Travelling around the North Island in a motorhome provides a great chance to taste some regional cooking, especially in out of the way spots. Ake Ake vineyard is located a few kilometres from the little town of KeriKeri, near the Bay of Islands. We booked for dinner one Sunday night ( this is necessary as the dining area is quite small) and were able to park our large motorhome and camp there for the night. This offer is only available to vehicles that are completely self contained. No facilities are provided, just a little spot alongside the vines out the back of the restaurant. I love this flexible approach to camping in New Zealand. This enabled us to try a wonderful bottle of Ake Ake wine then trot off to bed after our meal.
Above- Waking up to a chilly but sunny morning in the vineyard.
The entrees were few and this was the only disappointing part of the menu. I should mention that I don’t eat meat, only fish, and so this limited my choice. Three items were on offer- garlic and parmesan ciabatta, ( $9.50 ) seafood chowder ($14.50) and a vineyard platter for two ( $25.00). There was also a special of the day which was meat based.
Starting with garlic bread, to me, is not a sound idea for dinner although it is a crowd pleaser and would probably go well with the platter at lunchtime. As I was ordering the main course of fish, this left very little choice for entree. I had the garlic bread and shared it with Mr Tranquillo, who ordered the chowder. The bread was very filling ( four large slices) and very garlicky. It is fortunate that I love garlic. His chowder was subtle and creamy and included prawns, a scallop and fish.
My fish of the day was a substantial piece of dory, cooked perfectly, served on a bed of tiny roasted Autumn vegetables, with a house made tomato sugo and pesto.($33.00) while Mr T had the gnocchi, which was also served with the Autumn vegetables, a tomato and sage butter and shaved parmesan. ($27.00 ). Both meals were substantial and very satisfying.
For dessert we both ordered the creme brulee of the day, ( $12.50) served with ice cream and a biscotti. The brulee was studded with blueberries and although well executed, with a perfect toffee top to crack, the blueberries detracted from the creamy sensation of the custard. The accompanying ice cream was sensational- a cassis gelato, and the little biscotti was house made.
The Ake Ake Chardonnay was one of the better wines we tried in New Zealand and it is a shame we didn’t start the evening with a quick wine tasting to sample the others.
I would recommend Ake Ake Vineyard and Restaurant for its honest cooking and reasonable prices. It is a modest establishment set in the middle of the vineyard and I suspect it would be a great spot for lunch with friends. Then the platters and breads would shine.
Ake Ake Vineyard
165 Waimate North Road, Kerikeri