I’m pleased to be able to tell you about something new from one of Hawke’s Bay’s oldest and best loved wineries. I’m talking about Church Road Winery, who after four long years has re-introduced a la carte dining back into their restaurant.
Previously you could always enjoy a lunch platter with your wine, however now they have partnered with Jenny Parton from Dish Catering to run the kitchen full time. Probably more well known for her catering cuisine at the Hawke’s Bay Opera House and Great Late Long Lunch, Jenny is a seasoned culinary pro and has created an outstanding menu to enjoy at Church Road.
Open 7 days a week from 11am-3pm every day, the full kitchen service will operate during the summer months so you have until the end of March to get along for lunch.
Diners can choose from a selection of starters, sharing plates, sides, desserts, sweet treats and cheese plates with the much loved lunch platters still available. They also have a kids menu with options for gluten free and vegetarian diners.
I sat down with a fairly aggressive appetite so made a start with the Chorizo Polenta chips with a beetroot and roast garlic mayonnaise. Served on skewers, these were not like any chips I’ve ever tasted and confess to becoming that person who doesn’t want to share.
There were two of us and for mains we selected two share plates each which were more than enough to satisfy our hunger. My top pick was the chicken schnitzel, roasted cauliflower and edamame salad with sesame dressing, mustard seed mayonnaise and radish watercress. We also tried the pork belly, calamari and soft shell crab which were all delicious and full of great fresh flavours. Each dish has a selected wine match to accompany it which I really like because it gives you a chance to taste some interesting varietals that you might not usually drink, without having to commit to a bottle.
You can dine inside or outside in the garden, and if you fancy whiling away the afternoon then there’s a Petanque court and balls available to keep you amused.
Home to the only wine museum in the country, Church Road is also a big draw card for visitors from near and far. Well worth a look, the museum highlights over 100 years of NZ winemaking and is more of a living wine experience with artefacts and models depicting activity through the years. It is underground in old concrete wine vats and when you walk through you can actually see the tannin stains on the walls from where the wine used to be stored.
Their cellar door is open for tasting and sales every day 10am-5pm and tours of the working winery and museum run at 11am and 2pm. The tour includes a visit to the Tom McDonald Cellar which I think is one of the most beautiful venues we have in Hawke’s Bay. Due to its size, style and great acoustics, the cellar is a great option for weddings, parties and conferences.
In other big news for Church Road, Chief Winemaker Chris Scott, has been voted 2013 New Zealand Winemaker of the Year with Winestate Magazine. It’s great to see our regional talent awarded these accolades, and a great excuse to taste their wines!
For more info or to check out the events on offer at Church Road this summer go to www.churchroad.com