In Napier for work, I got to enjoy Scenic Te Pania hotel’s restaurant. Yes I hear you groan as hotel food has a reputation of not being that flash right? However, not The Exchange Bar and Brasserie which appears to sit under the radar. I was so impressed with how sensational the food was, let alone the setting and fantastic service, that I had to share this and it comes totally unprompted and unbiased.
It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with an extensive menu with a special feature for insomniacs. For brekkie, two days running because it was so good, we chose eggs and bacon with a substitute of the delicious sauteed spinach and a side of relish. Lattes were good too. The caesar salad for lunch was gorgeous (with or without chicken) and I did prefer this to the battered (and I was supposed to order it crumbed) fish and chips.
For dinner we shared the game pate entree with roasted pear and candied walnuts. Its presentation and taste was faultless. I forgot to ask what the game was but I played along anyway! Hubby had the GF pork belly stuffed with pistachio and bacon served with carrot puree, black pudding apple gratin, sesame green beans and beetroot tomato chutney. The flavours were sensational and he literally was a stuffed piggy after that. I supported Executive Head Chef (Ahyut Giri’s) native Nepalese goat curry. Served in a rich sauce with dried fruit pulao rice, and tasty wee sides of tumeric potatoes, sauteed spinach and carrot and cucumber salad, it was exceptional. So exceptional that I asked to meet him, which is something I rarely do. To our surprise, sous-chef Mike was working that night, so after 8 years there, he’s obviously well-trained. Yes chef.
Next night hubby wasn’t overly hungry so chose the salt and pepper calamari entree. It was really tender due to being marinated in advance. I had the GF lamb with pea puree, black garlic mash, caponata and the crumbled feta balsamic reduction just finished it off splendidly. I adored every mouthful. We also sampled some excellent Hawkes Bay red wines; Elephant Hill Syrah, Trinity Hill and Esk Valley Pinots. We then met the lovely Ahyut to complement him on his superb talent, mastered after 18 yrs international chefing. He was chuffed as.
Our final night I had the marinated lemongrass chicken tenderloins in a chilli peanut butter sauce with soba noodles. It was nice but I was eyeing up the eye fillet with blue cheese sauce, buttered potatoes, bok choy, roasted mushrooms and tomatoes. I dove in for a quick bite before he could protest. Divine.
We don’t really do dessert and declined but to our surprise and delight, our waitress asked us would we like to sample some wee bites of them all? Nah, yeah. A beautiful, customised shared tasting platter was delivered with chocolate creme brulee, chocolate olive oil mousse, chocolate brownie, butterscotch ice cream cake, apple and frangipane tart and cheesecake. They were all nothing short of amazeballs. Spoilt for choice.
I can’t wait to come back and try the new menu, but most of all to be looked after so well again by the amazing staff. I do hope the Bay local yocals support this place as they’re missing out on something spectacular if they haven’t.
Be warned portions are big so if you’re staying, bring your gym or walking gear. Make sure you stay awake too so you can try something off the insomniac menu, and tell me what it’s like!