Chance to in­dulge – and lov­ing it

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

At­mos­phere:

I have driven past Spear­grass Inn dozens of times, al­ways in­tend­ing to stop in but for one rea­son or an­other – usu­ally tired kids who have just fallen asleep as we head south – I have put it off. My mum and I just hap­pened to be driv­ing to In­ver­cargill – with­out kids in the back – so we de­cided to stop in and see what Spear­grass Inn had to of­fer for our rumbly tum­mies.

To my shock, from what looked like a quiet, quaint and dainty estab­lish­ment from the high­way, it was buzzing with cus­tomers around the back.

Cars were parked dis­creetly down the side of the build­ing, parked un­der the shade of large leafy trees. A ru­ral back­drop greets the cus­tomer as they step out of ve­hi­cles and through the thicket of trees and shrubs you get glimpses of old his­toric build­ings and ma­chin­ery dot­ted through the grounds.

You walk over a cob­bled path lead­ing into a shel­tered court­yard. Doors are open and invit­ing and as we walked in, mum gasped at the jars of freshly made jams sit­ting on a ta­ble. She started grab­bing at bot­tles of vinai­grette in­sist­ing she had to buy a bot­tle then and there. Let’s just sit down and eat first shall we, I sug­gested.

The in­side dining area was clean, bright and mod­ern with­out clash­ing with the his­toric in­tegrity of the build­ing. The walls are an ex­hi­bi­tion space for lo­cal artists.

In the court­yard, cus­tomers can take a wan­der into a nearby stone build­ing which has dis­plays of the build­ing’s his­tory and for­mer own­ers. Through the trees, set back from the dining area, is also ac­com­mo­da­tion for guests.

Ser­vice:

Ser­vice was quick, friendly, pa­tient and tol­er­ant of the ban­ter be­ing ex­changed be­tween mother and daugh­ter. The chef was also ac­com­mo­dat­ing as mum loved the chicken pate we had for a starter so much she asked if she could buy some. Not usu­ally for sale, he pot­tled some up for her and sold it for a very rea­son­able price.

Food

The food ex­ceeded all pos­si­ble ex­pec­ta­tions. We en­joyed a Chicken Liver Pate starter (made by the chef) which was served with red onion mar­malade, mus­tard rel­ish and grilled cia­batta bread ($18). Mum said it was the best pate she has ever had (and she has had a lot). We piled the toppings on and were left lick­ing our lips — the tastes were de­li­cious and serv­ings gen­er­ous.

For mains I had a blue cheese and mush­room tart, buried un­der a juli­enne ap­ple and wal­nut salad, with a pear and Ries­ling vinai­grette ($22). Mum had the lamb and orzo salad – seared marinated lamb with roasted cashews, orzo, mint and fresh greens ($25). For dessert I had the Meyer Lemon Meringue Par­fait - smashed meringues with lemon curd and Pure NZ vanilla ice­cream ($13) and mum had the ap­ple filo ($13) – cin­na­mon ap­ples baked in filo pas­try, caramel sauce and creme fraiche.

Our dishes had lovely bal­ances of flavour, tex­ture and cre­ative flair. We couldn’t fault the food.

It is fair to say when we went in with hun­gry tum­mies we were not plan­ning on eat­ing so much and hav­ing a full scale dining ex­pe­ri­ence. Who could re­sist that menu. We were more than happy to add an hour to our trip while we sat in tran­quil­ity, tast­ing some of the best food we have ever eaten. We were over-in­dulging our­selves, and we loved it.

Spear­grass Inn, Fruit­lands Roxburgh Rd, Alexan­dra.

Photo: JO McKEN­ZIE-McLEAN/FAIR­FAX

Meyer Lemon Meringue Par­fait.

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