While walking the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand most of lodges served hearty home cooked food. A bit of stodge was welcome after a hard days walking. However, Lochmara Lodge stood out from the crowd serving the best food we had on the track.
It was great talking to the friendly American chef from Minnesota before dinner. He had a real passion for the food he was cooking and desire to make sure his guests were happy.
We learnt that they produce / grow as much as possible at the Lodge, with honey and vegetables being sourced only meters from the dining room. The fresh fish comes from the Sound and the chef was on first name terms with all of the fisherman. There are wild boar living in the woods behind the lodge, it was a bit of a shame to hear they haven't had one on the menu yet!
Smiling chef from Lochmara Lodge
We began with two starters to share. The huge Mussels ($16) had come direct from the Sound. They were served with a white wine, cream, red onion and tomato jam sauce. The hint of chilli through the tomato jam was great.
Baked brie, Lochmara chutney and sourdough
Our second starter was the Baked brie, Lochmara chutney and sourdough ($15). Individually excellent the flavours were a little too strong to work together for me. The brie was mild and oozing, but was easily over powered by the chutney.
Grilled butterfish with a smoked tomato sauce
We all all sold on the fresh caught grilled butterfish with a smoked tomato sauce ($34). Butterfish was new to me and it had a melt in the mouth quality (hence the name). The smoked tomato sauce accompanied the fish perfectly and was a real favourite amongst us. The vegetables were al dente with the carrots a little bit on the undercooked side for me.
Chocolate and lavender panna cotta
For dessert we shared two dishes between the four of us. First up was the chocolate and lavender panna cotta ($12). The chef adds sour cream to the panna cotta to achieve just the right texture. Hints of lavender came through at the end of each bite, providing a lovely subtle flavour.
New York cheesecake
You have to trust an American to know how to make a decent New York Cheesecake with basil and plum gastrique ($14). It was a classic dense NY cheesecake which I struggled to appreciate as I slipped into a food coma at the end of a wonderful meal. I'm still none the wiser as to what a gastrique is!
Staying at the lodge meant we returned to the restaurant for breakfast the next morning too. I went for the muesli which had been made with honey from their own bee hives which added a floral note.
Lochmara definitely stood out as the best meal we had on the track. A passionate chef and some great local produce made it a real winner.