Arbour was our most exquisite meal in Marlborough. Located off Blenheim town center, the largest township in Marlborough, the standalone restaurant is remote and intimate. Summer will find the restaurant opening earlier, at tea-time, to thoroughly relish the warm weather ("warm" may be a stretch, as Summer temps go up to only about 18C). Grab a bottle of NZ finest Sauvignon Blanc, order a few nibbles, then park yourself on the outdoor patio, which is bathed in sunlight, and while the languid afternoon away.
Until the sun sets, at least, when you return indoors for the dinner service. Save for Summer tea-time bites, Arbour is a dinner-only restaurant. A seasonal degustation of 3, 5, or 7 courses, locally sourced of course, is the only offering on the menu. I suggest getting the full 7 courses, (NZ$98). Each course is pretty petite, so 7 courses aren't exactly gut-busting, and at just under a hundred bucks, it's about the cheapest degustation ever.
Arbour's food has got the soul of a homecooked meal, but the sophistication of a fancy restaurant. Just think of it like dining at a friend's home who's mindblowingly talented and plates like an artist. Really, Arbour has the prettiest plates I've ever seen. Totally Instagram-able and #foodporn hashtag-worthy, as the Hubs rightfully pointed out. And the food tasted as fantastic as it looked. Everything was just so incredibly balanced, and executed with such effortless flair.
We started off with a salad of Summer Tomatoes, Goats Curd, & Jamon, where the sweet piquancy of the tomatoes was countered by the salty pungency of the jamon, which is then given a twist with the grassy funkiness of the goat's cheese.
The bold flavour of the Cured Salmon Belly was complemented by the intense sweetness of spanner crab, enlivened by fresh green apple dice, and pulled together by a slight weave of white miso.
The 63C Egg was one of the most perfectly formed eggs I'd ever seen. It's a compulsive obsessive's dream-come-true. This was accented by sauteed wild mushrooms splashed with a heady dose of Dom, wilted baby spinach, and toasted brioche crumbs.
The Pulled Duck Leg, luscious and tender, was tossed with green peas, caramelised nuts, grains, seeds, grilled new asparagus, purple basil, and dollops of cumin-spiced tomato puree.
The sumptuous Slow cooked Beef Sirloin was melt-in-your-mouth, and served with roasted cauliflower and baby carrots, and slathered in a black garlic jus.
The palate cleanser was a Cherry & Earl Grey Ice, nuanced, refreshing and clear.
The finisher was a Soft Chocolate Powder, studded with fresh apricots and blueberries, and topped with milk snow. Rich and decadent.
The restaurant facade.