Wineoftheweek.com features the Vine Dining series.
Mudbrick Vineyard Restaurant
Church Bay Road
Phone: 09 372 9050
The new chef at Mudbrick Vineyard Restaurant on Waiheke Island has
been doing wonderful things with the food. Kevin Morgan is his name and he's back in New
Zealand after a two year stint on super yacht Athena and before that in some of the UK's
top kitchens that of including science chef, Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck).
Morgan's busy revitalising the menu at Mudbrick and diners are already benefiting from
his exciting additions. I tried some of them at a five hour, 12-course (counting the
bread) degustation lunch last Friday. Kevin Morgan's food matched to Mudbrick winemaker
Martin Pickering's wines and the atmosphere of Nick and Robin Jones's Mudbrick Winery set
the scene for a very memorable meal.
I hadn't been to the Mudbrick Restaurant for soooo long, it's hard to remember when I
last ate there. On my last two visits to Mudbrick, I only went to the winery at Shepherds
Point (which we visited on route to the restaurant this time), one time because an
accountants conference was in session and the other time because there was a wedding.
There are lots of weddings at Mudbrick. The setting is so beautiful
with the potager gardens, the topiary, the lavender, the brickwork, the grapevines and of
course the stunning views to the north and west over the Hauraki Gulf sea with Auckland
City in the distance. But when groups take over, that means regular Joe Customer misses
out. So Mudbrick has remedied this by opening the Potager Garden Bistro at the
eastern end of the tasting room, which can be hired out for small groups, or used as a
restaurant when the main room has a group. It's also an intimate night time dinner venue
and opens from Thursday to Sunday during the summer.
On this visit our small group of eight dined in the main restaurant. It was a cold and
blustery day, so the multitudes of French doors and the overhead louvres were kept firmly
shut. But on a good day they open, taking the dining room outdoors.
Every course has something from the Mudbrick garden on the plate, whether it be a
simply a sprig of lavender for garnish or a rich, herb infused oil for food taste
enhancement as well as decoration.
Highlights of the meal included
Ox Heart Tomato Terrine with a
Chevre Mousse, matched to the dry, flinty Mudbrick Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
2006. Chevre and Sauvignon Blanc, Tomato and Sauvignon Blanc - it's a no-brainer
really and it worked deliciously well. Ox Heart Tomatoes are a type of tomato, I learnt,
after wondering where the ox heart was when the plate of food arrived. The green is a
basil oil garnish - which was yummo.
Hot and Sour Scampi Soup matched to Mudbrick Marlborough Riesling 2006,
although the 'hot and sour' broth was also delicious with the sauvignon blanc. The scampi
was melt in the mouth tender, like crayfish, only more expensive.
Confit of Salmon with Colcannon Potatoes and Brussel Bacon Salad matched to Mudbrick
Reserve Waiheke Chardonnay 2006. The Chardonnay really was the highlight here, a
gorgeous wine with ripe peach and tropical fruit, a honeyed, mealy yeast lees influence
and a long savoury, spicy oak finish. Perfectly, balanced, harmonious, creamy and long.
The salmon was cooked to perfection, melt in the mouth, the way I like it.
Boar Cutlet with Forest Mushroom and
Kikorangi Ravioli served with two of Mudbrick's gold medal winning Waiheke reds, the
Reserve Merlot Cabernets 2005 and the Shepherds Point More 2004. But I have to say I
enjoyed this dish more with the Mudbrick Marlborough Pinot Noir 2006, that had
been served earlier with a Sweet Pea and Porcini Cappuccino. A versatile Pinot Noir,
because it was delicious with the salmon too, and now the wild boar - and especially
seductive when combined with the thin slice of truffle that the topped the tower of food.
Three deserts followed, including a divine Poached Fig and Munster Cheese but at
the end it was all a bit of a rush when someone realised the time and we needed to leave
soon to get the 5.35pm ferry back to Auckland. Needless to say by the time I got home it
was after 7pm and dark. Fortunately I had texted my husband. The message said,
"Dont want dinner - make your own".
The degustation menu at Mudbrick is evolving, and will evolve with the seasons and the
availability of the best fresh food. It costs $95 per person, or with matching wines, just
$145. This seems like very good value to me. I highly recommend it.
Copyright © Sue Courtney