At­mos­phere:

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

Food:

The lat­est time I vis­ited Sur­real for a meal there was still a pool ta­ble up­stairs and the food was an Asian fu­sion. I was sur­prised to find things had changed.

The first dif­fer­ence I no­ticed was with the menu. Gone were the sa­tays and stir fries, re­placed with more tra­di­tional Euro­peanstyle menu choices – lots of them. The long list of starts and tapas were tempt­ing and in­cluded a bit of ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing pork slid­ers, chicken wings, cala­mari, prawn dumplings and grilled chorizo. Per­fect for a lin­ger­ing drink and meal with friends, but not for us this night. How­ever, we were all hun­gry and thought a gar­lic bread straight out of the oven ($12) might be a good way to start things. It ar­rived warm and springy, half white, half whole­meal with an ar­ray of top­pings in­clud­ing fam­ily favourites se­same and poppy seeds.

I was sur­prised to learn there was a chil­dren’s menu and, while it was brief in op­tions, it cov­ered all the bases. Our dar­lings picked the ham and cheese pasta ($8) and, pre­dictably, fish and chips ($9). The pasta was great and fill­ing to the point that the six-year-old with a very healthy ap­petite couldn’t fin­ish her serv­ing. The chip help­ing was sub­stan­tial, though the fish was, a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ingly, of the frozen Hoki va­ri­ety.

Karl’s fish on the other hand, the panfried blue cod served with chorizo sausage, gourmet pota­toes, red pep­per, Span­ish onion and baby spinach ($29) looked fab­u­lous. Not too heavy but a gen­er­ous­sized meal. I had ma­jor food envy. Karl wasn’t as en­thu­si­as­tic as I.

He felt there was too much chorizo and not enough fish, but over­all it was good flavours and cooked well.

Af­ter it be­came clear Karl was not go­ing to be moved from his fish or­der, I chose the braised pork belly served with ku­mara and co­rian­der mash and pork crack­ling ($27). It was as sim­ple as it sounds and sur­rounded by a rich, flavour­some gravy. The mash had a tang in com­plete con­trast to the pork and the mix of tex­tures with the meat, mash and ku­mara shav­ings on top gave the meal a nice bal­ance. I missed hav­ing some greens and while I could have or­dered a side of salad or lemon but­ter and al­mond greens, I would never have had enough room to fit any­thing else in.

We briefly con­sid­ered desserts for the chil­dren as choco­late and straw­berry ice cream sun­daes were only $4, but de­cided it was time to head home.

Ser­vice:

We were early in for the night so I sup­pose it was ex­cus­able that the wait­ress had to find the spe­cials be­fore she was able to fill us in on the de­tails.

We also had to ask for them. Ser­vice was other­wise smart and ev­ery­thing was pro­duced as re­quested. It was ap­pre­ci­ated that Madam-4’s re­quest for a new can­dle on the ta­ble af­ter ours burned out was met with good hu­mour.

Given the chil­dren’s menu, and we weren’t the only fam­ily din­ing at the time, I was a lit­tle sur­prised that there was no of­fer of chil­dren’s colour­ing-in or other ac­tiv­i­ties. Sur­real is a bar/restau­rant and eas­ily sits be­tween the two be­fore the witch­ing hour sets in.

We were there for an early tea, but a turntable set up in the cor­ner is a re­minder of the trans­for­ma­tion to the DJ dance party of the evenings.

There is a re­ally re­laxed vibe in the main bar and restau­rant down­stairs and we found great chill-out zones and friendly staff on the sec­ond floor (now a bar sans the pool ta­ble) and a fab­u­lous rooftop bar.

How­ever, on ar­rival we strug­gled to de­cide on a ta­ble as those near­est the warm fire­place were also af­fected by the wide open front doors on a frosty night.

Ex­treme heat was com­ing from one side while a po­lar blast rushed us from the front.

Ver­dict:

I would not have picked Sur­real as a suit­able fam­ily venue, but it worked well for us.

I was im­pressed by the menu and the food.

The mix of ex­treme tem­per­a­ture con­trols was not very com­fort­able, but the over­all at­mos­phere was very re­laxed.

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