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Published June 18th 2016
Best Lamb in Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs, about two hours out of Christchurch, is home to a bevy of restaurants and bars. A standout for the town is No. 31 Restaurant situated on Amuri Avenue. Voted one of the best formal dining venues in all of Hanmer, No. 31 Restaurant caters to tourists and locals alike. With an extensive menu of delicious crafted dishes in this modern bistro setting, it is no wonder that the venue is booked up through the popular tourist season in the South Island of New Zealand.
Five spice pork belly on apple slaw, with petite coconut rice cake, crackling crumble and oriental drizzle @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
Grilled scallops on saffron risotto, with lemon foam, crisp prosciutto, drizzled with black truffle oil @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
Upon arrival the venue has a great relaxed atmosphere. The outside area is perfect for alfresco dining, however on this cooler night indoors was officially the recommended option. A cosy candle lit venue created the perfect setting for the celebrations that were about to take place.
With a perfectly curated menu by its well-established local chef, it is inevitable that each of our guests were going to find something perfect to kick start the evening. Crowd favourites, that were mentioned by our waiter, were the grilled scallops with lemon foam and the five spiced pork belly with slaw, oriental drizzle and crackling. These items were ordered and devoured and gave us a great indication of the quality of food that was to continue.
selection of breads and house made dips @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
Next on the menu were the mains. After being awarded the 2014 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award, its no wonder that the main meat dishes were selected. The lamb rack was elegantly crusted with Mustard and Manuka honey and teamed with Mediterranean pearl barley risotto and thyme. The flavours were perfectly complemented, with subtle hints of the Manuka honey coming through the crusting and the pearl barley risotto providing a creamy base for the succulent lamb to lay on.
Wines from the Wairarapa and Hanmer regions were also ordered to complement the mains. I would highly recommend the Greystone Brothers Reserve Pinot Noir, which seemed to pair really well with the lamb, angus and venison ordered (although priced on the more lavish end of the scale at $130, was definitely worth it). If you are a fan of rose wine the Greystone Rose ($42 a bottle) provides a flavoursome palate pleaser with flavours reminiscent of sun ripened nectarines and peaches and hints of musk rose.
Seared venison fillet, on creamed parsnip puree, with braised red cabbage, pistachio crumb, juniper berry and port glaze @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
Mustard and Manuka honey crusted lamb rack, and crisp lamb belly duo with Mediterranean pearl barley risotto and thyme jus @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
The fish of the day varies daily, however you can assure it is the freshest available and one that will be cooked to perfection by the talented chef on duty. On this occasion, the fish was groper and it was teamed with a pair of Kilpatrick oysters, balsamic glaze and a special sauce that accentuated its flavour and soaked perfectly into the coconut rice cake that the groper was sitting on.
No menu is complete without steak and at No.31 restaurant it the grilled angus beef fillet is the only option, but one that has remained popular. Cooked to the guests liking and served on potato gratin with onion rings, fresh green beans and drizzled with ox jus, it is easy to see why its remained popular.
Fish of the day @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
Grilled angus beef fillet with mushroom duxelle, No. 31 butter on potato gratin, finished with Oxtail jus @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
A fantastic night ends with dessert and with unique options on the menu, it made it very hard to decide. A recommended dish, even for those who do not like liquorish (I am one of those people) is the Hot sticky liquorish pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice-cream. Although liquorish is in the title, there were only subtle hints that were balanced with the use of butterscotch sauce.
For chocolate lovers there is the double chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream. This was quite a decadent fondant that had a gooey centre with rich chocolate. Definitely chocolate heaven.
The vanilla Creme Brûlée with poached rhubarb and spiced apple ice-cream was an interesting combination that I had never tried before. The spiced apple ice-cream had hints of cinnamon which perfectly complemented the creamy brûlée. With a perfect crack on the top it was easy to see why this was a winner on the dessert front.
Hot sticky liquorish pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice-cream @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
Double chocolate fondant with vanilla ice-cream @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo by Praneel Lal)
Vanilla Creme Brûlée with poached rhubarb and spiced apple ice-cream @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
cheesecake with ice-cream @ No. 31 Restaurant (photo instagram @neelsmcgee)
If you head to Hanmer Springs, No. 31 Restaurant is a must for those who are after modern European cuisine. Not only does the restaurant cater for children too, but their meals are designed so they are affordable for guests. If you are after cuisine that is prepared perfectly, matched with local wines, and served by prompt and friendly waitstaff then this venue is a must.