SOUL KITCHENS

MARTIN BOSLEY CON­TIN­UES OUR SE­RIES WITH HIS FAVOURITE DISH FROM AN­OTHER NO­TABLE NEW ZEALAND RES­TAU­RANT.

Cuisine - - CONTENTS - Il­lus­tra­tion Kohl Tyler-dun­shea

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

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