Taste Selwyn: three of the best lunches and dinners

Monday, 13 May 2024

Taste Selwyn: three of the best lunches and dinners

One of the biggest challenges of Taste Selwyn is trying everything there is to offer! With brunches, lunches, dinners, and every kind of dish in-between, you’ve got a busy May ahead of you.

So we decided to make a whole Saturday of it, road tripping between Tai Tapu, Lincoln, and Kirwee, sharing three different  dishes along the way. With the friendly welcomes from the teams at each restaurant, and the sustenance each meal offered, our day was a success.

Of course, you don’t have to do it this way – you can spread things out right across the month – but our adventure really showed just what you can experience on a trip through Selwyn.


Tai Tapu Hotel


Steamed fish, potatoes, olive oil and white wine sauce, cherry tomatoes, green salad, microgreens - read more

Stepping into Tai Tapu Hotel’s dining room on a Saturday afternoon, it’s clear that this place is central to its local community. One long table accommodates a party of retirees; another, outdoors, a young child’s birthday; another still a group that sits somewhere in the middle of that age range. It’s all a beautiful blend of local flavour - just like its Taste Selwyn dish.

The Steamed Fish feels like a gift - quite literally, as it arrives wrapped in the paper in which it was cooked. Opening it reveals a soft, white fillet atop sliced potatoes, with lemon slices, cherry tomatoes, herbs, and chilli flakes supplying splashes of colour and flavour.

Home cooks might not have the confidence to deliver something to the table they haven’t had a chance to inspect in full, but it’s testament to the kitchen’s skill that all the contents arrive just as they should. The fish is moist, tender, and flaky; the potatoes soft and satisfying. Steamed fish risks being bland, but here it’s elevated by a delicious olive oil and white wine sauce, brought to you by the combined wares of South Lea Olive Oil and Melton Estate. The chilli flakes and juicy cherry tomatoes ensure it really pops.

On the other side of your plate, you’ll find a fresh green salad of lettuce, red onion, and carrot, topped with local Tai Tapu microgreens courtesy of Brown Acres.

Sitting in a sun-filled window looking out on the hotel’s lawn and outdoor tables… well, it’s a wonderful way to spend a long lunch. And it feels just healthy enough to justify taking a look at the dessert menu. The Persian Ice Cream Sundae caught our eye.

While you’re there:

Stop by the nearby General Post or The Store @ Tai Tapu for local gifts and provisions. Or practice your swing at Tai Tapu Golf Club, voted New Zealand Golf’s favourite 9 hole course.


The Famous Grouse, Lincoln

Turkish baked eggs with cumin flatbread and yoghurt

Baked eggs in a tomato and pepper sauce, herb yoghurt, venison, cumin flatbread. (Available 12 noon until 5pm) Read more

The Famous Grouse offers up everything a good main street pub and restaurant should: a warm and welcoming atmosphere, good drinks, and superb food. They know their guests, and they know how to deliver the right experience for them.

That’s reflected in their Taste Selwyn special, a perfect dish for late autumn. It’s hearty and warming, with a rich blend of spice and zesty tomato cutting through any hint of wintry gloom. But there’s plenty to remind you of summer too. The lightness of the sheep milk yoghurt (supplied by Selwyn’s own Jones Family Farm) brings a little Mediterranean flair, and the beautiful touch of char on the pillowy-soft flatbread might just transport you back to those long summer barbeque afternoons. Plus the beautiful golden yolks of Nutritional Farm’s fresh eggs are like wee bursts of sunshine on your plate.

And we haven’t even gotten to the venison yet. It’s one thing to cook good venison, but it’s another to have it hit the right notes as a complement or component. Here it’s got just the right texture and firmness to work alongside the eggs and tomato. Credit to both the chef and the supplier, Tai Tapu’s Merchant of Venison.

Shout-out too to the great coffee, delivered with a mini chocolate fish on the side. It’s an underrated and much-appreciated move.

While you’re there:

Take a look through Down by the Liffey Gallery, Lincoln’s community art gallery. Or catch a movie at The Apollo cinema, housed in The Laboratory.


Thirsty Acres, Kirwee

‘Go Out on a Lamb’

Braised lamb shoulder roulade and seared lamb loin, roast Agria potatoes, melt of smoked garlic and sheep’s milk gouda, seasonal roast vegetables - read more


Let’s not waste your time. It’s no exaggeration to say that this may be the best lamb dish you eat this year. But we’ll go even further: it’s not even an exaggeration to say this may be the best lamb dish you’ve ever eaten. It was certainly right up there for us.

Yes, every component of this is usually a winner on any menu. Succulent lamb, golden potato, gleaming roast carrot. But somehow, each does something that goes well above and beyond the normal high standard.

The star of the show is the Lumina lamb from Quartz Hill Station, near Windwhistle. With a careful mix of genetics, care, diet, and butchery, Lumina is said to be the world's best lamb. We're willing to believe that claim. It's found on menus right across the planet, and we feel pretty lucky to enjoy it fresh and local. Thirsty Acres owner Jono Alve tells us this was the starting point for the dish, and it’s obvious this was a good call.

Now, they could have served this up just one way, and we would have felt more than satisfied. But true to its name, they really went out on a lamb, with both seared lamb loin and a gorgeous braised lamb shoulder roulade. Both preparations do excellent justice to Quartz Hill’s work; in particular, the perfect pink flesh of the loin, and the delicious crisp on the roulade.

But let’s not sell the other parts of the dish short. You might think the classic roast potato can’t get much better than it already is, but Thirsty Acres managed it with a mix of smoked garlic and melted sheep’s milk gouda from Jones Family Farm. The roast carrot was everything it should be and more.

You can pair the dish with a local Melton Estate syrah, and although it’s not necessary, it’s certainly an excellent match. Treat yourself, while enjoying the friendly, welcoming service, and the great views across the nearby fields. We can’t recommend it enough!

While you’re there:

Wander the Kirwee Walk, or head to The Willows for a cycle or walk.


Remember to check out our main Taste Selwyn page for more participating eateries in Selwyn.

Feel free to tag us #selwynnz and #tasteselwyn to share your dining experience!

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