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Paddock to Plate: Maddison's Restaurant

It looks like a simple quenelle, glistening with rivulets of truffle oil and glimpsed between slivers of pure white button mushroom, the stained glass of parmesan wafers and a scattering of mushroom crisps.

We’re two hours into the four-hour gastronomic odyssey that is Maddison’s Restaurant’s spring Paddock to Plate degustation, and the precision-plated mushroom parfait in front of us has the table of gourmands abuzz.

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The truffled love child of a silky symphony of five mushroom species (shiitake, portobello, white button, oyster and enoki), the parfait is an impossible culinary contradiction – full-throttled, rich (almost meaty) earthen mushroom flavours, and decadently creamy, yet luxuriously lighter than it has any right being.

It’s gastronomic alchemy of the highest order courtesy of Continental’s Simo Abbari and Greg Ward, who are in keeping with the Heritage hotel chain’s Good Food Project using only sustainable, locally-sourced and in-season fare to ensure king hits of fresh, pure natural tastes are brought to the fore, sans sugar or salt and pepper, with fresh herbs and spices.

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Add sips of the supple, earthy virtues of Black Estate Pinot Noir 2014’s hints of sun-warmed bramble fruits peppered with flinty minerals, and the result is what taste buds swinging from chandeliers feels like.

It’s only their second Paddock to Plate outing, but Maddison’s Restaurant totally owns the degustation concept. There’s bubbles, canapés and easy getting-to-know-you banter fireside on arrival in the elegant, cosy confines of the private downstairs dining room, before seats are taken at the large share table, awash with white linen and glittering cutlery. Six sublime courses, the culinary creations of two boundary-pushing chefs at the top of their game, are deftly delivered atop designer crockery in a seamlessly orchestrated choreography of five-star dining.

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Accompanied by a flight of premium wines from a local (natch) winemaker, in this instance Waipara wine maestros Black Estate, peerless pairings include: grapefruit, avocado and Akaroa salmon cocktail and Black Estate Damsteep Riesling 2015, merino lamb loin, artichoke, and goat cheese with Black Estate Damsteep Pinot Noir 2014, while citrus and apricot-glazed Canterbury duck breast meets its match with a lively Black Estate Home Chardonnay 2015 (unfiltered) tease the palate.

Add some serious knowledge-sharing care of insider intel from the chefs and winemakers that is dropped throughout the night, and you’re in for an fascinating educational experience as well as a wildly decadent showcase and celebration of Canterbury’s finest. There’s also some serious value for money going down, too, particularly if you nab an early bird ticket!

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Maddison's Restaurant
(03) 983 4895
28 – 30 Cathedral Square
www.maddisonsrestaurant.nz

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