The Matakana Village Pub
Heading into their third summer, the team at the Matakana Pub are pretty damn happy about where they are right now. They’ve just been awarded the international certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor, and they made it into the top five on the Herald’s best beer bars list. The pub is solid during the week and heaving at the weekends. Happy landlord Duncan Anderson gets serious when it comes to the grub. ‘We focus on hospitality because that’s what we love – and hospitality starts with a great meal.’ The Matakana’s head chef, James Patterson, is very keen to back this up with his delicious new summer menu. Junction staff are called in to try it out.
Lobster and Monkfish Roll with Smoked Paprika Mayo – paired with Takatu Poppies Rosé or Zeffer Citrus Cider.
Duncan points out that the richness and natural sweetness of the lobster is perfectly complemented by the ‘focused, dry palate and subtle, fresh acidity’ of the aromatic rosé. This is true. Junction girls say little except ‘Mmmmm, wow!’ Quite messy though. After a quick wipe-down, the Zeffer Citrus Cider is tried as well, to great effect. Not a pairing we’d normally go for – but the crisp, lemony cider works remarkably well with the seafood.
Cajun Spiced Blackened Warehou and Apple Slaw – paired with Takatu Pinot Gris or Oh Brother IPA.
James’ Carribbean spice mix blackens just one side of the firm, translucent fish. Duncan starts to say that ‘the textural layers of the wine’s palate build with the savoury spice of the fish, allowing each to…’. Here, sadly, there is nearly some elbowing amongst the Junction staff to fork up the last bits. The IPA beer causes a stir with the girls – is there a hint of cat-box in its ‘nose’? The chaps adore its tropical fruit flavours but there is meaningful female eye-contact. More Pinot Gris is sampled.
Whole-pan whitebait fritter with Ransom Albarinho or Sawmill Pilsner
Duncan points out with admirable passion that the whitebait is local – Hoteo river fish, from less than 50km away. Also that the pale gold Albarino is a Spanish grape, well suited to Matakana. But here comes the fritter: hot, buttery, crisp, and stuffed with tiny tender fish. There’s a preserved-lemon mayo and a tangy caper pickle with it. The wine match is perfect, although James prefers the dewy Sawmill Pilsner with his. We interrupt Duncan with cries of ‘Oh my God!’ and ‘Incredible!’
Duncan giggles, claps James on the back and says, ‘Good one, James.’ Some time later we manage to leave for home … all agree that local seafood accompanied with just the right amount of lovely local bevvies makes for a good life.
11 Matakana Valley Road, Matakana
T: 09 422 7518
Photos by Louise M Photography