Saturday 24 March 2012

A blooming great meal: Fleur's Place, Moeraki

While in New Zealand I hope to do two things - visit Fleur's Place in Moeraki and eat Bluff Oysters. ~ Rick Stein

Once in a while you have a meal that's so good it makes your toes crinkle under the table.  That makes you salivate just thinking about it even weeks later.

On our fruitful trip to Moeraki a couple of weekends ago, we were lucky enough to have lunch at famous Fleur's Place.  I say lucky because you usually have to book in advance and we just rocked up and managed to nab ourselves a table with only an hour waiting time - just enough time to check out the Moeraki Boulders up the road.

{moeraki boulders: rocked my world}

Run by the colorful Fleur Sullivan, Fleur's Place is a bit of a foodie institution in the South Island.  Perched at the old jetty in "sleepy little" Moeraki village on the site of an old whaling station, Fleur's specializes in simple elegant seafood dishes using only the freshest local seasonal produce.  In fact, the menu is based on whatever seafood the local fisherman have caught that day and unloaded on the wharf right beside the restaurant.

The building itself is as pretty as a picture.  Constructed with recycled timber, the place is packed with rustic vintage touches that make it feel so cozy and inviting.  The acoustic guitar player strumming pretty ditties in the corner added to the whimsical ambiance.  Although I'm pretty sure I caught the guy giving my friend Nat the glad-eye.

I had been warned that the meals here were quite expensive but I was actually pleasantly surprised.  Being used to "Auckland prices" the early to mid $30 meals at Fleur's, sure were a stretch for our student budgets, but are actually pretty reasonable for restaurant seafood meals.   Not to mention the portions were pretty generous as well.  None of that chefy minuscule food on big plates nonsense.

Our waitress was gorgeous, incredibly friendly, helpful, and patient.  We umm'ed and ahh'ed for ages and made her pretty much go through and tell us the pros and cons of each dish.  In the end, we ordered three mains and shared them between us.

First up was the Aotearoa scallops with sautéed mushrooms and bacon (smoked in-house!) served with a Pernot cream sauce and rewana bread.  What a combo.  I mean who can resist scallops AND bacon AND mushrooms.  Not many.  If any.

The scallops were big, plump, and juicy and there were heaps of them.  The smokey bacon and mushrooms were tasty and didn't overpower the scallops and the rewana bread was perfect to mop up the creamy unctuous sauce.  Interestingly, I learnt that rewana bread, which is a traditional Maori bread, is made with a fermented potato starter rather than yeast giving it a slightly sour doughy taste and firmer texture.

The star of the mains was the blue cod dish: blue cod wrapped in smoked bacon with steamed cockles in a white wine herb cream sauce served with organic steamed vegetables.  Holy mackerel, this dish was outrageous.  I could eat this all day everyday.  The thick blue cod fillet was succulent and velvety and that herb cream sauce was utterly to die for.  I was slurping it up with a spoon.

I've managed to find the recipe for this dish and it's literally just blue cod, bacon, cockles, cream, wine and herbs.  For real.  Just goes to show super good food doesn't have to be super complicated.

{why we ordered bottled water, fish of the day, pretty vintage bone cutlery}

The 'fish of the day' is pan fried with seasonal vegetables and your choice of: caper and lime, tartare and lemon, spinach oil,  and chilli coconut and coriander sauces.  You get to chose what fish you have and the catch of that day included: moki, greenbone, gurnard, tarakihi, blue cod.  Again our trusty waitress suggested we go with the greenbone as it has a really limited season so greenbone it was.  We chose the chilli coconut and coriander sauce as Nat's flattie had raved about it.

The fish of the day was yum.  Ain't gonna lie though, the blue cod really blew everything else out of the water so poor wee fish of the day really didn't stand a chance but it was beautifully cooked and the chilli coconut coriander sauce was fragrant and tangy if somewhat strongly coconutty.

{the crumble to end all crumbles}

Just when we thought the meal could not get any better, we come to the dessert menu.  All desserts were $14 and included decadent treats such as lavender creme brûlée, chocolate brownie and our choice (with direction from miss waitress of course) was the Central Otago apricot and strawberry crumble with creme anglaise and strawberry ice cream.  It was incredible.  I don't think I've had fresh roasted apricots or strawberries before which was an amazing discovery and that crumble layer.  THAT crumble layer.  I tell you what, it was outta this world.  Cookie like, light, crisp and buttery it changed the way I think crumble should be and inspired me to make this crumble slice.

And what topped off an incredible meal was the bowl of free turkish delights instead of mints at the counter.  How did they know I LOVE turkish delight?  Dream meal really.  We definitely had a whale of a time.

{boulders 4 million years in the making: the stonehenge of new zealand}

Rating: 5/5

At a glance:

Fleur's Place
End of the Old Jetty
South Island
New Zealand
(1 hour drive north of Dunedin)

Open: Wednesday to Sunday from 10:30am

Service: Attentive, extremely helpful and really friendly.  Everything she recommended was amazing.

Food: Simple, elegant, delicious seafood.  Dessert was divine.  Def try the blue cod if you're a fish lover.  There are also non seafood, vegetarian options on the menu and muttonbird!

Price (NZD): $117.50 for three

Scallops with mushrooms and bacon $29.50
Fish of the day - Greenbone $33.50
Blue Cod wrapped in Smoked Bacon - $36.50
Apricot and Strawberry Crumble - $14.00


  1. See the debate a couple of days ago over on Graham Beattie's blog about whether Fleur's Place should have an apostrophe.
    I'm glad you put one there.
    God forbid we should all use greengrocers' (or hairdressers', or restaurateurs') English.

  2. I was blissfully unaware of Apostrophe-gate - thanks so much for pointing it out to me, Daleaway! Being a solicitor and law journal sub-editor in a former life makes me a bit of a stickler for grammar (however, I admit I am guilty of slippages when I'm trying to get a post out quickly) so I completely agree with you and Anonymous (on the Beattie blog): "I am a passionate advocate of the apostrophe & regard it as a bellwether of the health of a society." Hear hear!

  3. I'd been meaning to go see the Moeraki boulders for a while. Didn't realise there was fantastic dining to be had nearby as well! It's definitely on my to-do list now. Thanks! Informative, entertaining and well-written post as usual. :)

  4. I've always wanted to go there too, now I REALLY wanna go, all the food looks so ridiculously appetising. Btw your photography is really good, I especially love the shot of the cutlery.

  5. Nom nom panda: I've been living in Dunners for over a year and only got round to seeing the boulders the other week! Fleurs is a definite foodie must-go spot. It's in Moeraki township rather than near the boulders. Sooooo worth the drive out! ")

    Linno: Awww thanks Linno, I always feel so silly taking cutlery shots but I so LOVE cutlery shots aswell. Just something about pretty cutlery huh? xox



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