I’ve always loved Salute (pronounced salootay) restaurant in Greytown, even before I moved to Wairarapa. When I was a feature writer for North & South magazine, I often wrote restaurant reviews (a task I disliked, having been a restaurateur for about six years and knowing what can go horribly wrong the very night a reviewer decides to pay a visit) and wrote up Salute for the magazine as one of the best in New Zealand.
I’m happy to report Salute is still magnificent. Each Thursday a group of us go cycling around south Wairarapa – mainly for the nice lunch at the conclusion of our ride. Yesterday we were celebrating the birthdays of Pam and Dawn, so it called for a special lunch. What better than Salute, so after cycling 10km out to the Woodside Railway Station and back, we settled down with a couple of bottles of wine and the anticipation of good food.
Dawn ordered the wine – I can’t remember what the red was, but the white was beautiful: Pegasus Bay Riesling from Waipara, north Canterbury. I’m sure I’ve had this wine before, but after a bike ride on a cold winter’s day, when your cheeks are flushed and your body’s cooling down, this riesling’s fruitiness and slightly spritzy taste was perfect.
The food at Salute is, as they describe it, contemporary mediterranean. I ordered porcini scented risotto with beef tagine, preserved lemon, black olives, mushrooms, peas and parmesan and it was yummy – not too dry. Stephanie Alexander, one of my favourite cooks (an Australian) reckons if you order risotto in a restaurant and it arrives before 20 minutes is up, you’re in trouble. She’s right, risotto can’t be hurried, and it can’t be totally cooked in advance then banged in the microwave – it tastes like warm, stale, crumbled sushi. Not nice.
Dinnee ordered risotto (she thought, but we’re all a bit forgetful these days) but got the chickpea battered fish with creamy potato skordalia and Lebanese salad. It looked great, and Dinnee was pleased they’d made a mistake (conceding she might have made a mistake), so next time, since I’m going gluten-free these days, I’ll order this dish.
And as always, the service at Salute was faultless – smiling, efficient and patient.
Oh, and I didn’t blog yesterday because I thought broadband was down, but actually I’d plugged a telephone into a jack in the winery, and for some reason that threw the system. Told you we’re getting vague, but at least I remembered what might have been the cause of my problems.