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Herons Flight Vineyard Restaurant
49 Sharp Road
North of Auckland
Phone: 09 422 7915
When Herons Flight in Matakana opened their new restaurant and winemakers centre close to the road frontage of their property, the building immediately came into focus of the passer-by, unlike the former cafe which was well down the drive, nestled amongst the vines and out of sight of the road. The new venue has also at least quadrupled the capacity of their former café with the Matuku Moana room that can be opened up on busy days to double the indoor seating and of course there is courtyard too with a backdrop of vines, too.
Heron's Flight Vineyard Restaurant has become a popular spot on the Matakana wine trail, especially on a Saturday when hordes of Aucklanders descend on the region for the morning farmer's market and then disperse around the region to have a bite of lunch. Even more so on an Easter Saturday, when the weather is just gorgeous, like it was when we called in.
We drove into the car park a little after 2pm, expecting the lunch crowd to be thinning, but it looked absolutely chokka. When we spotted a recently vacated space in the car park, we breathed a sigh of relief.
The occupants of the recently vacated car must have also vacated the one empty table, which we were shown to. It was a table for four, but we sat beside each other so we could both look out the window at the view. This must have confused the staff, as it seemed to take an extraordinarily long time for someone to ask if we were ready to order and it was almost 15 minutes by the time we got a carafe of water, which arrived (after reprompting the waitress) just before our coffees. All this time we had watched three different wait staff attend to one table, including having orders taken, food served and wine poured.
I ordered a strawberry and blue cheese salad, which had me absolutely drooling when I had lunch here for lunch in December and saw it served at another table. But strawberries were in season then; they are not in March. So the strawberries had become pears, which had been sliced and marinated in red wine or Heron's Flight unique Sangiovese grape juice. The edible blue borage flowers made a pretty decoration. However pears are not as acid as strawberries and I thought it needed something extra to give the salad some verve, some crumbled bacon maybe, which Neil kindly obliged from off his plate.
He had ordered a twist on bacon and eggs, with soft-boiled eggs, plenty of streaky bacon, grilled tomatoes, slices of gouda and a pile of healthy salad.
We were warned, on ordering, that our meals could take some time, and it was suggested we may like to order some a selection of breads with preserves, or estate grown olives with camembert and toast, to tide us over. I had these last time, and very tasty they were too, but having already been tempted by the dessert menu, we decided to continue waiting while watching the people and the view.
The desserts we chose were a chocolate and ricotta cheesecake with hazelnut ice cream, and a lime tart, which came with copious amounts of soft whipped cream. A knife quickly severed each portion in two and we shared. The chocolate was rich and the lime, which we both preferred, was bright and fresh. I finished the meal with the lime slice garnish.
The wine list at Heron's Flight is small. With Heron's Flight Dolcetto 2005 sold out and the 2006 vintage just bottled the Thursday before, there was only one Heron's Flight wine on the menu, which was Herons Flight Sangiovese 2005. This rich, full-bodied Tuscan-styled red is appropriately served in a magnificent big glass.
There is a select offering of white and reds from around New Zealand, to reflect the country's diversity of styles, including the iconic Kumeu River Chardonnay.
Our meals, without wine, came to $68.50. Even with the wait for our orders to be taken, it was relaxing and pleasurable and we'll no doubt be back there again some time.
Heron's Flight Vineyard Restaurant is open daily from 8.30am. Pop in for breakfast or join the Long Italian Table on Thursday evenings.
Copyright © Sue Courtney