In the ‘Adventure capital of the world’ Queenstown, New Zealand, for a friend’s wedding, the opportunity to try some local fare was too good to pass up. After asking around some locals we settled on Rātā by Josh Emett.
Extra mile- 8
Budget – Medium
*Scores are out of 10
Rātā: Overall rating –45 /50 on a low budget
Who’s Josh Emett? Well he’s an internationally recognised Michelin starred chef. That’s who. What this meant for us on this night is we should be in for a treat.
And we were.
I had been hankering for another restaurant not far away, which I’d been to before and has ‘butcher’ in the title. Pretty big tick for me, however, a good few people recommended Rātā, so we took the plunge and went against the butcher.
The setting and ambience instantly won us over, and we sat down in this enjoyable setting to a glass of local Central Otago Pinot Noir, and some friendly wait staff.
A helpful waitress is all well and good, but I was interested in the menu, and was stoked to see many things I would happily eat.
We ordered one of their well known starter bites- Goat cheese profiteroles with Rātā blossom honey. These were a slightly weird mix, but for the tiny bites that they were, they were flavour packed and a real treat. NN wouldn’t stop about the honey; quite the fan.
From this NN ordered the main of Glazed pork belly / pickled cabbage / spiced poached apple / crispy pork terrine and I ordered the Wild venison loin / braised osso bucco / Ettrick carrot / crispy kale. How can they not sound awesome?!
I tried the pork and it was beautiful, which was obvious as NN eventually finished her whole serve (demolished), which isn’t too common, usually a small amount is left for.. ah, me to take care of. My venison was awesome, a lovely rich taste, which I enjoy, but I know can be a touch too much for some, however, this was a lot milder than the wild venison I had in last year’s 52 Meats.
One of the best things about the food in New Zealand is it’s high quality. It’s safe to assume that the meat is from great animals and the produce is grown all but organically. We’ve been treated since we’ve been here, as the wedding was at an amazing winery which served some delightful food and ok wine…
For me being a groomsman, I stayed well away from the wine, of course. Well, until my speaking duties were done…
The little touch on this dish that many people don’t know was the crispy kale. Being an absolute health geek I eat kale quite a lot, using it in salads, smoothies, curries etc. however, I’m aware many people don’t even know what it is.
That was confirmed when the reasonably loud (read- very loud) American tourist a few tables down from us started snapping his food with a long lens and effectively shouting about the food- “Oh kale, this is that food I’ve been hearing about, a superfood”. The vocal tourist was right- this stuff is a superfood. Which is really just to say, compared to most foods people eat, this stuff is super.
An absolute nutrient dense boomer, kale has too many beneficial elements to list. Suffice to say the amount of good stuff per bite is hard to match. High in iron, calcium, anti-oxidants and key vitamins, this stuff should be part of your diet. If you’re not eating kale (not like right this second) you should get your hands on some and start.
Kale is simply awesome for fighting inflammation, alkalizing the body and fighting oxidative stress; all very common issues for the average person these days. If we could all work on these a lot more we’d have a much healthier and happier world.
Takeaways from week 1 in New Zealand
- Eat kale and it’s leafy green friends
- Where possible alkaline your body. Start first thing in the morning with a green drink or a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon
- Search out quality ingredients where possible- such as in New Zealand!
- Make sure if part of a bridal party you sip your drinks, not down in one
As we’re on holiday, I’ve taken the duties for this post and am leaving NN to catch up with a long term friend; however, I’m dragging her away for two minutes to add her 2 cents on Rātā…
I had heard about this place from a client of mine in Sydney, “Nards, you absolutely have to go to this beautiful restaurant called Ratta (said with a distinct Australian twang)”… “OK, sounds great, but I’m not sure there will be a restaurant by that name – how do you spell it?… Oh, Raata” This conversation was followed by some quick schooling on the Maori vowels.
Anyho, semantics aside, Rātā was phenomenal, and whilst I may be a little biased to New Zealand food, the quality and attention to detail was certainly world class.
The ambiance was amazing, and if you truly wanted to experience a little piece of Kiwiana with melt in your mouth food, then this is a must visit place. In fact, do yourself a favour and book a trip to Queenstown this winter, it’s hard to beat.
I shall keep this short and sweet, as I am getting my fill of Central Otago Pinot in the beautiful town of Wanaka.
Til next time…
That’s it for this week. Stay tuned as we’ll be bringing you two more editions from this The Great Nation…
Mike and Nards