edited by Sue Courtney
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Wineoftheweek.com features the Vineyard Dining series in 2002.
Gibbs at Cairnbrae
Gibbs at Cairnbrae
The restaurant was one of two recommended to us by our homestay hosts. We'd been on the road all day and were in want of a quiet but wholesome dinner. Our first choice, the closer of the two restaurants, informed us they had a table, but they also had a group of 30 dining that evening. Well, that did definitely not suit my mood.
So we made headed to Gibbs, down the well-signed long driveway off Jacksons Road, adjacent to the Cairnbrae Cellar Door but run as a separate entity.
It was just going on dusk and the clad building looked inviting with its lights starting to glow across the lawn to the car park. Trees framed the building on either side. It looked like someone's house, rather than a restaurant, homely and inviting.
The dining room looked spacious inside, with white clothed tables set well apart from each other. We had 'laid back' chairs at our oblong table for two, quite relaxing between courses.
We perused the wine list and menu and my eyes just about popped out of my head in the surprise at seeing prices comparable to Auckland's top restaurants. However the wine list was comprehensive with some of the country's most expensive wines on offer together with Cairnbrae wines, the latter available by the glass in addition to a couple of others.
Complimentary breads arrived - a selection of baquette, pumpernickle and pumpkin served with butter and oil. Seconds were offered. A nice touch.
For starters I chose one of the day's specials, a Melon and Proscuitto Platter($12.50), four wedges of melon and 4 strips of finely sliced proscuitto. To accompany this I chose a glass of Cairnbrae 'Clansman' Chardonnay 2000 ($8) - a very delicious and well-matched wine to the food.
Neil chose the Bisque ($15.50), a seafood soup that was more seafood than soup, filled with mussel, oysters, prawns and bluenose. The broth itself was beautiful with just the slightest hint of coconut - quite delicious with a Lawsons Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2001 ($8.50). The pinot gris was also quite flavoursome with my dish, the rich texture of the wine enhancing the saltiness of the proscuitto.
We were off to a good start and staring to relax.
For mains I had ordered the Anatoki Salmon on Risotto (we eventually established that Anatoki was a river in Nelson) while Neil ordered the Poussin with many vegetables. To accompany this we each chose a glass of the Fromm La Strada Pinot Noir ($9.00), a delicious Marlborough pinot, well suited to the food.
My salmon was extremely disappointing - overcooked for a start and sitting on a risotto that was far too salty, a conclusion that was concurred upon by an acquaintance dining the same night with another group. In a discussion on our meals the following day we found we had ordered the same.
Neil's poussin was delicious, but failed to pass all our critical tests as, when he got to the bones, it was showing red on the joints, which we pointed out when our unfinished plates were taken away.
Our wait person, an attractive young 17-year old whose father was a winemaker, didn't know too much about wine but was 'going to learn'. She was new to the front of the house and her friendly disposition is a great asset to the restaurant.
Going to the loo is an interesting experience as you have to leave the restaurant and walk around to the side of the building. It was fairly well lit but would be a mission if it was a rainy night.
We didn't order dessert and decided to return to our homestay for coffee.
The total cost for the evening was $125.50.
The restaurant must be well regarded by the locals as two groups with well known winemakers were dining that night.
Gibbs at Cairnbrae, operated by Chris and Heidi Gibb, is also open for lunch for more casual dining fare.
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