Punakaiki was the last stop on our grand tour of the top and West Coast of the South Island.
This grand tour had severely tested my bloke's patience given my insistence we stop at every antique, secondhand and junk shop from the moment we left Christchurch, resulting in our luggage now travelling in the back seat after being evicted from the boot in favour of a vast collection of, what he tersely described as, "miscellaneous crap".
And so it was that we pulled into Punakaiki Resort, booked in for the night, and reserved a table for two at Punakaiki's Jacobs Grill, which forms part of the resort.
Contemporary in design, with floor to ceiling windows Jacobs Grill thoughtfully places tables far enough apart to keep conversations private and satisfy my need for personal space.
The menu focuses on quality rather than presenting a laundry list of offerings and the choices range from Thai green curry to beef fillet and pan seared turbot.
We started with a strong drink and garlic bread. Garlic bread, like creme brulee, is one of those deceptively simple things that can range from the downright inedible to the sublime.
Jacobs Grill hits the sublime, not too dry, not soggy, not searingly hot and not lukewarm. Goldilocks would have pronounced it just right.
Fish and chips sounded like a good idea when it came in the form of turbot coated in Monteiths Radler beer batter. At $29.50 it was probably the most expensive fish and chips I had ordered but the serving was magnificently generous, the fish sea fresh, the batter golden and crispy... and I lost half of it to the bloke. He had ordered the beef fillet, which came with sauteed potatoes and green beans topped with a sauce of portobello mushroom and mild blue cheese which was similarly generous in quantity.
Like the fish and chips, the cooking and presentation was magnificent and his mood lifted accordingly.
We considered the pudding department, which offered a duo of ice creams with raspberry coulis, chocolate mud cake and vanilla bean creme brulee, but reluctantly passed.
The service at Jacobs Grill was exemplary; attentive, discreet, no waving of ground pepper missiles to interrupt us and a jazz CD in the background played at a suitably low volume.
If there was to be a quibble it would be with the very large portions, but better that than staring wistfully at a near empty plate with a smear of food elegantly arranged in the middle.
An after-dinner walk along the beach now seemed worthwhile and then we retired for the night and listened to the sea roll in.
His general feeling of well-being continued right up until the next morning when he opened the car boot to find I had liberated some rocks from the beach for the garden.
Jacobs Grill Punakaiki Where: Punakaiki, West Coast
When: Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Cost: Starters up to $19.50 Mains up to $39.50 Puddings up to $16.50 Upside: Menu and service Downside: You'll need to be hungry to do the serving sizes justice.
- The Press