Mr NQN and I were a touch tired and our feet sore from strolling around Wellington and seeing all that it had to offer so we were grateful when we realised that our place to dine that evening was metres a couple of hundred metres away from our hotel in Oriental Bay. It was the very high end Martin Bosley's at the Yacht Club on the water which is known for innovative cuisine with an emphasis on seafood.
Boats bob up and down in the water outside. We start with a complimentary aperitif. The waitress named it after one of the yachts outside called "Tracer" that had come in while she was making it. It's gin, creme de cassis and lime as well as other goodies. it's absolutely delicious. We make a mental note to order aperitifs.
Our amuse bouche is a seared prawn with a peanut sauce which is a cream sauce that is peanutty but not quite satayish due to the creaminess. The prawns are an ideal texture and it whets our appetite very nicely thankyou very much.
The trio of tartars $30
The trio of tartars is prettily plated with 3 cubes of raw fish tartars and the corresponding flavours working their way vertically down the plate. With the tarakihi there is a chilled crab bisque, saffron milk wafer and a red capsicum gelee. With the Queensland spanner crab there is wasabi sherbert and pork crackling and with the tuna there is trough clam, soubise (a bechamel sauce with strained onions) and Earl Grey tea powder (the item that persuaded me to order it). They all work wonderfully and even what could have been strong (wasabi sherbert) or strange (earl grey powder) it's well balanced works well with the tartares and lifts it.
Diamond Shell clams 200grams $12
I liked the idea of ordering seafood by the weight so I went for the Diamond shell clams (there are also green shell mussels and salt and pepper fried Malaysian softshell crabs available by weight). I can't decide on whether I want soffrito or chimichurri with it so I leave it up to the chef who chooses chimichurri. The diamond shell clams come out sitting up like little sculptures (and yes rather diamond shaped). Chimichurri is a sauce based on herbs and can change according to the herbs that you have and usually parsley, oregano, chilli and garlic are used in it along with oil. This is not so spicy (we learn that in NZ spicy isn't very spicy) and is mostly parsley, garlic and butter which is aromatic and delicious. Our waitress perhaps knowing how good the sauce is, immediately offers me another roll to mop up the garlicky butter sauce and very drop is scooped up.
Roasted Snaper Head $30
We realise that the roasted snapper head isn't quite for everyone. They tell us that used to throw out the snapper heads so they would end up going to a staff member. Curious, they asked him what he did with them and the told them that it was cooked for the family whole so now it features on the lunch menu. The waitress checks with the kitchen if it is available and thankfully it is (it was a recommendation of Yellow Brick Road's Rachel Taulelei). It comes out in all of its glory and they point out the meatiest bits, the cheek and the back of the neck of the snapper. The meat is sweet and juicy and it comes with mash and a lemon and caper butter sauce. It is finicky and they do provide the tools to eat this dish and Mr NQN in particular enjoys finding the pieces of meat (and yes he does try the eyeball).
Furred and feathered $47 with James Pinot Noir 2006 from Martinborough $21
The "Furred and feathered" dish was a must order and it is pretty as a picture and features cocoa dusted venison short loin, mushroom thyme cake, wild mushroom reduction, beetroot, blackberry powder, carrot puree, smoked tomato jam, suet pork pie, truffled lentils, silverbeet and roasted quail. Wow what a mouthful - literally. This dish was aromatic with thyme, mushrooms and the addition of blackberry powder. The chef appears to like using thyme and incorporating a sweet component to his dishes (at least from the items that we've tried). It's lovely and rich and what I would call an elegant hunter's ideal dinner with all of the delicious components and it's like a mini degustation on a plate. As such I try combining the components but end up eating them separately as I wasn't sure what went together. Mr NQN asks for a wine recommendation to match this meal and they give us a 2006 James Pinot Noir from Martinborough which he adores and says that it's the perfect match.
Alas with the snapper head and the other dishes we have no room for dessert. Looking at the dessert menu it sounded fantastic so it was a decision made with much anguish!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever tried a fish eye or fish head or would you if offered the chance?
NQN and Mr NQN visited New Zealand as a guest of Tourism New Zealand
Martin Bosley's at the Yacht Club
103 Oriental Parade, Oriental Bay, New Zealand
Tel: + 64 (04) 920 8302
Open: Lunch Monday to Friday
Dinner Tuesday to Sunday