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Thymes Tables has closed, but the same owners have opened the Island Thyme Eating House downstairs. We’ll get around to reviewing it shortly.

[Pictures: David Straight]

We’ll go out on a limb and say Thymes Tables is simply the best place for dinner on Waiheke. It’s not immediately obvious as this: it isn’t on a vineyard, and it doesn’t have a view. It’s on the second floor of a building in Surfdale – it’s part of Island Thyme, the very good cafe, which is downstairs. There are big wooden tables in the middle of the room and a few smaller ones around the outside; it used to be like eating in a mod Waiheke bach, until they spruced it up late last year with banquettes, fancy lighting, a moody paint job and some – much-needed – acoustic panels. The service is gracious and professional, which is a nice change for the island.

The best thing at Thymes Tables is that the menu changes every day, depending on what’s in season and what’s good – it’s limited to a starter, two mains and a couple of desserts. We like this, and it’s exactly what more restaurants in rural settings, with limited access to suppliers and uneven patronage, should do. It’s charming and it brings the cost down – something Waiheke restaurants struggle with. The winelist is short and the recommended pairings are excellent. The only bad thing? It’s noisy, and even the new panels haven’t totally obliterated the din when it’s busy.

Frankly, with food this good, we just don’t care. In winter, you might eat a slow-cooked pork shoulder with cavolo nero, or crispy-skinned tarakihi. It might be a slow-cooked lamb rack with salsa verde, cavolo nero and a potato and kumara gratin. Not so long ago, on a muggy summer evening, we started with a light, luscious salad of seared tuna ($16) and then ate crispy-skinned John Dory ($32) or veal ($32) with Jersey Benney potatoes and crunchy green beans – perfect summer food. We finished with cheese, on local lavash. It was, to a morsel, perfect. SFG

ADDRESS 8 Miami Ave, Surfdale, Waiheke Island

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