Six weeks and two days later than scheduled a new restaurant has opened in Rotorua at the 5-star Regal Palms Resort. Called Matai, it is the latest culinary venture of acclaimed chef and business manager, Ryan Gregorash of Stolen Bike Catering.
The Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown scuttled the original April 6 opening yet interest remained high and more than 40 diners graced its tables on the new opening date, Monday May 18, despite a minimum of marketing to promote the new restaurant.
Since its inception Stolen Bike Catering has created a strong following in the Rotorua culinary and catering area and Ryan remains keen to position the restaurant among New Zealand’s top restaurants and provide another reason to visit Rotorua .
“Many of our clients have asked us when we planned to open a restaurant. Opening a restaurant has always been part of our long-term plan but finding the right location has taken quite some time and we were delighted to be approached by the Regal Palms.
“Matai itself is a vision that’s been a number of years in the making – we’ve been building menus, testing out ingredients and planning for a long time now. We believe that simplicity and an unfussiness in our food preparation is the only way to maintain freshness and to uphold the characteristics of each individual ingredient. At Matai we aim to create powerful tastes and appealing aromas that our diners will always remember,” says Ryan.
In spite of the current economic circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic Ryan has a vision for Rotorua – for the city to be recognised for its culinary excellence in the same way it is renowned for its tourism industries. The vision may be currently tweaked to cater for the domestic traveller, as New Zealanders adjust to supporting and spending at local initiatives, but it remains strong.
“Rotorua has been a must do destination for tourists for many, many years. Tourists have traditionally come for our cultural tourism, our spa treatments and more recently world-class mountain biking. Wouldn’t it be great if Rotorua could create a similar reputation for culinary excellence? At Matai we want to create a benchmark dining experience that builds on our city’s wonderful reputation for great hospitality.”
The opening night menu included:-
• Filled potato Latkes with sauté baby spinach complimented with grilled
cherry tomato on-the-vine served with watercress pesto & micro herbs. $18.50
• Sunchoke roasted with watercress and mustard seed complimented with
grilled lemon brioche and parmesan crisp. $20.50
• Crispy-skin pork belly with chilli and passionfruit glaze, pickled
cabbage and apple slaw. $22.50
• Grilled spiced butternut squash with roquette leaves served with
pickled baby beets, topped with crumbed goat cheese and roasted pine
• Crispy skin Snapper, citrus beurre blanc with glazed seasonal baby
vegetable, celeriac purée $47.00
• Duck galantine with roasted pistachio nuts and cognac soaked prunes
stuffing with fondant potato and spiced orange cabbage. $46.00
• Lamb backstrap with endive brioche-crusted with gruyère, dates purée
complimented with smoked aubergine caviar and poached pear. $45.50
• Truffle and Porcini Raviolini served with smoked mushroom consommé
with green herbs infused oil, porcini crostini. $42.50
• Hot chocolate fondant with lemon cured ice cream and manuka honey dust. $16.50
• Apple Tarte Tatin with calvados reduction and butterscotch sauce. $17.00
• Sous-vide rhubarb and vanilla custard crumble complimented with
crystallised ginger cake. 18.50
• Kumara beignet with chocolate and chestnut honey served with pistachio tuile. $18.50
Stolen Bike Catering is a high-end catering company based in Rotorua that serves the wider Bay of Plenty market. It specialises in bespoke menus, handmade in-season flavours and innovative culinary techniques. Ryan has over 25 years experience having run successful restaurants, cafes and bars in Rotorua and Tauranga. He has worked for a number of major global organisations in various culinary and hospitality roles and was recently nominated as Chairperson of Rotorua’s Hospitality Advisory Committee.
His awards include:
- Four New Zealand Beef & Lamb Awards
- New Zealand United Fish Award for creativbity with fish and seafood products
- Best Small Business Award at the 2018 Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards
- New Zealand’s first ambassador of #FairKitchens – a global movement which aims to create positive cultures within kitchens and the treatment of hospitality staff. (www.fairkitchens.com).
The Regal Palms Resort Hotel is located on Fenton Street Rotorua and has recently undergone a multi-million dollar refurbishment offering high quality accommodation, conference facilities and hospitality options.