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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Bunker Restaurant, Queenstown

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As soon as we decided on New Zealand for our honeymoon I started scouring the interwebs for places to eat. I searched everything from local favorites to award-winning restaurants.

The Bunker was the first place I made a reservation at. I was immediately intrigued by reviews of the restaurant, most of which mentioned that once they found the place they were quite smitten.

The above is the entrance. It's literally off an alley with very little signage... as you can see.

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Inside is a small, swanky room that holds about 8 tables from what I recall. The dark wood is warm and the tables all give off soft candlelight. On the walls are old, classic pictures.

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Earlier in the day I had to convince B to come here for dinner. I think he might have had a bit too much fried food in the previous days. He did not regret changing his mind and he clearly didn't practice restraint while we were here.

I started off with the gnocchi. Sauteed kumara (NZ sweet potato) gnocchi with wilted spinach, coriander, orange mint and cashews.

I really loved the addition of the cashews in this dish. It makes for a great complement to the super soft gnocchi. Typically the gnocchi I have is paired either with tomato or a cream sauce and this was a really nice, fresh change.

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B had the terrine. Terrine of Central Otago pheasant and duck liver parfait, wrapped in proscuitto, served with port wine jelly and walnut bread.

I'm not a fan of liver in general but I did try this dish. With the walnut bread and a topping of the jelly I really liked it. B loved it.

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Cucumber martini and I cannot remember what was in it. But it was wonderful and refreshing. This is the kind of drink that could really get you in trouble on a hot day.

I love how they put the straws on the outside of the glass! Its basically just stuck there and adds a stylish touch.

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For entree, B had the duck plate. Confit leg and seared breast of Canterbury duck on salardaise potatoes with wilted greens, cranberry coulis and sage jus.

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What is salardaise you ask? We had no idea either. Apparently it is a specialty of the Sarlat area in France (said to be served at every restaurant in the area) and involves potatoes being cooked in duck fat. In a perfect world B would always have a bin of duck fat in our freezer.

Of course, sometimes it better not to live in a perfect world. Otherwise I would be the one to be wearing the permanent "duck fat tire" around my middle.

This dish was amazing. The sauce was light, slightly sweet and slightly tart which is a nice balance to the duck in all it's fatty glory.

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I had the risotto because it is incredibly hard for me to not order the risotto when I see it on a menu. But I was really sold when I saw it was served with smoked rabbit. This is only the second time I had rabbit and the first time it was ground up with other meat in a dish.

Smoked wild rabbit risotto with thyme, shallots, broadbeans and shaved Grana Padano. Grana Padano is a cheese very similar to Parmagiano Reggiano. It is produced the same way but Grana Padano is a milder, more subtle cheese. This dish was amazing and you really got the smokey flavor of the rabbit, which by the way, was fantastic.

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This is just a salad. I'm including it because it was a fantastic salad. All those greens were just packed in there and mixed in with diced vegetables. The salad was fresh and cold and tossed with a simple vinaigrette.

Sometimes it's the simplest dishes that show you how great a restaurant is, you know?

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This was a special that night. Sauteed and caramelized banana crepe with a caramel sauce. I never knew how much I loved sauteed banana before this trip. Sauteed banana and marscarpone.

I'm drooling right now.

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Upstairs is the cocktail bar but it has a completely separate entrance. If we weren't so stuffed we might have gone up to check it out :)


  1. Putting it on the list for whenever I get back to NZ. This year perhaps....I hope. But if not then next year.

  2. I always associate gnocchi's with tomato sauce. I'll have to find a recipe for this one, sounds yummy. Gnocchi's are my favorite!

  3. Great pictures and 'review'! My youngest son, the one with Asperger's, is in Culinary school now (and loving it!). I will have to show him these pictures tonight. He will explain how you make each one. It will be great seeing him 'shine'. Thanks for sharing with us!!

  4. I do the same thing! The most important part of my trip is where I eat and I love food blogs for that very reason, you can get the low down on the best places from locals...

  5. It seems the unassuming from the outside places usually turn out to be the best.

  6. Girl I just figured out your calling. You should totally be a food critic!!! You would rock:)

    I've actually had rabbit. We used to raise them when I was a kid and my dad butchered them and we ate them. It was awful. They were so cute and they screamed when they died! Bet you didn't need to know that.

    Anywhoo most of the stuff looked good, except that nasty terrine. YUCK:) I'd be all over that banana crepe thing:)

    Did you get my email by the way??

  7. That restaurant certainly has a characteristic look. Cucumber martini? Wow--that is a creation right there.

  8. I love your post on food because y'all eat things that I won't ever try and it sure looks good.

  9. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE risotto, too!! Like you, if there is risotto on the menu, I don't even have to look at what the other choices are. :)

  10. Hmmm ... that salad looks DELICIOUS!!


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