ADDRESS: 2375 State Highway 50, Hastings
LUNCH: 7 days
MAINS: $17.50 – $70
SCORE: 15.5 / 20
So many chefs chant the fresh, locally sourced produce mantra, but Stephen Tindall (pictured) and Leyton Ashley genuinely serve up the goods, with a hefty dollop of originality and innovation. Pekepekekiore mushrooms, grown only by Hillcroft Mushrooms in Napier, are chargrilled alongside the crunch of crispy kale, tender shiitake mushrooms and a creamy porcini custard, with greens freshly picked from the chefs’ garden. Smoked eel and watercress parfait with celery salt contrasts the saltiness of eel, seaweed and sea lettuce against the creamy parfait. Confident, knowledgeable staff offer wine recommendations, all selected from the Villa Maria stable. Set among acres of vines, the restaurant building is rustic and barn-like and perfect for a long, lazy lunch.