Foodie central with Jan Bilton
We’d planned a rail trail bike ride but — due to a munted knee — it became an indulgent restaurant journey by road. Central Otago’s culinary diversity is a major drawcard. Top-class eateries tucked away in the most improbable places attract not only outdoor adventurers but foodie vacationers who travel long distances just to enjoy award-winning chefs’ cooking.
In 1863, Olivers in Clyde was founded as a general store providing essential supplies to the hordes of gold-seeking prospectors. In 1980 it was transformed into a popular restaurant but when owner Fleur Sullivan left for coastal Otago, it faded.
Two years ago, new owners Andrea and David Ritchie, with much energy and enthusiasm, refurbished Olivers and transformed it into a casual café plus a fine restaurant.
The old homestead adjoining has also been beautifully renovated to accommodate house guests. Son-in-law James Waite is the executive chef and he uses his home-grown fruit and vegetables from his nearby farm. If you’re in the area, Olivers is an essential stop.
Central Otago’s eateries offer a huge smorgasbord of choices and others worth a visit include: Pitches in picturesque Ophir — also with accommodation; French food at Shaky Bridge Wines & Bistro in Alexandra under the clock on the rock; the wine flight and barrel-cooked wild meats at Wild Earth in the Kawarau Gorge; casual Italian at Armando’s Italian Café in the old Cromwell precinct; and the very slow-cooked lamb shoulder at the Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen.
Based on a recipe from Olivers’ exec chef, James Waite. Get the recipe
Central Otago apricots are the best and if you can’t enjoy them fresh from tree then there are plenty of dried apricots to purchase. Get the recipe
Based on Shaky Bridge Wines & Bistro’s Chevre Chaud. Get the recipe