Vinnies by Geoff Scott

A friend suggested that I checked out Vinnies for our last date night in Auckland, before we fly out next week. A Kiwi and fellow foodie who's since moved to Singapore, her recommendation means a lot. The menu on the website quickly sealed the deal, which was how The Husband and I found ourselves on Jervois Road in Herne Bay last Saturday night, in anticipation of a fabulous five-course degustation meal.



The restaurant is elegant, posh and ever so slightly mysterious in its design, with black walls, sexy see-through black curtains and luscious cream coloured velvet chairs, with black and white photos of well-known personalities adorning the walls. We were seated in a corner next to a big open window with a good view of the room, and attended to almost immediately with a wine/drinks menu.

I'd already had my heart set on the five-course degustation menu with wine pairing, and so I didn't order any drinks prior to the meal. Service was attentive and efficient, without feeling rushed, and I sat back feeling relaxed for the first time all week as we waited for the first course. 

Amuse Bouche of Watermelon, Mint and Honeydew
First on the menu was the Nashi, Red and Packham Pears, served with walnut, grapefruit, pearl barley and a sesame ginger dressing. The dish arrived looking colorful and exciting, and every mouthful was just that. I loved the combination of sweet, soft pear with the crunch and savoriness of the walnut. The pearl barley added an intriguing texture to the dish, all tied perfectly with the sesame and ginger dressing. It was a delicate yet perfectly balanced dish, and a wonderful start to our five-course meal.

My wine pairing for this dish was the Anne Laure Gewürztraminer 2013 from Alsace, which was also delicate and sweet with enough depth and complexity to complement this beautiful starter of a dish.

Nashi, Red and Packham Pears
Trio of Olive Oil, Sea Salt and the best Smoked Butter I've ever tasted!
Next up was the Ora King Salmon, served with marinated spring onions, enokitake mushrooms, turnip and watermelon. This dish was coupled with the La Crois de Maunay Chenin Blanc 2014 from Vouvray and a strong contender for my favorite dish of the night.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a bit of a salmon fiend. I have salmon at least three to four times a week, in various guises, and this dish brought my tastebuds right up to gastronomic heaven on the first bite. The salmon was soft, creamy, flaky, delicate and perfectly cooked. The spring onion puree was like nothing I'd ever tasted, and made for a beautiful, earthy pairing with the natural oiliness of the salmon, while the watermelon brought little bursts of sweetness to the palate.

The entire dish was exquisite and made for a rather harmonious pairing with the Chenin Blanc, which was lightly sweet and fruity with hints of minerals, and a soft, lingering finish.

Ora King Salmon
The third course for the night was the Whangamata Scallops with chorizo, broccoli, red onions and a peanut harissa. This was another great dish, with perfectly cooked, melt-in-your-mouth scallops that went wonderfully with the bites of broccoli and broccoli puree. I especially loved the slivers of spicy chorizo in it that brought contrast and a burst of intense flavor to the subtle dish. 

This was paired with the Turanga Creek Syrah 2012 from right here in Auckland. I thought it was a strange pairing at first as I was worried that the peppery and earthy flavors of the syrah would overpower the delicate scallops, but it made perfect sense once I had a mouthful of the chorizo. 

Whangamata Scallops
For our fourth item on the menu, we were served the Duck Leg Confit, with crunchy cavolo nero (which is a type of kale), celery, crispy parmesan polenta and black plum. This dish tied with the salmon as my favorite dishes of the night. There was nothing to fault and everything to love about this creation. The flavours were wonderful, the duck perfectly cooked, the skin crispy, and the addition of the parmesan polenta added a lovely textural crunch and creaminess to the dish, that went perfectly with the sweetness and acidity from the black plum.

This was coupled with the 8 Ranges 'Barrel Selection' Pinot Noir 2010 from Central Otago, which was my only miss of the night. I loved the wine, but it didn't quite pair well with the richness and savory flavours of the duck for me. I would have preferred it with something a little more rich, rustic and earthy, perhaps a Bordeaux or St. Emillion.

Duck Leg Confit
The last course on the menu was of course, a dessert, and in this instance, Geoff Scott himself came out to introduce himself and tell us about the dessert, which was a Strawberry Semi-Freddo with vanilla meringue, vsop brandy custard and pecans.

I'm not normally a huge dessert fan, but I loved everything about this dessert. It looked beautiful, and was light and airy without lacking in flavour or texture. The brandy custard was something special indeed and the semi-freddo was beautiful and refreshing without being overly sweet.

My final wine of the night was a Yalumba 'FSW' Botrytis Viognier 2012 from Wrattonbully, Australia. This was a lovely wine - elegant, golden and honeyed - that went perfectly with the dessert. I've never had a botrytis viognier before and it was interesting to note that it was every bit as delicious and elegant as a riesling made the same way.

Strawberry Semi-Freddo
Our entire meal was close to faultless, and each dish a gastronomic delight with plenty of wonderful flavours, fresh ingredients, creativity and excellent technique. This was easily one of the best dining experiences we've ever had in Auckland, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for something a little bit special, except that at the end of our wonderful experience, we learned that this iconic restaurant has recently been sold and will be closing its doors in March!

So unless you manage to get a booking in over the next week, which is also its last week in business, I'm afraid you'll just have to trust my word that this restaurant was something very, very special indeed, and keep an eye out for Geoff Scott and his future ventures in the city. 

I'm so glad we got to experience such wonderful cooking in our final week here! It was the perfect way to say goodbye to a city we love. Thank you so much Geoff, and your wonderful team, for the amazing night!


Comments

  1. What a wonderful meal! Too bad that they are closing. What are those shown in the last photo if I may ask.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mun, it was a ginger candy thing and a light marshmallow that we received after the dessert. :)

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    2. Thank you for your reply! Have a safe journey to Germany!

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