I first heard about Fleur’s Place at The Great Glenorchy Getaway event where Fleur herself was speaking. Fleur Sullivan is a well regarded Kiwi restaurateur and is really quite famous amongst foodies in New Zealand. Now coming up to what I presume is possible retirement age there’s certainly no sign of her stopping, with Fleur working at her restaurant, Fleur’s Place, each and every day.
Inspired by the passion Fleur has for food and in particular her drive of the Slow Food Movement, I just had to sample her cooking. Spending a fair bob on eating out isn’t much fun alone, although this is something I still enjoy, so I rounded up my two foodie friends in Lumsden. It’s about a four and a half hour journey from our home town of Lumsden to Moeraki where Fleur’s Place is located so Adele, Steph and I used this as an excuse for a weekend away. That weekend happened to be Steph’s birthday and mine a few days after which again, provided another excuse to go away and indulge.
After an enjoyable trip to Oamaru’s Farmer’s Market and a relaxing evening at Shag Point, we arrived at Fleur’s place around 2:30pm where we had a table booked. The place was busy even at this time of the afternoon and we took a seat at the bar. Situated on the waters edge next to a wee fishing harbour, Fleur’s Place is not surprisingly famous for its fresh fish and seafood. The daily catch was displayed on a chalk board in the middle of the restaurant and the menu had quite a selection of fresh fish and other items also. After previously hearing Fleur speak about her restaurant I knew that that the fish came off the boat every morning and the vegetables that accompany the fish are grown in her own garden. This I liked.
There was no hesitation about what to order on the menu, fish it just had to be. However due to the number of types of fish available I did have a tricky time deciding so I went for the trio of fish which essentially gave me a little bit of everything. A sweet white wine went perfectly well with my choice and I could have happily managed another if we hadn’t have a long drive ahead of us.
The food arrived in good time and well presented with colourful flowers on my plate and much to my liking. Portion size was good and I ended up taking half home with me for the following evening as I was careful to leave room for dessert. It was a shame that there was no way to tell which fillet of fish was which type as then I couldn’t decide on my favourite to have next time and it would have been nice if the waitress could have pointed this out.
Everyone raves about the fresh fish at Fleur’s, so regrettably I had high expectations. There was no denying that the fish was fresh but if I’m totally honest, it was a little over cooked. I like fish to fall away when I place my fork into it but this was tough and slightly chewy. When I cook fish at home it’s a lot more flavoursome and tender which left me slightly disappointed, especially when the dish cost as much as $44. The veggies were tasty but this time a little under-cooked for my liking, although this is personal preference as I know most people these days like a bit of crunch with their veggies whereas I was brought up on something resembling mash.
My scallops had little flavour and the aoli dressing nice but nothing to write home about. Steph’s Thai coconut on the other hand was to die for and if I were to return, which I probably would, I would order the Blue Cod (I’m yet to have a bad blue cod since being in Southland) and Thai sauce. I may sound overly disappointed with my chosen dish at Fleur’s but I want to clarify that it is probably down to the high reputation of the place and the even higher expectations which have led me to feel like this. Maybe that and the price of the meal which wasn’t overly cheap and the fact I have cooked better fish at home, although I’ve also cooked a lot worse too!
Now for dessert. It’s very rare that I get a chance to have dessert these days as I’m with people who aren’t dessert people like me or I’m always too full from demolishing my kiwi-sized portion. Luckily for me I have friends who like to share so we had a creme brûlée and the sticky date pudding between us. Both desserts were tasty and again, well presented.
I thought it was so nice that Fleur took the time and effort to make sure everyone in her place were OK and enjoying their meal. Fleur sat herself down at our table and talked to us about the menu and the event in Glenorchy where we first saw her before moving on to the next. All in all I had a lovely lunch at Fleur’s Place and it was only the over-cooking of the fish which meant it failed meet the high expectations I had arrived with. Would I return? Quite possibly but I wouldn’t make the four and a half hour trip just for the occasion. I admire the passion and enthusiasm Fleur has for quality food and service and if all restaurateurs took a leaf out of her book the world of food would be a better place.
Return? Quite possibly
Living life, loving Fleur’s passion for food!