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My father made it known to me growing up, enjoy your dinner experiences. They are some of the most memorable you can have in everyday life. And sometimes, certain restaurants fit that description perfectly.
Every now and then, we find ourselves stumbling upon something that transcends our travels. Something that gives us all of the comforts we’re looking for, while also having that unique brand new feel to it. Similarly to Milford Sound, these are the kind of places we want the world to know about. In many ways, it is why we travel. That is what we found while rummaging through one of our New Zealand travel books and came across the review. Fleurs Place, a restaurant featuring local New Zealand Seafood on the coast of Moeraki in the South Island.
Ok, how the heck can a restaurant have such a huge impact on us? This was not simply about food–and do not worry, you will be getting more details on that shortly–it was about a restaurant that was so perfectly there when we needed it. After traveling around in a campervan for over a week, we needed some comfort to make us feel like home. This restaurant was able to do that and so much more.
So after we found it, we did a quick google and saw “bookings recommended”. Nervously, we made the call and were able to get squeezed in at a 6:30 reservation time. We’re in!
And as most people do, we immediately looked up a menu on google–what would we do without google honestly? We saw that the menu was all seasonal, so we could not pick and choose in our own minds what we would want to eat that night. A novel concept, but we had to be left in suspense until we got to the restaurant.
Walking in right at 6:30–like I said, we were excited–we were immediately taken aback by the decor. Testimonials dated and written on the walls in black sharpies, classic floral English teacups stacked on the bar, and gin cocktails all over the special boards. It was one of the most unique restaurants we have ever walked into, but it also may have been the most comfortable one. In so many ways, simply walking into Fleurs Place just felt like home.
Onto the food and drink. Since we were unable to look ahead with the seasonal menu, we did not know what to expect except that there would be fresh fish. A simple menu, with their staples–seafood chowder, a seafood pot, green lipped mussels, fish and chips–all sounded fantastic. We knew we were in for a treat when we saw the specials–found on a handwritten green piece of paper–with six different local fishes to choose from. And the coup de grace of it all? There was a special that allowed for two people to get a tasting of five filets of these local fishes, with a side of vegetable and potatoes. Entree choice had been made.
Even with this bounty of an entree, us being us, we still had to get an appetizer. We settled on the seafood pot–typically served as an entree but we did a little negotiating to make it work. As most everything at Fleurs, this dish featured all local ingredients and seafood. It was so simple yet so delicious. Green lipped mussels, littleneck clams, scallops, cockles, all still in their shells, spinach, and potatoes served in a white wine broth. Our only regret about this dish is that we did not have an entire loaf of bread with it to soak up all of the incredible flavors of the sauce.
For our entree, we were fortunate to be served, blue cod, elephant fish, gurner, monkfish, and orange roughy. All five fish were cooked in the typical Fleurs fashion, simple and pan-fried, just the way we like it. We had faith, we knew with the fish being caught in the sea just outside the window that morning they would all be good, but we just did not realize how good.This was New Zealand seafood. Unique flakiness, textures, and overall flavor left us completely satisfied in every single way. Without a doubt, this was the best fish either of us have ever had in our lives.
Knowing we were sticking with fish, we knew we’d be getting a white wine to go with our meal. We stuck to local here, went with a Pinot Gris from Central Otago, a 2016 Peregrine White Whine. A crisp yet flavorful wine that went incredible well with our dinner. It was so tasty that we debated getting another bottle before ultimately deciding that was just too much for us.
Having Fleur herself, sitting there greeting the customers, and letting her presence be known as the epitome of this restaurant. World class food that would rival some of New York City’s best. At the same time, it felt like you were at grandma’s house and she had just made you a special Sunday dinner. Fleurs Place, don’t ever change, you are a gem, somewhere that people should travel out of their way for. One of the many amazing things to do on the always stunning South Island. We will never forget you!