Bannockburn Hospitality
Anne from Christchurch, Tracey from Auckland and Susan from Christchurch enjoying the fine wares of Desert Heart served by the lovely Lou. Photo Supplied

In the third of a series of Eat Local, we aim to support our hospitality industry as they face challenging times

If your FOMO is rampant, and you are longing for a catch-up with friends, we recommend that you investigate the many hospitality options in Bannockburn.

For Ladies Who Lunch and/or their male counterparts, there is little to equal the views from Mt Difficulty, Desert Heart  and Carrick Winery and Restaurant on a fine Autumn day. 

For the champion of platters, the Desert Heart is unmatched. 

The cuisine is a mix of old favourites with exciting flavours and ideas from all over the world, combined with Central’s amazing fresh produce.

The result is a creation of unique new food – fresh and full of flavour.

Co-owner, Jane Gill, says, “There’s no pretence at Desert Heart; just good fun, generosity and down-to-earth hospitality.

We are keeping it real, with an aim to make people happy.”

For one of the best night-time dining experiences, The Black Rabbit on Bannockburn Road in the village is an excellent choice.

“We have some signature dishes like our Crispy Porchetta and our White Chocolate and Hokey Pokey Cheesecake, but we do try to change thing around so it keep it all interesting,” says head chef/owner Matt Crimp.

Their Half-price Pizza night on Sunday is a very popular choice for our orchard and wineries workers.

If you’d enjoy a wide choice of Central Otago wines, then catch up with friends for lunch or dinner on the front lawn of The Bannockburn Hotel. Their speciality is their tapas and sharing plates.

A new experience this summer has been the Pizza and Wine Trailer in the grounds of Carrick Winery and Restaurant.

The pizza is simple, thin-crusted, fresh and delicious and the casual atmosphere as you watch the sunlight playing on the Carrick Hills is a fantastic boost for your well-being.  Try it!

All of these Bannockburn venues offer outdoor spaces, which makes managing under Covid less difficult.

“We are predominantly an outdoor setting,” says Jane Gill, adding, “We tell customers that the breeze we get is all about Covid prevention!”

In general, the biggest challenge has been staffing under Covid, and the biggest boost has been the continued loyalty of regular customers.

Your hospitality urge may be for a simple wander around the wine-tasting offerings – Bannockburn has this in spades, with close to 20 wineries to choose from.

Some are open by appointment only; some have regular hours. Some offer a tour of the vineyard; most practice biodynamic viticulture.

You are best to check availability, especially as Harvest approaches.