Fleur's Place: an ode to tranquillity

In the small village of Moeraki, in New Zealand, there’s a restaurant full of charm

01-05-2014
In order to reach it, you need to follow picturesq

In order to reach it, you need to follow picturesque small roads that are perhaps a little winding: upon arriving, however, one is repaid by the discreet beauty of the bay of Moeraki. Here, there’s Fleur's Place (+64.3.4394480), run by New Zealander chef Fleur Sullivan, who with her local fish based dishes has conquered even English chef Rick Stein (Photo credits christchurchdailyphoto.com)

Small, charming restaurants, perhaps overlooking a small port, have always been very fascinating: perhaps it is because of the beach, perhaps it’s the air, that underlines the marks on the skin or it’s the idea of an adventure full of bequeathed stories, partly true and partly fictional. Fleur’s Place looks like the place someone would make up as the background for the adventurous protagonists of a modern story set in a seaside town that was once rather rich and now seems to be dozing, hidden in a small bay.

Wood, wood and more wood: the warmth of this little restaurant also derives from the materials with which it is built

Wood, wood and more wood: the warmth of this little restaurant also derives from the materials with which it is built

Fleur Sullivan is the perfect person for such a picture: she used to have a restaurant in Central Otago, a place in the middle of the countryside; then, when she closed the restaurant, she moved on the coast, to Moeraki. Which is truly a tiny village, with a few holiday homes, a few camping sites plus the boulders, huge semi-spherical rocks that are scattered around the main beach and attract tourists, though no one knows their exact origin.

Fleur
was already quite famous and her fame followed her here: a simple yet neat cuisine, looking for convincing products first of all near the restaurant, and a strong desire to chat and create a place that resembles her love for observation. When she opened, in 2002, some people wondered how she would have managed to move from a touristic place to one that is more secluded but it seems that nice things do not take long to be discovered, so word spread, making the restaurant also an excellent meeting point for the people of Moeraki and the surroundings.

On sunny days, Fleur's Place’s terrace becomes a precious space

On sunny days, Fleur's Place’s terrace becomes a precious space

British celebrity chef Rick Stein made Fleur’s known outside New Zealand’s borders when he recommended it as one of the places not to be missed, as proudly stated on the restaurant’s website. Getting here is not hard but contributes to the expectations and the atmosphere, with the narrow roads rapidly going up and down: drivers will have great fun. Wherever you turn, there’s wood, which was probably already here a long time before Fleur would open this sort of tavern on two floors with a summer terrace; the central counter in the main room hides the tiny kitchen from which you can hear the voices of the cooks speaking and setting their time.

At Fleur’s you can expect a cuisine in which fish and other ingredients are those from this side of the world, a cuisine that starts from some French fundamentals and readapts them to the catch of the day (with reference to cooking procedures and sauces to begin with), and in which there are always soups and they are always light; among the classics, there’s the Kaimoana Platter, a selection of home-smoked fish, and a small dessert list that ends, in a very simple way, the meal. The wine list is less bulky than the cookbook published by Fleur’s and in which lots of her life and her stories are also included, but it is sufficiently varied to be suitable for the restaurant’s offer. Fleur’s remains in your heart.


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