We had lunch at The Grove, which was particularly memorable because it was our first ever meal in New Zealand. And it marked our introduction to New Zealand cuisine. People always ask me what New Zealand cuisine is, and I would say, it's similar to its Antipodean neighbour, where a light, easy touch is employed to seasonal, local produce. And The Grove made an exceptional case for New Zealand cuisine, highlighting the exceptional freshness of the produce.
Nestled in a nook off St Patrick's Square, The Grove is swanky and elegant, but service was intimate and warm, lending to an easy-going relaxed ambience.
There are 2 degustation menus, one a 5-courser, and the other, a gut-busting 9-courses. Our diet hadn't acclimatized to the time-difference (NZ is a good 5 hours ahead of SG) so we got the 5-Course Degustation (NZ$89) which counted as a considerably substantive breakfast, and possibly the heaviest breakfast we'd had in a long time.
We started off with a House-Cured Soft Bresaola which full-bodied heft was managed with the soft bite of wasabi sorbet, crunchy haricot vert, and grated montgomery cheddar.
The daily catch, a fatty oily Line Caught MonkFish, was contrasted with the heaty tang of pickled carrots and ginger, garlic and date.
The third course was a Grain-Fed Eye Fillet, sumptuous and perfectly pink, was set off against a white onion puree, grilled young leeks, globe artichoke, and local rocket. Of note was that beef tartare potato ringlet, which was bold and robust.
The dessert course, a Passionfruit Souffle, paired with a sorbet of cultured yoghurt whey, and roasted white chocolate ice, was pillowy light and boasted refreshingly sour tones.
To round off the excellent meal, was a Cheese Platter with (left to right) Mt Eliza Red Leicester from Katikati NZ, a Tete de Moine from Bern Switzerland, and a Cwmglyn from Eketahuna NZ, which were sided by local hams, raisins, honeycomb, black grapes, and lavosh. Absolutely scrumptious.
We were also served complimentary nut bread and house-churned butter, which helped line an empty stomach for a 2010 Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley (NZ$18.90).
The chic but still cosy dining hall.
The exterior of the restaurant.
Saint Patricks Square
Tel: +64 9368 4129
Open Thursdays & Fridays from 12noon to 2pm for lunch; 6pm to 9pm for dinner;
Mondays to Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 6pm to 9pm for dinner;
Closed on Sundays