Thursday, January 17, 2008

restaurant at the end of the universe

We took the ‘expensive’ room with a view of the lake. The other, though I now think would have been a whole lot quieter, was like a walk in cupboard with a double bed crammed into it. Our one night away from the relatives would have a view and enough room to swing a cat. Anyway, I’m a sucker for blue over a drab olive green any day.

After sitting at a picnic table outside the bar downing Monteith’s finest ale my rumbling tummy set us in search of food. The pub was the only choice in the area, so thankfully there would be no issue about who’d drive home. The whiff of tired oil from the deep fryer meant fish and chips (the only choice available to me on the bar menu) were a choice to be avoided, so we relocated to another picnic table on the opposite side of the hotel’s main door to the pricier restaurants. My aunt who lived in the region had mentioned crayfish and whitebait so my expectations were high, despite the malodorous chips. The former was sadly off the menu but for NZ$21 an entrée of whitebait could be had in a traditional egg fritter. While there was more omelettes to fish, it was a nostalgic taste of home. Whitebait for the uninitiated are small wormlike critters, caught in a fine net flung across a river. Being from fresh water they have a very mild flavour. Don’t confuse them with the dirty variety, sourced from Thailand that can sometimes be had in Melbourne, or the small fish variety that Aussies give the same name to.

The SE had ‘Pacific marinated fish’. White fish, swimming in lashings of coconut milk with cucumber, coriander and a dash of lime. More a soup the way it was served but pleasant none the less.

In between we had a jug of Radler and watched the sun ebb closer to the Marlborough Sounds. We requested at least a half hour between courses when we ordered and the kitchen honoured it, almost down to the minute.

For mains, not deterred by the menu description of a ‘tropical salsa’, I went for the fish of the day (red cod) pan fried, on coconut rice and a mango concoction of top. Surprisingly edible. I was concentrating on woofing it down, so now I have no memory of what the SE ate, something involving salmon I think.

Dessert was port – a generous serve filling a champagne flute and the remaining half of the peanut slab in my bag from the day before.

oops half way through before the pic was taken

The sunset was the best I’d seen for sometime, the sun not disappearing over the Sounds til well after 9pm. Crazy 'Ary's sunset bar in Gili Air would be able to scrape a living if their crimson skies lasted as long. New Zealand may not be the tropics but their latitude affords long summer nights.

The Lake Ferry Hotel, felt like the restaurant at the end of the universe but the food was passable (not so the bar food friends have warned me) and the service friendly, albeit unpaid (the amusing local wife of the English chef) who said “I’m just helping my husband out, he’ll start hollering for plates if no one clears the tables”). The accommodation though left a bit to be desired, with every sheet of flooring and door hinge squeaking, as it’s temporary residents made their way to the communal bathroom during the nights. The walls were also so thin that the room reverberated with the snoring coming from the next room (and that is no exaggeration).

After very little sleep we made our way to breakfast before it ended at 10am. The large communal table was set the night before (very noisily next to our room), offering a free continental with the tariff of the room. All that was left was the crust and final slice of the wholemeal bread, a few containers of honey, half a jug of milk and some cereal. Instant coffee, no juice – we decided it was time to head back to civilisation for a long black with something eggy.

Verdict: Try the seafood but the sunset is the biggest winner.

Lake Ferry Hotel
South Wairarapa Coast
Telephone 06 307 7831
Website (with little useful info but pretty pictures)

Link: More absurdities from the Lake Ferry Hotel at other rants

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Blogger Desci said...

Those pictures are absolutely stunning!

7:05 pm  
Blogger GS said...

Thanks Desci :) We have about 100 of them, almost time-lapse like as we drunk and dined.

7:54 pm  

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