Greek oasis oozes charm
Unhurried, divine dining served with rustic flair
Being new to Wanaka I was eager to dine at local institution, the White House. Bruschetta ($10 each) was the only option on the entree menu which may sound a little dull but the toppings were sensational and generous. We shared the bruschetta with beef, roasted red peppers and olives, and another with beetroot, blue cheese and walnuts. The bruschetta itself was delicious – soft and moist – with amousse-like texture. For mains I ordered half an aubergine stuffed with roast lamb, pecorino (a hard Italian cheese), carrot, chickpea and feta salad. These were the only ingredients listed on the menu, but the dish also contained roasted red pepper, tomato, avocado, celery, spinach, nuts and herbs. The lamb was incredibly tender and the dish was a huge medley of delicious flavours and juices – spectacular ($40). My partner chose smoked mackerel, mussel, rocket and potato salad. The seafood was generous and juicy and also served with delicious olives, herbs, roasted red pepper, red cabbage, a salsa verde-style dressing and lemon segments ($35). We did not need it but, given how good the food had been so far, dessert was irresistible. My partner ordered the rhubarb fool with crumble, cream, jam and Greek yoghurt. It was served in a preserving jar but I thought it otherwise looked a bit plain. I was wrong. The combination was delicious ($15). I chose a cheese, a generous wedge of creamy blue, and married it with a chunky quince and nectarine chutney – a delicious combination with water crackers ($10). The wine list was extensive in terms of the number of options and its geographical spread. The knowledge of the wines was also good and, when choosing a slightly unusual chardonnay, I was advised to sample it first in case it was not what I was wanting. There was also a good range of quality beers, juices and soft drinks. The bottles of wine started at about $50, the glasses of wine we ordered were $13 each, and the boutique beers (500ml bottles) were $14.
The service was very good. We were not rushed at all and the knowledge of the dishes and the wines was excellent. I was impressed by the effort the staff went to to ensure the wine we chose was exactly what we felt like. The menu was on a blackboard on the wall and the wine list was on a blackboard which was brought to your table – difficult for my partner whose eyesight did not reach quite that far.
It was like being in someone’s home in Greece. You could sit at a table, at the bar, or on stools looking out a large, rounded window on to a slightly overgrown garden. There were books to browse, the serviettes came in recycled tins and a jar of various bone-handled and silver cutlery was served with every course. Sleek and modern, the White House was not, but that was its charm.
We both really enjoyed our evening and were surprised when we left by how long we had been there. It was relaxed and, while quite pricey, it was delicious and of a very high quality. I went back a couple of days later to buy a voucher for my sister and brother-in-law’s Christmas present. The last point: it was a little difficult having the menu on a blackboard on the wall and the bathrooms were slightly less than sparkling clean. I highly recommended the White House for a gastronomic treat.
Seconds please: The White House, in Wanaka.