[Photographs: David Straight]
Driving down Scenic Drive in full spring sunshine is reminiscent of being in California’s Big Sur, cruising down Highway 1 through the redwoods. The sun flickers through the trees, and it feels good. Halfway down this picturesque stretch is The Refreshment Room. Set in the old Montana Estate headquarters, just past Titirangi, it’s run by ex-Delicious chefs John Pountney and Mark Harris. An impressive whakapapa.
There is a generous deck, and a woodsy, plywood-lined interior with big glass windows and doors. We shared chickpea chips served with tomato relish ($10) – think polenta chips, but nuttier, speckled with mozzarella. We ate a bruschetta laden with mozzarella, broad beans and mint ($12). Then, slow cooked pork with rocket on cloudy pillows of potato gnocchi ($18/$26) and an unctuous, savoury lamb shoulder with tomato, pancetta, porcini and potato gratin ($29). There was risotto and ravioli served glistening with sage butter. Dessert was a slice of dark chocolate cake, fudgey and flourless, with a dollop of mascarpone icecream (again, made on site).
It’s simple food, with a nod to Italian tradition. Best of all, the menu changes daily – you’ll find it on their Facebook page. It often uses produce from the restaurant’s garden and they make their bread and pasta in house. If we lived closer, we’d eat here on a weekly basis. For now, we’ll call in every time we head out west — and with summer well on its way that will be often. NS
HOURS Wednesday – dinner from 5pm; Thursday & Friday – lunch & dinner from 12pm; Saturday and Sunday – all day from 9.30am.
ADDRESS 233 Scenic Drive, Titirangi, ph 817-8655. therefreshmentroom.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS Makes a perfect stopoff between the city and Piha – perfect for a lazy weekend long lunch, particularly if you’re entertaining out of town friends.