For a luxurious experience without the need for a second mortgage, a long Sunday lunch at Wharekauhau is a feast for all the senses.
A three course lunch with glass of Te Kairanga sauvignon blanc (swapped for a delicious Te Kairanga 2005 off-dry Riesling after a to-die-for Lustaw Pedro Xenemez sweet sherry starter for her, and followed by an Awatere Pinot Noir well matched to the beef for him),
complimentary salmon amuse bouche, quality settings and service, in a private dining room overlooking Palliser Bay, was $105 each after the entertainment card discount (the starting point was $110 each before extra wines and discount).
The wines were all of excellent quality, with the Foleys (owners) having ownership in Te Kairanga and Vavasour, and those wines featuring prominently beside a nice range of other NZ and Californian wines. I see in the media recently the Foleys are looking to acquire a few more Marlborough vineyards to add to the stable.
The menu provided three choices for each course, focused on locally grown or caught, and seasonal – their own vegetables, beef and lamb; Palliser Bay octopus and snapper. The soup (butternut pumpkin, apple, parsnip with fresh horseradish) was crisp and refreshing, the lamb (roasted, with coffee, eggplant and jus) was tender, and the creme brûlée (vanilla with shortbread) rich and filling.
We also scored a complimentary cheese board by virtue of some mix-up in the kitchen. Again, very good quality and well presented (and no dinner required for us that night!).
We were invited to explore the lodge and surrounds (indoor covered pool with bathrooms of elegance, fully equipped gymnasium, all weather tennis court, groomed croquet and petanque lawn, shady and pleasant pathways) and did so between mains and dessert (good suggestion!).
The lodge has a number of upstairs rooms for games, reading, leisure and socialising, all with different moods and decor, so one could easily find a spot that resonated.
Oh, and year on year on year lamb and beef award winners. What more can one say?
Three hours of feeding the senses for a delicious birthday treat -simply divine.