You know you’ve discovered a gem of a restaurant when your first visit has you planning your next. And that’s exactly what will happen when you visit The Hunting Lodge. The stunning destination restaurant—and its incredible setting—will woo your heart (and taste buds) time and time again.
A leisurely Sunday (or weekday!) drive away, The Hunting Lodge sits pretty in Waimauku. It’s a hop, step and a jump from Kumeu, surrounded by breathtaking vineyards, forest and farmland. You’ll feel a million miles away from the city... even though it’s just a 30-minute drive from the city centre!
Owned and operated by the oh-so passionate Sutton family, the 80-acre estate offers it all. The restaurant is situated in a dreamy historic villa, while the café is adjoined to a cellar door brimming with seasonal wines. There’s also ‘the barn’ that doubles as the perfect rustic wedding venue—swoon!
Escape the city and relax on the villa’s veranda (wine in hand, obvs) and eat your way through the divine dishes. At the helm of the kitchen, you’ll find acclaimed chef Des Harris (ex Clooney) alongside head chef Ash Abramowitz. They’ve crafted a seasonal menu showcasing a farm-to-table philosophy, or, as they call it, pasture to plate.
The kitchen team hand-in-hand with The Hunting Lodge’s permaculturist, Josh Mainwaring. Josh has created a lush garden where the restaurant sources leafy greens, herbs and vegetables. Similarly, fruit comes from trees on the property. While the aim is to grow everything on-site, the rest is sourced locally, including meat and fish. It doesn’t get fresher than this!
Over the weekend, you’ll find a mouth-watering brunch menu. There’s duck prosciutto with duck heart sauce (one of Des’ faves) and a ham with cheese toastie (an Urban List fave). The signature big breakfast comes with all the trimmings including thick-cut bacon, black pudding, potato rosti and perfectly gooey lardo fried eggs.
The deliciousness continues across the lunch and dinner menus—you’ll want to eat it ALL. Start with the unmissable charcuterie board with the likes of house-cured aged meats, parfait, pickled veges and Vix’s freshly baked bread. There’s also smoked Akaroa salmon with beets or beef carpaccio with flavours of lemon, thyme and miso—what a combo!
For mains, dig into venison loin, lamb rump or a comforting pappardelle with pork sausage and fennel. We can’t go past the smoked Leigh snapper served with veges and herbs from the garden. And remember: the seasonal menu is ever-changing (giving you an excuse to visit on the regular, amiright?!).
Stick around for dessert and you’ll be treated to rosemary vanilla bavarois and a decent house-made ‘candy bar’ enrobed in chocolate. Indecisive when it comes to dessert? Opt for the sweet treats and you’ll be served an irresistible selection of petite cakes and confectionary.
Wash down with a glass (or two) of The Hunting Lodge’s very own wines—we love their Albariño. The best part? If you’re in a group, you can book a courtesy shuttle back to Central Auckland. It’s the perfect excuse for a long, wine-filled lunch!
One thing’s for certain: there’s a lot to love about The Hunting Lodge. It’s a stunning (and delicious) spot to while away the hours. Sound like a bit of you? Book your table here and we’ll meet you there!
Image credit: Lydia Arnold