We received a very friendly greeting and seated beside the glorious rainforest back-drop. Décor is centered on that earthy theme – continued in the eclectic collection of pottery plates and bowls, bathroom basins on schist stone and wicker-look green tiles, wood-grained tables and chairs, all contrasted with modern concrete & steel.
The staff uniform was surprisingly casual, but the service was entirely professional and friendly. Our waitress knew the menu well, which helped in choosing our meal. Water and wine was kept topped up all night and all worked as a team.
The full wine list prices ranged from $40 – $500, including some local wines, NZ, Australian and European. The Menu was printed with the date on it – adjusted according to seasonal availabilities. A great way for chefs to keep creative energies flowing according to whatever is available. They do keep some favourites, so if just truly enjoyed a dish, it is still quite likely to be there upon return.
The Menu tells you main ingredients, not the method. For example: “Kingfish Tartare / persimmon / avocado / wasabi” …this was delicious with diced Kingfish marinating in delectable salty soy, sour lime juice and sprinkled with crunchy pistachio.
Rose Veal / tongue / pickled pink onions / sprouts / smoked oyster cream. If this is on the menu when you visit, I recommend you order it. It looks so pretty on the black plate with rare veal carpaccio, tiny fried tongue pieces for crunch and change of texture, pink pickled onion rings and sprouts for colour. Perfectly blended dish!
Rare Cervena venison for mains with braised cheeks, roasted parsnip, fried purple baby potato and “coffee and smoke” jus on the side. Yum! Cooked to perfection and looking great.
Northland Kingfish / Mussels / Kumara / Apple / Vadouvan spice. Curry is not my preferred accompaniment to fish, but Vadouvan is under-stated and smokey and offset by crisp green apple julienne. The mussels looked over-cooked, but no, quickly pan-fried in the spice and barely cooked in the middle – just right – and so was the generous serving of Kingfish.
Dessert menu also was original. Only because the waitress recommended it, we ordered Goats Milk Cheescake. Not a pretty dessert, but enjoyed the originality and detail. Tiny diced burnt honey jelly and you could taste honey, smoke and lemon. The goats milk taste hit briefly in the back of the throat. Once again, perfectly balanced.
We used to cook for a living. Rata made us want to return to cooking… an impressive feat. Highly recommend this restaurant!