On 12 December last I and some friends visited The Old Church Restaurant in Meanee, a suburb of Napier. It merited a rather mixed review on this Blog.
I have been since and things had improved. Tonight I returned with Mo and her daughter Fiona. Fiona, in particular, is a foodie and both are world travellers well qualified to pass judgement on an eaterie.
The first thing of favourable note was that the lady on reception was not wearing the DECT phone headset that has always greeted guests in the past and about which I've heard more adverse comments than any other single aspect of the Restaurant.
We sat in the main body of the restaurant this time instead of in the conservatory section that I've sat in on previous occasions. The ambiance is different. It is a very interesting building and the decorations are way over the top with lots of different styles and fuss. The interesting thing is that it works. There are a few irritations. For example if you are waiting for friends and want a drink or want coffee after the meal away from the table then the chairs in the separate lounge area are large and spaced so far apart that it involves a fair shout to communicate. There are large settees, however, for couples.
The glasses for the red wine have changed and are now large interestingly shaped balloons which are more suitable for releasing the bouquet and the flavour of the wine and, in my opinion, just so much more comfortable and comforting to hold than the original V shaped glasses. It would be a nice touch if someone poured the wine after the first glass. It would make one feel 'looked after'.
I have had the Flash Fried Baby Prawns with a Sweet Chili Aioli Sauce on three occasions and it has never failed to please although I've discovered that it makes a mess if you drop it down the front of your shirt. The fish was beautifully cooked and presented and the balsamic mixed berries with the crème brulée were wonderful.
The waitress who served us when we started the meal was delightful but disappeared soon after never to be seen again and we felt deserted and, talking of desert, had to ask for service in order to get it.
If The Old Church is trying to compete with the best of the Wineries Restaurants such as The Mission and The Black Barn then, when it comes to service in particular, it has a long way to go.
I will try again in a year and see if it's improved. In the meantime there are too many other wonderful eateries in and around Napier.