Prego: Cuisine – Villa Maria Restaurant of the Year Competition

In the evening there is parking next door, but on a rainy lunchtime we arrived like drowned rats :(

226 Ponsonby Rd,
ph: 09-376 3095,
Lunch and dinner 7 days $65

Entrée Crispy skin pork belly  & pistachio nut roulade on  peppered beetroot & spinach with peach aïoli with Villa  Maria Single Vineyard Omahu Gravels Viognier 2007
Main Pan-roasted duck breast, vanilla mashed yams, sautéed cavalo nero, tamarillo compote  & black fig molasses, with Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2005

This was a brilliant matching of food and wine, with the viognier strong enough to partner the heavier than usual starter. (Why do Kiwis call starters Entrées when in France, USA and the UK this word refers to the main meat course? Isn’t it time we either grew up and said “Starter” or learned to use the foreign term more or less correctly?) The superb Syrah also complemented the duck well. In neither case did either the food or the wine overpower the other.

The service was also excellent, when we arrived in a windy downpour staff explained that the vacant table might suffer a draft and explained our choices. The young woman who served our table was attentive (even spotting a grimace from Barbara and checking that the problem was not with the meal) and seemed enthusiastic about the food. Service was prompt (apart from the inevitable wait at the start, late on a busy lunchtime), efficient and not obtrusive.

The starter was interesting, though I would have liked the pistachio to be more evident, and think the pork skin should have been crisp (as indeed the menu suggests) even when served round shredded meat. Despite those quibbles this dish was interesting, and a fine match for the deep and interesting wine.

The main was a delight. The vanilla yams and the fruity juices complemented the duck as well as being interesting in their own right. The wine again worked with the food rather than one or the other “winning” :)

Food: Very good
Wine matching: Excellent
Service: Excellent

We can’t wait to try the next one!