heard great things and was looking forward to experiencing it for myself. Arbour is owned and operated by Liz Buttimore who runs the front of house and Bradley Hornby, the chef. They have oodles of awards and accolades and have a strong focus on local produce and wines.
When walking from the driveway to the restaurant, I took in my surroundings. The restaurant is out of the Blenheim town centre and has a beautiful courtyard that I could picture myself enjoying very often if I was a local, with well maintained grounds and established trees. The restaurant itself is open plan, spacious and has a very easy and relaxed vibe to it. We were warmly greeted by Liz at the front desk and seated at the perfect table, which to me is a table where I can see what’s going on around me.
We chose the tasting menu; ridiculously good value and of course, I was hungry. The wine list is magic, amazing options by the glass and the staff are well trained and made excellent recommendations. Ask to see the secret special list, it’s pretty darn special.
The sourdough with whipped black garlic butter arrived, now there’s bread, and then there’s bread, and this is BREAD. Crunchy, dense, tasty and damn, that butter is good – we were off to a brilliant start. I’m not going to go through every single dish as this is a review, not a novel, but let me share with you a few highlights of the meal.
I love octopus, but sometimes it can be rubbery and sometimes it can be mushy. The Confit Octopus with Chorizo, Mussels and Various Potato was perfectly cooked and with the heat of the chorizo and the varied textures of potato combined, it was mind blowing, not even exaggerating.
Ricotta Dumplings with Wild Onion, Spring Greens and Red Walnuts, this may be one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever laid eyes on; a masterpiece of plating and of flavour. Little balls of ricotta goodness with new season asparagus; fresh and lively flavours, an amazing dish.
I’m never sure about dishes with cutesy names, but Happy Duck + Things They Eat, was so good I can forgive it. Duck breast, again perfectly cooked, in a pool of delicious soup-like stock that I want to drink every day for the rest of my life. It was a pure delight.
The Local Strawberries with “Rice Pudding”, Lemon Gel and Crispy Bits was a beautiful dish, bursting with freshness. And that sorbet? Holy hell, it was good!
Now, I must mention that the service was spot on all night and having the chefs deliver some of the dishes is an excellent touch.
If for whatever reason you find yourself in Blenheim and you don’t go here, you will regret it.
5/5 Thumbs Up
Arbour 36 Godfrey Rd, Blenheim. arbour.co.nz
The only completely anonymous restaurant reviewer in New Zealand, the Hungry Mr. Wolf has been eating up a storm all over New Zealand, finding the best spots for you to dine. From the fanciest fine dining establishments, to the good old country pub, there’s nowhere he won’t go, but he will only tell you about the top spots! Hunting high and hunting low, our Mr. Wolf is always hungry for an epic dining experience.
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