All Fired Up

Solera wine bar and restaurant has opened with an out-of-the-ordinary drinks list and an intriguing menu that takes advantage of its open wood-fired oven.

Solera brings a fresh new approach to central Mount Maunganui with its dedication to all New Zealand wine — many of them rare finds you won’t see elsewhere, paired with a menu that brims with exciting ingredients and bold flavours.

Sit at the chefs’ pass for a front-row view of the kitchen action, or get comfy on the green button-backed banquette that runs the length of the room, and kick your evening off the right way with oysters or perhaps a crayfish donut-brioche with wasabi and pickled beets. Other tempting small plates include a tartare of dry-aged eye fillet with spicy miso and beetroot, topped with a crispy egg yolk; and a salt-roasted purple kūmara with black sesame, chilli nuts and pickled shallot.

The woodfired oven is the beating heart of the kitchen and it turns out brilliant dishes such as the porchetta, which cooks for four hours to achieve first-rate crackling. The unctuous roasted pork belly is then served with parsley, lemon and sherry jus. Other hero dishes from the oven include dry-age steak, whole gurnard and duck, plus a roast cauli that takes the humble cauliflower cheese to the next level (see our recipe section for a homecook’s version).

Great producers and growers are behind any top restaurant and Solera works closely with key locals such as Abundant Backyard and Mount Eliza Cheese. Championing small New Zealand winemakers is also a key part of Solera. You won’t find the usual suspects on this drinks list — with a skew towards lesser-known varieties (think chenin blanc, marsanne and Montepulciano) from smaller wineries. A recent addition for the cooler months is the Poverty Bay Wine Le Pont Cabernet Franc — the berry flavours and smokiness on the nose make it a great match with the Wagyu bavette cooked over the fire.

Consistency is the holy grail for restaurants and something owners Nick Potts and wife Chloe Ashman are focused on. To that end, every night Solera is open, Nick will be on the floor keeping things running smoothly, while talented head chef Neil Sapitula will be on the pans.

Solera is the perfect spot for drinks and snacks early evening, a full dinner experience or late drinks as it’s open til midnight.

165 Maunganui Rd, Mt Maunganui

First published in issue 34 (June/July 2021) of Our Place Magazine. Check out this Roasted Cauliflower with Camembert Mornay by Solera.