The taste of Austral spring

Enjoying some beautiful moments at Saffron in Arrowtown, a beautiful town at the end of the world

The entrance to Saffron, in Arrowtown, in Central

The entrance to Saffron, in Arrowtown, in Central Otago’s Strand. The restaurant, which seems to have come out of a 19th century postcard, has its strong point in desserts: goat cheese sorbet with dates soaked in amaretto, tel. +64.(0)3.4420131

Arrowtown is like a small, well-kept secret, hidden from the world, except that when you get there you discover that it’s not a secret, though it is well-kept, and in fact you’re grateful even though you don’t have any exclusive on this small jewel. Arrowtown is a weekend destination but the village has not undergone the levelling lifting that affected Queenstown and Wanaka, about 10 km away, and it is the deviation you take because “it is worth the journey”.

In Buckingham Street, which more than a main street is Central Otago’s Strand, there’s Saffron, a restaurant perfectly placed in this urban scenery that appears to be taken out of a 19th century postcard. There are some restaurants from which you expect to be surprised, others from which you ask to be reassured: in the case of Saffron you ask to maintain, inside, the sensation you have outside, that of feeling as if you were in an antique jewel box – and your request is met.

Wood, high ceilings, fresh flowers in the various corners of the room and a small wine list that doesn’t want to be noticed, immediately give the idea of the character of this restaurant – to which you should add a summer courtyard if you want to dine outside, weather permitting. The food doesn’t include special effects, still it has a certain contemporary touch, keeping in mind the rhythm of the tourists who have the time to enjoy the open view kitchen, the Slow cooked lamb, served in a sort of cocotte, is in line with the bizarre timing of some weekends, as are the blue cod fillets, served with bonbons of scallop corals and a hazelnut dressing.

Lingering on the desserts has been the best choice after a glass of 2012 Chardonnay by Felton Road (by the way, it is agile and hardly marked by the wood, despite its young age): the Goat cheese sorbet with dates soaked in amaretto was the end to a relaxed lunch even though we then moved to our next destination, in our case the glaciers of South Island (Fox and Franz Joseph, for fanatics). Saffron also has two brothers, namely Blue Door and Pesto, respectively a cafe and an Italian-inspired restaurant; in the evening it becomes a little more glamourous but it keeps the same allure that characterises it in the daytime, with no change in quality.

18 Buckingham street
New Zealand
Average prices: entrée 20, main dishes 37 and desserts 16.50 New Zealand dollars


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