A customer's review
Ok, so I was cynical. Very. Victoria’s, formerly Sierra Café, reopened with a bang in September and then…..the daytime café scene was as vibrant as ever but the evenings never really found their feet. Was it 5 star dining? Had we seen it before in Taupo? Was it too pricey?
The arrival of Jason Lewis, previously the Executive Chef for Bistro Lago under Simon Gault, has seen a complete change in direction. The flow from day to afternoon to evenings now seems more seamless, more relaxed, more choice, less restrictive. Yet still I was hesitant to try. Why? I just couldn’t quite get my head around the menu.
And then I went for dinner. WOW. We chose the Butcher’s Choice Rib Eye – made from local suppliers, Sharon & Mike Barton’s Taupo Beef’s cows. We were told that as they are made to order it would take 45 minutes and a couple of sharing plates would stave off the hunger until then….going against my normal grain, I chose mussels with a chorizo crumb and my partner chose the squid. The squid came out on top by a whisker (or tentacle) but both were melt in the mouth, not chewy (bad memories from a childhood!) and just enough to whet our appetite for more.
I was still on the Ruapehu Summit beersie that we decided to share on arrival despite the custom made, non-alcoholic cocktails sounding delicious but it had been a long day at the office and a beer was called for! We also ordered a bottle of the Clearview Beachhead Chardonnay as recommended by the barman. Clearview is run by Tim and Lisa and boy do they know how to make a good drop! We were advised that the wine would also match up to our mains and at $40 a bottle the deal was done.
In just under the pre-warned 45 minutes, the most beautiful, and huge, cut of meat arrived at the table, complete with mustard, horseradish crème fraiche and best of all, being British, homemade Yorkshire puds ‘n gravy! Jason came out to chat with us and yes, it is his mum’s recipe and yes, she is a Brit too. Concern over the gravy because, let’s be honest, everyone likes their mum’s the best, dissipated at first taste. We decided to team our main with a Med salad – a real contrast to the traditional ‘roast’ flavours but the spuds and veg, sourced from local growers, are there to chose from too if you wish.
Our meal could have easily fed 3, if not 4 people with a couple of extra sides. Great value for money at $50 (sides are extra). We were replete but then dessert….Eton Mess for me and Pop’s Sundae for my partner. The food coma was starting to kick in at that point and all I can remember is that it was truly delicious. We got chatting to the table next to us who were on their anniversary dinner – it’s that kind of place; go, sit down, chill out, have some exceptional food, a little or a lot (we went for the latter!), some great drinks and enjoy it.
Is it fine dining? No. Does it need to be? Definitely not. This is conceptual dining where you can choose; mix and match, try different combinations but leave knowing you have eaten exceptionally good ingredients all created by a very skilled and talented kitchen.
So am I cynical still? Not at all. Cynical partner convinced that going out for dinner is a good thing after all? Tick! Can’t wait to try that pork loin…….
Posted: Wednesday 14 January 2015