Chance to indulge – and loving it
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 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.
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.