It appears the hottest place to be and be seen in Martinborough is Micro Bar. It’s a place that truly lives up to its name, as it occupies a small space that is part of the wine centre complex on the corner of Kitchener and Ohio Streets. The address 14c Ohio Street is a true reflection of its compact size. But within its tiny premises are a super wine and drinks list, and funky menu of small plates that are packed full of surprising and pleasing flavours. Micro seats up to 40-45 people, but that’s inside, as well as outside bordering the street frontage and includes the little courtyard area within. It is invariably busy, if not packed with mainly locals, and many of them with some involvement with the wine industry. If you’re there, you can’t help be seen by passers-by, as it’s so open and visible, and a glance is all you’ll need to see most of the patrons.
Micro started up at the time of Toast Martinborough last year, and its reputation has grown quickly. There are three partners involved. David Beveridge is from a well-established local family and his partner Nathan Ferry, look after the front of house and kitchen respectively. And former Te Kairanga winemaker Wendy Potts, who after doing a vintage in Burgundy came back to the village she’s so happy to be part of. It is clearly evident that David and Nathan have had some serious hospitality experience. David connects personably with all the clients with his warm humour and repartee, and is totally unfazed, no matter how frantic it is. Nathan does an incredible job in the minuscule kitchen, turning out his selection of snacks, micro and small plates, sweet plates and platters, all designed for sharing. Among our selection were Caper crumbed calamari with tartare, Pork and prawn dim sims, Sesame fried chicken with wasabi mayo, Pork belly slow cooked with garlic and palm sugar and the most moist Black pudding I’ve tasted for a long time. The dishes are extremely good value ranging from $4.00 for snacks to $6.00 for the micro plates and $9.00 for the small plates.
Wendy is responsible for the drinks list. There are plenty of cocktails and beers, including some new wave micro-brewed (pun intended) craft beers, as well as non-alcoholics. But it’s the wine selection that is particularly well-presented. The feature is the startling selection of local district wines, all available by the glass as well as in ‘wine flights’. We chose bottles of Julicher ’99 Rows’ Pinot Noir 2010 and the Escarpment ‘Te Rehua’ Pinot Noir 2010, both showing very well. However, there’s excellent breath with other New Zealand wines, and an interesting mix of imported wines, no doubt designed to lure the wine-knowledgeable winemakers into partaking. The table next to us had on their table Gustav Lorentz Alsace Gewurztraminer and Torres ‘Celeste’ Ribera del Duero. We were tempted by the Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin 2009, but knew that would lead us into a long night. The sweet wines and fortifieds to finish were enticing also, and it took some real willpower not to go there.
David, Nathan and Wendy have certainly got the formula right for Martinborough, understanding that the erudite locals crave tasting good food and interesting wine. The small plates format is one that is increasingly popular throughout the country, and it has taken off here. The three partners are having a ball serving up their fare, and the locals as well as the visitors from out-of-town are equally enjoying it. As can be expected, Micro’s hours are appropriately tailored to the locals and visitors alike, open from 3.00 pm to late from Thursdays to Mondays.
Micro Wine Bar, 14c Ohio Street, Martinborough, Tel: 06 306-9716, www.microbar.co.nz