Perfection comes at just the right price

By Linda Hall

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The room in Diva Bistro & Bar was softly lit, warm and cosy. Photo / File
The room in Diva Bistro & Bar was softly lit, warm and cosy. Photo / File

As part of Winter F.A.W.C! participating restaurants in Hawke's Bay are offering "FAWC! by 5" menu specials in multiples of $5, totalling no more than $50 per person until the end of June.

Last night I went along to Diva Bistro & Bar, Napier Road, Havelock North.

Diva's F.A.W.C! by 5 is a three-course dinner, starter, entree and main, for $40 per person.

We were shown to our table by Rob, who made sure we had some water and then went off to get us a glass of wine.

The room was softly lit, warm and cosy.

I was looking forward to the first course - Chargrilled Lamb Heart Slider with Salsa Verde.

Rob returned with our wine, which was Matariki 2010 No'ble. Smooth, soft and easy to drink.

Rob said the F.A.W.C! by 5 menu had been popular.

"Dining out is about the establishment telling you what's good and helping you make the right choice.

"With this menu you are getting value for money and trying something you perhaps would not usually select."

Our starter arrived and we tucked into a crunchy bun with slithers of lamb heart. I was expecting them to have a really strong taste, like lamb liver, but because they were so thin they were delicate and tasty. The herby salsa verde tasted fresh and had a slight kick to it.

Next came the entree - Prawn and Squid Meatballs on a Tomato and Herb Sauce. Wow - it looked stunning, served on spaghetti noodles with a cut lime on top. The meatballs were absolutely beautiful and the tomato and herb sauce was rich and tasted better than any home-made sauce I've ever tried.

The main was Roast Chicken Leg stuffed with Mascarpone, Rosemary, Garlic and Lemon with Pancetta Scalloped Potatoes and Winter Greens.

My eyes just about popped out of my head. The chicken leg was rather large and was set upon cabbage and kale and nestled around the pancetta scalloped potatoes. It was a visual feast.

The chicken had a thin, crunchy skin and the meat was so tender it fell from the bone. The cabbage and kale were divine, as were the cheesy potatoes.

Chef Kerry Mackay said his brief was to "do something he wouldn't normally do".

Hence the lamb hearts. "I trimmed the fat from them, opened them up, cleaned them up, chargrilled them and let them rest."

For the entree he decided to do a "twist on spaghetti and meatballs and give them an Asian flavour instead of Italian".

Because it was a three-course menu, Kerry thought it would be a good opportunity to cook a whole chicken leg. "They take at least 40 minutes to cook."

He chose cabbage and kale because "they are the new wonder foods".

"They are so full of vitamins and are robust, unlike spinach which tends to wilt away to nothing."

Kerry said the secret to cooking a tender chicken leg was to paint the skin with oil, put it in the oven and don't play with it. Leave it for at least 40 minutes. He felt the three-course meal was value for money and I wholeheartedly agree.

My favourite dish of the night was the prawn and squid meatballs.

There was not one thing I would have changed about this meal.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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