It is always a good sign when you sit down at a restaurant and you can overhear other diners discussing how delicious their meals are. My husband and I were ravenous by the time we were seated at Cromwell’s new restaurant No. 7 in the Mall and my tummy rumbled as I scanned the varied and delicious-sounding choices. I chose the asparagus and ricotta tart – char-grilled asparagus, ricotta, semi-dried tomatoes and sicilian green olives in a puff pastry case. ($14.50). My starter was colourful, tasty and fresh. The asparagus was cooked perfectly with a nice crunch and it was washed down nicely with a glass of pinot gris. My husband chose the Thai beef salad which consisted of porterhouse steak marinated with Thai spices, pan-fired, served with spicy peanuts, cucumber ribbons and salad greens with a sesame dressing ($14). It was colourful, spicy and generous and he was delighted to find he did not have to hunt through the greens to find the steak. If we thought the starters were generous, our eyes nearly popped out of our heads when our mains were placed in front of us. I had the Canterbury rack of lamb served on a white bean puree with amint, olive and almond salsa, topped with crispy potato sticks ($32). The lamb was cooked to perfection and the robust flavours from the puree and salsa complemented the lamb perfectly. My husband’s favourite meat is pork, so it came as no surprise he ordered the twice-cooked pork belly ($26) which was slowcooked with crispy skin served with creamy mash, caramelised apple and salsa verde. Dessert was not necessary because we were so full but we could not resist the temptation of the homemade dark chocolate and grand mariner mousse served with vanilla bean ice cream and fresh strawberries ($11.50) and the raspberry panacotta served with chocolate and No. 7’s service was put to the test before we even got to the restaurant. I had booked us in for dinner at 7pm but my husband had to work late so I rang and asked if I could make it 7.30pm. ‘‘Not a problem,’’ the lovely lady over the phone said. Tick for customer service. Tick two came when we entered the restaurant and were greeted by two smiling faces. The waitresses were welcoming, polite and extremely attentive. It would have been nice to have a bottle of water left on the table.
The atmosphere was bright and breezy like the waitresses. Clean, crisp tablecloths, bright, bold colours (predominantly lime green and white). The evening was balmy the night we dined and the windows which looked out to the leafy mall were open. The vibe inside the restaurant seemed infectious. I saw an older couple have a chat to an Asian couple about their travels and the waitresses easily chatted to customers. Even the chef spoke to a few customers as he leaned over the open counter. I like being able to see chefs in the kitchen working away and glance my eye over to make sure it is clean and professional. I would like to see a bit of art on the walls. The place was nice and bright but a little bit bare. The toilet area was small, a bit dated but functional and most importantly sparkling clean.
I would not hesitate recommending this restaurant. Not only does it tick all the boxes when it comes to food and hospitality, it has the bonus of a pizza takeaway service which I am sure will be extremely popular. The meals were generous and had great flavours. Our bill was less than $160 and that included several drinks.
Mainland meat: Canterbury rack of lamb.