Last weekend, my family and I had lunch at the Villa Maria Estate’s Vineyard Cafe located just minutes away from the Auckland International Airport. The Estate occupies a large area which is one of the region’s many volcanic craters and the drive to the cellar door takes you past the Ihumatao Vineyard which is responsible for their Gewurztraminer. The cafe – which was highly recommended by my parents – serves a variety of seasonal dishes including platters, entrees, bistro-style dishes and desserts.
We started our meal with a winemakers platter that includes an assortment of cold cut meats, cheese, antipasto, salad and bread. It was fantastic, apart from the blue cheese which was left untouched. The garlic relish was delicious when accompanied with the meats and crostini and the pickled artichoke was appetizing. It’s a shame we did not exchanged the blue cheese for another block of cheddar which we devoured within minutes.
The mains arrived quickly and they were all of a decent portion. The eye fillet served with creamed potatoes and broad bean was superb. The beef was flavoursome and succulent, despite being slightly overcooked for my sister’s liking. The pork belly was disappointing as the meat was slightly dry and the skin was neither crispy or chewable. However, the pumpkin puree was nice and the side serving of jelly was a nice touch. The caesar salad was well-dressed, the egg was perfectly poached and most importantly, there was a decent serving of Parmesan cheese. The highlight of the meal would have to be the fish of the day. The seared snapper was moist and tender and it was served with butter potatoes and broccolini.
Some of us still had room for dessert so we ordered the raspberry ripple cheesecake and the Kohu Road ice cream and sorbet served in a brandy snap basket. I was too full to try any, so i can not comment on the taste. I do however, adore the simple but pretty plating!
The Vineyard Cafe is open seven days and closes at 6pm on a weekday and 4pm on a weekend. They recommend booking in advance and this is a good idea as the area lack other good restaurants/cafes. The price for the food at Vineyard Cafe is relatively high considering it’s lunch and is approximately $18 for an entree and $30 for a main. However, the scenery and atmosphere make this cafe a great place to dine during special occasions. Oh, and don’t forget to participate in the winery tour that departs daily from the cellar door at 11am and 3pm which costs $5 per person.
Date: Saturday 25th February, 2012 | Location: 118 Montgomerie Road, Mangere | Food: Bistro/Cafe