Vidal Estate Winery Restaurant, Hastings

You’ve probably worked out by now that we do enjoy food and drink. We tend to stay away from “posher” places since they often try to get to poncy with food. In the words of Micky Flanagan “it’s just a bit of dinner”.

That’s not to say that we don’t appreciate a high quality establishment, just that we don’t frequent them too often. You can be faced with a tiny plate of food which has been exquisitely presented but with lots of weird flavours going on. And someone wants to charge you silly money for it. Faced with a choice of that or just a simple bacon sandwich, I know which one I would choose! I’m all about content, not presentation, although I know why people think it’s important.

This brings us to Vidal Estate Winery Restaurant in Hastings. We were staying just down the road at the Hastings Top 10 holiday park. We wanted to treat ourselves to a “posher” meal out to celebrate our big holiday, and this was our nearest restaurant. How convenient that it was attached to a winery.

We booked a table earlier on in the day and then strolled over in the evening for dinner. We were met by another lovely ex pat who was in charge of the restaurant, and we had plenty of conversations over the course of the night about life in England and New Zealand.

Let’s start with a drink. I know that we are in a winery, but this one happens to serve beers from a local brewery, so I’m obviously going to choose one of those because that’s my thing. I had some Hawkes Bay Reserve Summer Ale, which was light and hoppy and a perfect start.

Mrs MOFAD had some wine, a Vidal estate 2015 Sauvignon Blanc – fruity, floral and great with spiced fish (more on that in a moment).

On to the starter. I chose salt and chilli squid with Asian greens. This was absolutely lovely, perfectly cooked squid with a crunchy little salad and a simple dressing. I’m a recent convert to squid. It’s one of those things that if it’s done badly can put you off for a long time, and I suspect that’s what happened to me at some point.

Another drink before the main course arrives. As there were more beers to try, it would have been rude not to. So on to the Hawkes Bay Black Duck porter. I wasn’t quite sure about this one. It was chilled but probably needs to be much warmer or served ice cold. It’s not the thick & English porter style that I’m more used to. Pleasant, but no more than that. It did go quite nicely with…

…honey roast duck with confit duck leg risotto. This was sweet and delicious, with onion jam, shiitake mushrooms and a little watercress salad. A nice plate of food, something that I wouldn’t make myself at home (it takes time to confit duck really well), full of really nice flavours.

Mrs MOFAD chose the Hapuka fillet with sauté prawns and coconut chilli paua sauce. Hapuka (or hapuku) is a native fish to New Zealand and paua is an edible sea snail, also native to these parts. Paua shells are used in a lot of native jewellery. This was also a lovely plate of food, a nice spiciness to the sauce but not over powering the delicate fish.

As we were treating ourselves, we shared a pudding, this Snickers parfait, beautifully presented, but more importantly lovely flavours of dark chocolate and nuts.

You will also spot Mrs MOFAD’s glass of sweet chenin blanc – full of butterscotch, toffee, and loveliness.

We had a lovely meal at Vidal Estate Winery Restaurant – it was just the right level of poshness – our most “gourmet” experience, nothing off putting for the more casual diner, and somewhere you could enjoy a family meal together, or a quieter dinner for two.

MOFAD approved and the traditional MOFAD card was left. One of our favourite meals of the whole trip.

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Cafe Divine, Napier

Another quick one here. We are in transit from Taupo to Hastings, so decided to stop off in Napier for lunch. Famed for its art deco buildings, it was somewhere we thought we ought to stop for a little while and explore. I think it’s the only time we’ve had to pay for parking anywhere in New Zealand.

We had a little stroll around and then found ourselves somewhere for a quick sandwich (it’s another ham & cheese toastie, a staple around these parts). Cafe Divine is a nice little cafe with an interesting selection of things on the menu, and some lovely looking cakes that we didn’t have time for.

I’ve just realised that you can see a lovely insect bite on my leg, a result of a nasty little mosquito thing that got trapped in the van and bit us both about 5 times each…