Cosy nook delights
Return in mind to catch a screening
Nestled off State Highway 6 in a hideaway opposite the Highlands Motorsport Park is the quaint and quirky restaurant/ cafe A Drop of Red. I felt like I was entering a magical rabbit hole as I stepped across the narrow porch lined with rustic wooden furniture into a dark room illuminated softly by dozens of lamps hanging from the ceiling, standing on the floor or sitting on the wooden tables. A large fabric screen just inside the entrance blocks off the dining area. I found that slightly off-putting but once we went into the dining area I realised it was used as a backdrop for the projector screen when the place holds movie screenings (brilliant idea). We sat at a table, but the numerous fat lounge chairs and couches looked inviting with cushions and throws. There are a lot of different styles going on. I loved the hats on the wall, the lamp shades, the crockery our meals were served on and the kitsch salt and pepper shakers. The whole place had a very retro and rustic feel about it. The only thing I found slightly tacky was the line-up of plastic M& M figurines and Snoopy characters on a shelf above the window.
We were hungry so ordered a lot of food. I had the chicken and mushroom stew ($9.90). It was thick, creamy and full of homemade goodness. I felt it was slightly shy on the mushrooms – but I can never get enough mushrooms – and the small serving size was slightly disappointing. In about five mouthfuls it was gone. Luckily, we had also ordered a tapas board which included half a baguette, chutney, Saffron Farm olive oil, olives, crackers and cheese which Mum and I devoured and felt was well worth the ($10). Mum had the eggs benedict with salmon ($14.90) which she said was cooked to perfection, but also slightly on the small side. My children shared a ham, cheese and tomato melt ($10) which I thought was a bit expensive for what it was, and a bowl of chips ($4.50). To our delight, there was an amazing selection of Central Otago wines. As Mum and I ordered two glasses, the owner/ waitress opened a bottle of the Rabbit Ranch pinot gris for us ($9 a glass) which tasted so delicious we ordered another round. My son also received a little bonus – an extra marshmallow with his fluffy in thanks for the 60c tip he insisted on putting in the tip jar.
Whoever was working behind the bar – the owner or an employee – she was a machine. She was the only one working and was furiously getting food cooked as well as serving customers. We did not have to wait long for our meals, she remained attentive – asking us how our food was – as well as keeping us informed of what she was doing next. I am not sure how she would cope if it was fully booked, but she managed fine with us and several other small groups coming in.
A cosy, charming restaurant full of curiosities with homemade cooking wafting from the kitchen. I plan to go back for a drop of red during an evening movie screening.
Hidden hideaway: ADrop of Red. Homemade goodness: The chicken and mushroom stew.