Flex­i­ble, friendly, fun evening out

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

Vknow is a Fern­hill in­sti­tu­tion. Danny Car­son runs the front of house and es­pouses in­for­ma­tion on all things wine-re­lated while wife Lizzie is tucked away in the kitchen churn­ing out fab­u­lous dishes. The cou­ple has been look­ing af­ter lo­cals and those in the know for al­most ten years. It has a well earned ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion and I had a han­ker­ing to re­turn af­ter many years ab­sence but with a new chal­lenge. Kids.

Food:

I was con­scious that there was no chil­dren’s menu and the di­vine sound­ing piz­zas were a bit too so­phis­ti­cated for the pip squeaks’ palates. How­ever, Danny pre­empted my con­cerns (read my mind?) by al­most im­me­di­ately of­fer­ing a ham and pineap­ple or Margherita pizza. The kids happy, we or­dered gar­lic pizza bread ($7) and a pizza bread with caramelised onions and blue cheese ($12) to get us started along with a round of drinks. The boys pe­rused the bou­tique beers but were pleased to be able to stick with their Speights while my re­quest for a Chardon­nay saw Danny ask me what kind I liked. I opted for some­thing full of flavour and he de­liv­ered a fruity For­rest Es­tate ($10) and I later tried the other of­fer­ing – a Sleep­ing Dogs ($10). At the other end of the ta­ble Glenda was en­joy­ing sam­pling the Pinot Noirs. All of our mains in­volved the blue cod: seafood bowl of mus­sels, king prawns and blue cod in a creamy chow­der sauce with Vknow toasted gar­lic bread ($36) – de­li­cious with a fresh broth made up of the groper heads and other fishy bits Danny had re­turned from a re­cent trip to Fiord­land with – the pan seared blue cod of the day ($35), which was served on a potato rosti with ames­culin salad and was the most vis­ually spec­tac­u­lar dish of the evening, the Ste­wart Is­land blue cod in a Thai green curry with broc­coli on bas­mati rice ($33) – an oldie but a goodie - and a large chilli prawn and blue cod with lemon pizza ($30). We loved our mains and were hav­ing such an en­joy­able time that we could not go past or­der­ing some desserts to share. Again, the help­ful staff looked af­ter the kids by putting a scoop of ice cream in a bowl with some top­ping (pink, in­stead of choco­late thanks). The adults shared de­li­cious three berry par­fait which was rem­i­nis­cent of the boy­sen­berry par­faits of my child­hood but with a bit more style ($12) and straw­berry and rasp­berry sor­bet with meringues ($10) – that was en­joyed by all.

Ser­vice:

Danny had al­ready ex­ceeded our ex­pec­ta­tions by of­fer­ing some thought out dishes for the kids, so when Lizzie popped her head through the servery to of­fer the kids some pizza dough to cre­ate their own dough crea­tures we knew we were in fam­ily-friendly heaven. The kids couldn’t have been hap­pier and were de­lighted to fin­ish the night with their ex­tremely ab­stract look­ing rab­bit cre­ations cooked and wrapped into a tin­foil hand bag to take home. Who needs colour­ing books and crayons? Danny en­joys dis­cussing the finer points of wine and hav­ing a yarn about what is hap­pen­ing in the neigh­bour­hood. He was re­laxed but at­ten­tive, friendly and help­ful.

At­mos­phere:

Vknow is a bit of an every­man’s place. Sit­ting un­re­mark­ably in a row of shops at sub­ur­ban Fern­hill, the in­side is a mix of rus­tic but tidy ta­bles and chairs along­side some more comfy so­fas and bar stools in the bar area. A quirky mix of pic­tures and paint­ings grace the walls and dim light­ing en­sures a cosy at­mos­phere. Ta­bles can be con­fig­ured to cater for any size group and the own­ers are cer­tainly adapt­able. The kitchen is al­most part of the ac­tion and it is small enough for the om­nipresent Danny to swoop be­tween bar and ta­bles, rarely miss­ing a beat.

Ver­dict:

Trav­el­ling from Frank­ton to Fern­hill for ameal out can feel a lit­tle like a trip to an­other city. Ac­tu­ally, it isn’t. Only an­other five min­utes past town Vknow is a wee gem away from the mad­ness of Queen­stown and well worth a visit. The menu hasn’t changed very much over the years but why would you change a win­ning for­mula? The Car­sons are slick op­er­a­tors who know their food and wine, and who ap­pear to en­joy a chin wag with the lo­cals grac­ing the bar as well as look­ing af­ter ev­ery­one through the door. We were as im­pressed with their flex­i­bil­ity as their blue cod. We en­joyed a mem­o­rable fam­ily meal and will en­sure it is not so long un­til we re­turn next time.

Photo: DEB­BIE JAMIESON 628024220

HOURS: From 4pm, seven days a week.

RAT­ING: SER­VICE: 4/4, Food: 4/4

AT­MOS­PHERE: 2/2

RE­VIEWED BY: Deb­bie Jamieson

So­cial:

The bar at Vknow is a pop­u­lar hangout for the lo­cals.

628020442

Del­ish: Three berry par­fait from Vknow.

Photo: DEB­BIE JAMIESON 628024210

Vino within: Vknow, at Fern­hill, ap­pears un­re­mark­able out­side.

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