July 13, 2003
After a busy day of hiking on a glacier, through a rainforest and biking to Lake Matheson for a walk around the boardwalk, we were HUNGRY! And this was the perfect place to go.
At 9:30pm we entered the restaurant bustling with such business we actually had to wait a couple minutes to get seated. A massive brick wall and fireplace separated a huge room into two cozier ones. Wooden tables, chairs, timber poles, black and white photographs of early adventurers on the glacier, a maroon ceiling with squiggly black iron light fixtures, gas lanterns, animal heads, and a massive bar filled the room. There was a pleasant buzz of happy, contented patrons both locals and tourists. Wonderfully laid-back, it was a great place to unwind after a busy day.
Our smiling waitress promptly brought us water and menus, taking time to tell us which dishes were local favorites. Scanning the menu we saw main selections (NZ$14.50-28) included salmon filets, lamb chops, venison on polenta with blackberry sauce, grilled chicken with tiger prawns, enchiladas, pasta dishes, grouper, ribs and oddly enough, a Howdy Doody Burger. Appetizers, or grazing items according to the menu, ranging from NZ$3.50-17.50 included avocado and shrimp salad, calamari salad, mussels and smoked salmon.
We both selected the spicy chicken enchilada (NZ$18.50), eager to see the New Zealand twist on Mexican food. My surprise came early when our waitress asked if we wanted pumpkin, zucchini, carrots, or cauliflower with that, then asked us to choose between a baked potato or french fries. With an enchilada?? Interesting . . . but where were the margaritas? Sorry, not served here.
Our enchiladas -– and other dishes passing within view -– were huge. Shredded chicken, chili beans, bean paste, onions, lettuce and brie cheese (what else in NZ) were stuffed into flour tortillas and decorated with a scoop of diced tomato chunky salsa instead of enchilada sauce. Although described as spicy, again no luck, but we were getting used to that. It was remarkably tasty and quite filling. I certainly didn't need or eat the huge baked potato that accompanied it, but enjoyed the unusual taste of pumpkin as its side dish.
But the best part was dessert. Despite being full, we couldn't resist our waitresses' glowing report of the fantastic desserts. Her favorite was the Pavlova, delicate meringue topped with fresh fruit, cream, AND ice cream. (Really, the meringue and fruit are plenty!) So I tried it. Fabulous, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. From that moment on I looked for Pavlova on menus wherever we went, but never saw it again even in Christchurch, Auckland, Dunedin . . . David's berry cheesecake had large juicy berries visible in the thick creamy slice. Heavenly. Stuffed from dinner? Take our waitress' advice, you really have to make room!
From journal Magnificant Rainforests in my favorite glacial village Fox, NZ