My overall rating: 5/5
I was invited to the Simunovich Olive Estate to lunch at Bracu Restaurant which for those of you who don’t know is located on the outskirts of Auckland nestled in the rural area of Bombay. I had never been to Bracu before and found myself in awe of the landscape – despite being an overcast and slightly drowsy day, the scenery didn’t lose it’s beauty. There were olive trees scattered around the grounds and groomed green shrubs boarding the property and path to the restaurant. The signs directing us where to go were my favourite.
When we walked into the restaurant we had a table awaiting us out back on their deck. This had glass walls barricading the wind but allowed us to see the gardens and feel the warmth of the sun. We were presented with a special menu created by Chef Mikey Newlands of Bracu to showcase a selection of dishes from the upcoming season along with a gift bag containing Olive Skincare products which are their own skin care brand that contain extra virgin olive oil in the products.
We started with a glass of Louis Bouillot Grand Reserve Brut, Bourgogne and a platter with Home Baked Sourdough. There were a range of accompaniments which included items from their own backyard. Their plump green olives along with their own Simunovich Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil really showcased the quality of the estate. The seeds were still in each olive and with each bite I instantly fell in love with them. I’d never tasted anything like that before – the taste was significantly richer that the standard olives you’d find on your supermarket shelves. Along with these was their hand churned butter which was so soft and creamy with just a slight salty taste. It paired perfectly with the soft sourdough bread which was made using bacon and beer.
Our first course started with a Terrine of Leek, Lobster and Free Range Chicken. This was accompanied by a brioche solider topped with truffle cream, whole sliced pickled black walnuts, candied walnuts and a mixture of raw and pickled celery and paired with Opawa Pinot Gris. It was the first time I’d ever tried a terrine before and found myself tentatively trying it out. I was pleasantly surprised with the combination of different flavours and textures. The solider was so heavenly. It’s softness contrasted well with the crunch walnuts both pickled and candied and the added truffle cream was perfection. I could have eaten a platter of these!
Our second course was Angel Hair Pasta with Crispy South Island Whitebait & Meyer Lemon which was paired with Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc. When I first read this on the menu I was very anxious about it. Whitebait has never been something I’ve found appetising enough to put into my mouth. I tend to find seeing a bunch of beady eyes on my plate slightly off-putting. Mikey created this dish by coating the whitebait and making it crispy. These were delightful and would be perfect for someone who was trying whitebait for the first time. There were also whitebait folded through the pasta which blended with the silkiness of the pasta. They used their own Meyer lemons throughout which gave the dish a strong acidic taste which along with the herbs and micro greens bought a freshness to the dish. It reminded me that as we come into the Spring/Summer season, we can still enjoy pasta.
Loin and Rib of Lamb with Asparagus, Tomato and Gremolata was served as the third course and main. It was paired with Awhitu Syrah which was a peppery red wine. This dish was something truly exquisite. Mikey showcased the lamb in two unique ways. For the lamb loin, he rolls this before poaching it to a beautiful medium rare and searing it. For the rib of lamb he brasses it with a mix of balsamic and herbs before rolling it into a ball and searing it off. He then cleans the rib bone and sticks this into the ball which he has nicknamed the Lamb Lollipop. I can’t even describe how sensational this was as the ball when broken was softly pulled lamb which just melted in my mouth. It was my favourite element from the dish and overall for the meal. This dish overall was truly spectacular and every little detail was consistent on each dish. There was one tiny tomato which you can see on the birds eye view to the left and the other tomato which had little spring onions placed on top of the half. I loved that I also was able to try exclusive produce which I otherwise would never have tried such as the delicately sweet white asparagus and the black crumb made up of a combination of lamb, olives and pine nuts.
We concluded the lunch with sweet treats that included a scrumptious fresh lemon madeleines which were airy and light followed by a square of Guanaja chocolate tart sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. The dark chocolate was a perfect way to end the lunch.
We took a tour around the Simunovich Olive Estate walking through the olive trees while learning about the process used to create their own olive oils. We then headed to the onsite factory which is where the olive oil is created along with their Olive Skincare range. There was an invitation to sample some of their award winning oils including their Extra Virgin Olive Oil which took home Reserve Best in Show and won a Gold Metal at the 2015 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards this past weekend. I also favoured their Frantoio Extra Virgin Olive Oil which also won a Gold Metal and Best in Class.
Experience it for yourself
If you’d like to experience this for yourself Bracu are currently running a package deal for a Bracu Supreme Experience which is $199 per person until the end of the month. You will get the experience above which includes a 4 course meal with wine matches created by Chef Mikey Newlands, an olive oil tasting and a gift bag valued at $60. Contact the team here to book your reservation.
Bracu Restaurant & Pavilion
49 Main Road
09 236 1030