We had dined at the Refreshment Room years ago and I recalled the duck, a velvety soup and some very good bread. On the basis of that fine bistro food memory, I booked a Labour Weekend table.
It's a long(ish) and winding road to the eatery with its beautiful Waitakere bush views. Inside, the tables were close together, but there was an immediate sense of warmth. Mismatched wooden chairs, late sun lazily slanting across a room decorated with fresh flowers - it was like being invited into someone's home.
It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it wasn't really stormy, but it was pretty dark, and the fog was getting thicker and thicker the higher we climbed up Scenic Drive.
I tried to explain to the Professor, who insists on driving, that you get better visibility in the fog with the headlights dipped; girls don't know stuff like that, which is why they haven't mastered spinning the steering wheel just before each point in a three-point turn.
Anyway, maybe six kilometres past the village, The Refreshment Room showed up in a blaze of light on the right. Even through the white bank of fog illuminated by the doggedly full-beam headlights, it was impossible to miss.
Bob Harvey, ex-mayor and ardent advocate for West Auckland, has always described the Waitakere Ranges as the jewel in Auckland's crown. I couldn't agree more. Yet few of the evening dining options "out that way" have ever shone brightly enough for me. Until now.
Four minutes' drive from Titirangi village, along Scenic Drive, a new establishment has opened its doors. Three supermen, Mark Hopkins, Marc Harris and John Poutney (ex-Delicious, from many moons ago) have opened The Refreshment Room in the old Montana winery site.
The location is stunning. Cradled in the lush green Waitakere Ranges, with a huge deck for outside dining, the elevation affords stunning views out across the Waitakere bush and towards the city.