Tuesday, February 10, 2015

etcetera ... Bracu restaurant

Cured tuna

So tell me, why would you drive all the way into the city when you can have this?

It’s a perfect summer’s evening and we’re seated on a balcony overlooking olive groves.  We’ve opted for an early dinner and a few diners are smattered around the old villa that holds the restaurant. Conversations are low and unobtrusive.  I feel the day’s work and cares beginning to melt away.

So begins our evening at Bracu restaurant.

A last minute change of mind brought us here. I‘d been charged with a dinner venue for just the two of us. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the choice of restaurants in Auckland and I’d got to the stage of overthinking where to go. Then I thought about Bill driving home from work mid-week and having to drive back into the city for an evening meal. Why not stay local and have a bit of a splurge? We’d been to Bracu for brunch and had always been meaning to go for dinner. Now was the night to try it.

Fifteen minutes’ drive later and we’re there. An amuse-bouche is set before us with handmade bread and the estate’s own olive oil. With a glass of wine in hand, the relaxation vibes are really kicking in.

Not normally one to order seafood, I surprised myself by choosing (and enjoying) the cured tuna. It came with paper-thin apple spheres; tiny cubes of apple jelly; avocado and nasturtiums – exquisite little bursts of taste to complement the fish.

Bill opted for the heartier Rabbit and Duck terrine, which came with a delicious thick slab of homemade brioche and (I think?) a flavoured butter. There were so many extras on each dish, it was hard not to sound like an annoying child with constant questions for the staff. I am chiding myself for not photographing the actual menu presented and taking notes. I mistakenly trusted my memory to work and it proved me wrong yet again.

My main course of beef (meltingly tender), cauliflower, mustard and burnt onion was perfect. The cauliflower was so silken in texture it was hard to imagine it had once been tough and knobbly. The highlight though was the crispy, whisper-thin dried cabbage leaf – amazing.

Bill chose the lamb rump. Take a look at the photograph above - it tasted every bit as good as it looked. We shared a salad of fresh garden leaves and radish with buttermilk dressing.

Lastly, my favourite part of a meal – dessert, yay!  All the preceding dishes had been so good and the desserts were no exception. We decided to split the dishes as I couldn’t decide between the two berries on offer. Bill commented that in the time it took for him to photograph the strawberry terrine placed in front of him, I’d wolfed down half of the raspberry and dark chocolate dessert and was impatiently waiting for half of his. All I can say is that he’s lucky I didn’t eat ALL of it.

We found staff to be friendly, relaxed and knowledgeable (I was impressed - they had so much to remember!). When it came to choose a syrah for the mains, the wait staff were more than happy to talk us through a couple of options and offered us a taste to help us decide our own personal preference and we opted for two different choices. Picking wine by the glass has its advantages.

Pleasantly sated, we set off on the short trip home watching the sun go down over the Bombay Hills as we left.

This was such a pleasant and relaxing experience that we can't wait to return.  Why would we drive all the way into the city when we have this on our doorstep?  Why, indeed?

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