MARTIN BOSLEY CONTINUES OUR SERIES WITH HIS FAVOURITE DISH FROM ANOTHER NOTABLE NEW ZEALAND RESTAURANT.
Martin Bosley showcases a classic dish from one of New Zealand’s venerable restaurants
WHAT MAKES A RESTAURANT become an institution? It’s a mix of hospitality, a strong, well-priced wine list and comforting, well-executed food. Wellington’s Capitol restaurant has this in spades. The small space is flooded with natural light, a banquette runs along the back wall and there are a few stools at the bar on which you can perch. The floor staff warmly interact with diners, while co-owner Kate Hutchinson works the tables in a quiet, solicitous manner, never upselling but always making suggestions, happy to see her dining room full while husband Tom rules the minuscule mezzanine kitchen with energy and enthusiasm.
I find myself eating here time and time again, and for one dish only: I’m almost evangelical about it. I drag people in with me, forcing them to eat the parmesan-crumbed lamb’s liver with Gorgonzola-dressed baby spinach; it’s been on the menu since Capitol first opened 15 years ago. Tom changes his menus seasonally, but this dish, along with fried squid with aioli and rocket, and the softcentred chocolate pudding with creme fraiche remain – timeless creations that are simply too good to come off.
Back to that liver. It may be challenging for some – the edible equivalent of, say, Silence of the Lambs – but trust me on this, it’s an utter joy to eat. The golden, crunchy parmesan shell reveals the soft, perfectly cooked liver, sweet and earthy tasting. It’s served on a heavenly mound of warmed baby spinach with slivers of raw onion sliced so thin you barely notice their presence, and nuggets of molten Gorgonzola. To round it out, a puddle of deeply flavoured veal jus you could just about varnish yourself in.
Tom sees the dish actually being more about the spinach and Gorgonzola, with the liver providing some relief from the intensity of the flavours. He likes the idea of having some ‘down time’ in your meal, the relief giving you a reason to go back to the plate. I’ve never stopped to think about that, I just eat it, usually teamed with a glass of Chianti.
I find myself eating here time and time again, and for one dish only; it’s been on the menu since Capitol first opened 15 years ago. Tom changes his menus seasonally, but this dish is simply too good to come off.
Capitol chef Tom Hutchinson teaches his children, Toby and Lili, how to make pasta