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Featured Restaurant
posted April 15th 2007 features the Vine Dining series.

Mudbrick Vineyard Restaurant
Church Bay Road
Waiheke Island

Phone: 09 372 9050

KevinMorgan.jpgThe 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. MBscene.jpg (50664 bytes)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

MBtomatoterrine.jpg (25264 bytes)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.

MBporkcutlet.jpg (39783 bytes)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, "Don’t 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
April 2007

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