Greek oa­sis oozes charm

Un­hur­ried, di­vine din­ing served with rus­tic flair

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Food:

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.

Ser­vice:

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.

At­mos­phere:

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.

Ver­dict:

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.

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