Long lunches are still to be enjoyed in this beautiful valley, but instead of sunshine, they will most likely be eaten in front of a roaring open fire, in a stylish warm interior with great ambience, some really tasty hot food off new autumn/winter menus warding off the frosty bite outside.
You can probably walk in anywhere mid-week, but it’s advisable to book if you’re planning a weekend lunch.
Pegasus Bay, awarded New Zealand’s best winery restaurant by Cuisine for the fifth consecutive year, loves the change of season, and Edward Donaldson, its marketing manager, says the food reflects the move, as much as possible gathered from their own garden.
Pegasus Bay’s “feasting
menu” for groups, is a popular choice when the temperatures drop.
“It’s a two or three course option, with four different entrees, three different mains, and four desserts and it is a great casual, interactive way of dining which people really enjoy.”
Shared dishes, like the Pegasus Platter for two, are always popular, but every dish on the menu is designed as both a meal for an individual, but also suitable for sharing.
Wine lovers will discover between five and 10 vintages of each variety on offer and also an older vintage and a current vintage available “by the glass.” Or you can select a half glass of each – for example a 2001 Riesling and a 2010 Riesling, which allows for some great discussion and comparisons. The Tasting Room and Cellar Door is open from 10am-5pm daily and the restaurant from 12-5pm every day.
At Waipara Hills Winery and Café there’s a mouth-watering Osso Buco – Waipara Hills-style using venison shanks – on the new winter menu, and a chicken stack with mushrooms, pesto and camembert to tempt, plus winter desserts like Sticky Date Pudding and Chocolate Tortes. Jenny Anderson, manager, says they’ve just
released the Equinox range, their Waipara Hills Premium range, just the thing to accompany a fabulous lunch in a splendidly grand setting. Waipara Hills is open seven days a week from 10am-5pm, and there’s a wonderful fireplace roaring out a welcome for guests as they arrive.
The stylish Black Estate, eighteen months old, has become “a really busy place” says marketing manager Penelope Naish. Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am5pm, they’ve moved to a more substantial menu, whenever possible using fresh ingredients – organic or spray free spray - harvested locally.
“We’ve got a simple short menu, with starters, entrées, mains and desserts, but we still have cheeseboards and charcuterie boards.
“We want people to come and have a really lovely winter meal and enjoy the beautiful view over the vineyard down the valley and across to the main divide beyond.”
There is always coffee and cake available, too if you’re pulling off the road to take a closer look at one of Waipara’s newer destinations. Luncheon guests can enjoy a complimentary wine tasting.
Waipara Springs welcomes the colder months, offering lunch by the fire and an earlier opening time, (10am-4pm) perfect for brunch – anyone for Eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce or French Toast.
Marketing Manager Dee Atkinson says other daily specials include Soup of the Day with Homemade Bread and Gourmet Pizza. Lighter meals include homemade Quiche with salad, and Chicken Terrine with chutney and crackers. Greek Chicken Souvlaki and a daily specials board provide more hearty fare.
“We have Devonshire tea for group bookings of 10 or more, available until 3.30pm on weekdays, and we will have theme nights, starting at $25 a person for two courses. Those coming up include Thai, Best of British, Asian Flavours and Indian.”