My first culinary experience was lunch at Martin Bosley's Yacht Club Restaurant at 103 Oriental Parade, Wellington. (It is named Oriental Parade after one of the first ships which brought immigrants to Wellington, which was called the Oriental.) Martin's restaurant was awarded best fine dining experience and supreme winner of the Cuisine Restaurant of the Year Awards in 2007. My attention was first brought to Martin's restaurant by an article in one of Melbourne's newspapers, The Age.
Martin Bosley's Yacht Club Restaurant is situated, as its name suggests, right on the Wellington harbour front, next to the Royal Yacht Club. The views from the restaurant are stunning, and some tables are located outside to take advantage of the sea breezes and vista:
(Yep, that's my table reflected in the glass.)
(The children in the background of the second photograph were amusing themselves on a perfect March day by jumping from the pier on which they were sitting into the water.)
The layout of the restaurant is bright and open, and the inside tables are arranged around a floor-to-ceiling plate glass window so that indoor diners can also enjoy the view. I was sitting inside against the window and near a side door which had been propped open on this rather warm day to allow a refreshing sea breeze to flow through.
While I was waiting for my meal, I was served the complimentary cocktail of that day, called a "Bluebridge" after one of the boats that sails on Wellington harbour. I am not sure of everything in this cocktail, but I can say that it contained dark rum, brandy and lime, and that even though I am not a huge spirits drinker, I enjoyed this light, refreshing drink. I was also served an amuse bouche of an oyster with champagne foam and roe, which was delicious.
Martin's speciality and the focus of the menu is on fresh seafood, although there are other items on the menu. I skipped the entrees (so as to have room for dessert ;)), but oysters were among the choices for starters.
For my main, I chose crispy skinned snapper simply grilled and served with vegetables. There were three other choices of fish on the menu that day (the menu varies depending on what fish is available from the market), but Martin himself recommended this fish. I was not disappointed with my choice:
The vegetables were spinach, bok choy, shitake mushrooms, a type of garlic dish and mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were very special because they were served in a small pot which made them look for all the world like a pot of butter, and they were smooth, creamy and delicious. The snapper was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth - definitely a long way from the sometimes rubbery grilled fish that I churn out at home. The fish varieties are also served by the restaurant in a number of other ways, but I preferred the simplicity of the grilled fish and vegetables.
By the time I finished my main meal, I felt that I couldn't eat another bite. However, I was tempted by the many delicious-sounding desserts. On the recommendation of the waiter, Charlie, I chose a dessert called "Three Reasons to Love Peaches":
And oh boy, does this dessert give you reason to love peaches! It consists of grilled peaches, peaches poached in red wine and peach icecream, offset by crumbled meringue, lemon verbena custard, blackberries and what looked and tasted like a miniature vanilla panna cotta, all beautifully presented. This combination was so light and melt-in-your-mouth that I was easily able to fit it in.
I chose a glass of Momo 2006 Pinot Noir from New Zealand's Marlborough region and a bottle of sparkling New Zealand mineral water to accompany my meal.
What made my visit to this restaurant a super-special experience was that the chef de cuisine himself, Martin Bosley, came out and spoke to me. Martin took me through the fish varieties available that day, and asked me whether I had enjoyed my experience at the completion of the meal. I was absolutely gob-smacked that an award-winning chef would take the time to talk to a non-descript diner off the street like me, even during a relatively quiet Tuesday lunchtime. I was delighted that he did, and also that he amiably agreed to be photographed (at my suggestion) next to some of his awards:
My meal at Martin Bosley's Yacht Club Restaurant was an amazing experience, and was well worth the price. If you visit or live in Wellington, I highly recommend making a reservation at this restaurant - the setting, the service and the food are, IMHO, fantastic, and truly deserve the title of "fine dining".