Whilst there is plenty of action in and around the Bay of Islands, this envelope-pushing establishment continues to play by its own rules setting the bar high for many of its poor performing neighbours.
Having reviewed many of the eateries in the far north it came as no surprise why this hidden gem is constantly regarded as one of the region’s best. Set amongst the vines, the synergy between the winery and their bistro-style restaurant is so engaging and adventurous you can feel the energy.
Icons take time to evolve but the portents are exceedingly good for this establishment where a well drilled kitchen continues to treat food with the utmost respect. Unashamedly pitched to the discerning foodie, their aim is to provide diners with an experience that lingers long after the credit card statement has faded.
The menu is everything you would expect bistro food to be and, while limited, there is sufficient sophistication and influence to please. From the description of the menu we got exactly what we expected. For entrees we chose the perfect winter dish, seafood chowder ($15) oozing with a medley of fresh seafood in a vegetable broth served with ciabatta. And there was generosity in flavours with our mains, eye fillet of angus beef ($36) served with hand cut chips cooked in duck fat, green peppercorn sauce and fresh seasonal vegetables hit the mark as did the much touted slow roasted lamb shank ($33) served with blackberries honey and crushed root vegetables.
And if you think you’re done when mains are cleared away its hard not to be swayed by desserts ($12.50) with classic delights of maple pecan tart, panna cotta, amoretti and plum trifle, affogato and a cheeseboard ($18).
Being a boutique winery, the wine list is limited to their own vintagesso and we opted for the ‘15 syrah ($25). Although distinctively young, the nose was layered with fruity aromas underpinned with silky tannins.
And the verdict? If you’re looking for a blueprint for the perfect neighbourhood restaurant then look no further. This is a place for those who want to engage with their food rather than merely just get fed.
Menu 8 | Cuisine 8.5 | Wine List 6.5 | Service 8 | Décor 7 | Value for Money 8.5
Words: Dennis and Rosamund Knill
Ake Ake Vineyard Restuarant 165 Waimate North Rd, Kerikeri 407 8230 | Lunch: 7 Days, Dinner: Mon – Sat www.akeakevineard.co.nz