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home > dining > new zealand > arrowtown

Saffron is a restaurant that greatly impressed us on our previous visit. It doesn’t disappoint this time, and in fact surpasses its previous performance…not just via its food, but by providing a better table and service (the last time, they’d “lost” our reservation despite a same-day confirmation and the eventual discovery of our name incoherently scribbled on the reservation sheet). Theresa revisits what she considers to be the ultimate expression of shrimp, a plate of deep-sea Stewart Island scampi much more akin to the most delicate Maine lobster (and, thanks to its sun-filtered life, a pale white crustacean from flesh to carapace) than to any similarly-constructed sea-creature, while I devour an expensive but wonderful small plate of crispy West Coast whitebait. I follow this with a flawless venison loin accompanied by Christmas-y nutmeg spaetzle and tiny dots of an incredibly intense mustard. But it’s Theresa’s main course that forms the culinary pinnacle of our evening: a trio of Thai-influenced curries – prawn , chicken, and duck, each with its own distinct preparation – served with a well-considered trio of rices (basmati, wild, and black “forbidden”). Each bite is an explosion of beautiful and unique flavor, and there’s little surprise that this dish is considered the signature offering of the restaurant.

The wine list is extensive, with a supplemental reserve list dipping back into New Zealand's viticultural history (at, given the rarity and age involved, what must be considered reasonable prices).

Dessert presents far too many enticing choices (Theresa is unwilling to suppress the lingering flavors of her curries and demurs), but I finally choose an exotic Asian-influenced notion: fried marmalade ice cream, utterly delicious in its mélange of flavors and temperatures. (2/05)

   

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