Sunday, April 24, 2011

Riverstone Kitchen

Four weekends ago, S, P and I spent a gorgeous, relaxing afternoon at Riverstone Kitchen in Oamaru, as an early birthday celebration for S. This place is something special - they have quirky, quaint gift shops, an aviary, an awesome fort and playground, a nice big vegetable garden, a large chicken and poultry coop, and some random goats just hanging out. And I haven't even mentioned the casual-chic, sleek, comfortable, well designed restaurant. Clearly, a lot of thought, creativity and effort has been poured into every last detail and now it is one of my favourite spaces in NZ (and I am sure I am not the only one who thinks so).

It turned out to be just one of those days that I will always remember with fondness - simple, good, homegrown food, the beautiful, blue NZ sky, lush green grounds, with lots of entertaining features, and great company. I can't speak for the others, but the afternoon there left me feeling quite content and with a happy memory to keep.

I apologise for the brevity, but this is the simplest way to convey my/our thoughts about each dish:

Potato gnocchi, with roast pumpkin, burnt butter, sage and pinenuts: S's main. She loved the gnocchi, the roast pumpkin and the crispness of the sage. 

Riverstone fish and chips with fresh herbs, lemon and tartare sauce: P's main. All I got out of him was "really good". I like the look of the rustic, hearty chips but I didn't get to taste any. Luckily, C, my co-worker, recently visited Riverstone Kitchen and ordered this very dish and has proclaimed it 'fantastic!'.

Organic chicken pie with mash and onion gravy: My main. I loved the mash and the onion gravy. The filling of the pie was a little unexpected because it was sweetish rather than savoury, but it was still good. The chicken pieces were a little lean and therefore fibrous, but I suppose that comes with cooking with a conscience and using organic or free range chicken and leaner cuts. The pastry was perfect - just the right flavour, thickness and flakiness.

Sautéed brussel sprouts with roast almonds: We all loved this side dish. Perfectly executed. I loved the slight bitterness of the brussel sprouts and was pleasantly surprised by how well the roast almonds complemented the vegetables and lent that bit of sophistication to the dish.

Steamed Riverstone greens with black olive tapenade: Quite interesting. I've never had vegetables served topped with olive tapenade before but it worked well. I am not a fan of olives, generally, so S may have enjoyed this a bit more.

Caramel and macadamia tart: S's dessert. I think she liked it but after a while found it a bit too sweet.

Chocolate sour cream cake: My dessert. This was every bit as amazing as it looks. Beautifully moist, soft and chocolatey with a deliciously thick layer of incredibly decadent, gooey icing. I am not a fan of berry coulis so I just had the cake by itself. It didn't even need the ice cream or cream on the side.

Feijoa open tart: P's dessert. Again, all I got was 'good' and some nodding. 

the chicken coop

the quaint gift shop

the vegetable garden

the awesome fort!

If you need any more convincing, you should also know that Riverstone Kitchen was awarded Cuisine Magazine's Restaurant of the Year for 2010.

Riverstone Kitchen 
1431 State Highway 1 

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