edited by Sue Courtney
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Wineoftheweek.com features the Vineyard Dining series in 2002.
Pegasus Bay Winery Restaurant
Pegasus Bay Winery Restaurant
I've eaten at this restaurant several times and every time I've enjoyed it.
The first was in 1995. We'd heard about this 'new' winery in Waipara and called there for lunch. There was no indoor seating but the tables with their umbrellas in the expansive grounds looked appealing in the hot February sun. The menu was simple but substantial enough for outdoor dining. After our meal we wandered over to look at the natural amphitheatre where the summer opera was held. We tasted wines too, in a tiny tasting room that held about six people at a squeeze. I remember some impressionable whites but the reds were not to my palate.
The next time was in 2000 when the 'Gang of 8' were having a reunion. Six of us had flown down from Auckland for a long weekend and to meet up with the couple who had moved south to Christchurch. Pegasus Bay for lunch was a 'must visit' on the agenda - there was no dissent, for we were all fans of Pegasus Bay wines. In my opinion Pegasus Bay had now discovered the secret to great pinot noir and I had discovered their pinot was definitely to my taste.
How the facilities had changed in the past five years. The buildings had expanded outwards and upwards. The public area had a 'bar-like' wine-tasting facility at one end - a long curved bar made from recycled rimu where several people or small groups can stand around and be served. In the same room was the impressive restaurant spaciously adorned with recycled rimu tables and chairs. The panoramic view was over the now well established grounds and gardens where 'al fresco' dining was still a big part of the operation.
It was the middle of winter and we had a table booked indoors where there was a fire emanating heat from the corner of the room with some comfortable leather couches to relax upon in front of it. Hanging from the ceiling were two massive "chandeliers", made from empty wine bottles. Along the wall adjacent to the entrance were more empty bottles. The labels showed that some serious drinking had been done here over the years.
It was a fantastic lunch and a most memorable meal. We ate entree's 'to start' followed by the 'main event' and were even lured into 'last temptation' desserts. I was going to review the restaurant then but that chef left shortly soon after.
January 2002 saw us in the vicinity so Neil and I called into Pegasus Bay as we passed through Waipara. It was an impromptu wine tasting visit as we had already eaten elsewhere. We noticed how the buildings had expanded further, with a new barrel room nearing completion.
So when the Waipara Winegrowers invited me to visit Waipara in an official capacity for the Waipara Wine and Food Celebration, I was asked if there was anything I especially wanted to do. "I would love to have lunch at Pegasus Bay", I said. I was keen to try the creations of Leungo Lippe, the 'new chef' that I'd heard so much about and who had worked in New York, Washington and London for Marco Pierre White.
Winemaker Matthew Donaldson joined me for lunch, which was good - as otherwise I would have been eating alone.
Matthew took things in hand with the ordering. A 'Pegasus Platter for Two' was his choice. And what a good choice it was, for it was filled with a selection of delicacies from the menu.
There was "Gazpacho with garlic croutons" served in espresso cups. There was a tower of guacamole and an assortment of crisp breads to eat it with. There were two seafood morsels - a "Scallop Ceviche with a coconut and coriander emulsion" and a "Tiger Prawn Summer Roll" - spring rolls with vermicelli noodles, carrot and Cajun coated sliced prawn.. There was "Portabello Crostini" where the tasty mushroom had been marinated in ginger, balsamic and garlic. And finally two goat cheese creations, which were divine with the Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon 2001 - a "Crisp Goat Cheese purse" - the purse made from filo pastry and served with a tomato, basil and shallot salad; and a "Chevre Crostini" - where the cheese had been mixed with roasted garlic, salt and pepper, fresh herbs and some cream.
The freshness of the food was a key to its success.
Dining in a situation like this, with the winemaker, meant there were a selection of Pegasus Bay wines to try with the platter and along with the sauvignon semillon, the riesling and chardonnay also provided textural delights and a total wine and food experience.
The menu here is excellent and every dish has a recommended wine match or two. The price on the menu on offer at the time of my visit had prices ranging from $12 to $14 for the starters, and $22 to $24 for the main event. The Pegasus Bay Platter was $40 - and was definitely worth it, while a child's platter costs $12. Side orders of breads, salads and vegetables were also on offer. Dessert "temptations" cost $12 and $13 while a Kapiti cheese selection for two served with seasonal fruit chutneys cost $22.
There is a good range of coffee and teas and of course the outstanding Pegasus Bay wines.
I definitely recommend this restaurant. The menu changes seasonally and was due to change to the autumn menu the week after my visit.
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