Day’s cares past

The Press - Zest - - Review -

It has been a long long time be­tween vis­its but fi­nally I gave in to the siren song of the promised wel­come. It wasn’t so much the quirky mes­sage on the black­board as the stylish chairs in the cor­ner win­dow. Or maybe it was the out­door bar with its cor­po­rate suits man­ning up around the fire, though it was pos­si­bly it was be­cause it was there and so was I. Feel­ing a lit­tle weary and need­ing food and wine. Or wine, then food.

From its ex­te­rior Aik­mans seems to be mostly bar. But once inside the restau­rant un­folds into a large wide room with booths and ta­bles on dif­fer­ent lev­els. There is another bar but it keeps its dis­tance. It is busy but we are told when our reser­va­tion is checked that ‘‘this is noth­ing to what it was like ear­lier this year’’.

Seems things have qui­etened down in the sub­urbs since more bars and restau­rants have opened up in the cen­tral city.

The menu is small but well formed. There had been a sug­ges­tion on­line that pub meals were the go at Aik­mans but the dishes listed sug­gest more fi­nesse than food ‘‘to soak up the booze’’.

I like the look of the break­fast menu and if the ‘‘snacks’’ list is the afore­men­tioned pub meals, great.

The Amer­i­can com­pan­ion was hang­ing out for a steak, so with only one choice listed the decision was easy. An odd menu de­scrip­tion though; eye fil­let on the bone is not pos­si­ble. Queried, the wait per­son in­formed us the bone was added af­ter­wards. And ac­tu­ally it isn’t fil­let steak tonight. It’s sir­loin. On the bone.

As it turned out the steak came to the ta­ble sans bone but beau­ti­fully cooked so why con­fuse peo­ple with adding bones? The dish was a win­ner, with a square of potato dauphonais, a rich and de­li­cious jus, mush­rooms and asparagus.

The white­bait frit­ter is another suc­cess, but it is more of an omelette size which ex­plains the price, and I love the sides of white bread tri­an­gles. White­bait and white bread are grand com­pan­ions.

A Cae­sar salad was a new take on the clas­sic, in­cor­po­rat­ing smoked chicken and ba­con to the nicely runny egg and crispy cia­batta slices. No fishy an­chovies to be seen - or tasted in the dress­ing and far too much finely grated parme­san. But let me in­ter­rupt my­self here and do a bit of a rave about the ser­vice. Swift, sure (apart from the added-bone non­sense) and pleas­ant.

The sug­ges­tion that we might re­ally like tonight’s creme brulee was adopted and sure enough - it de­served a top mark. Creamy with a sub­tle orange flavour, a very good, very cor­rect top­ping , a choco­late bis­cotti and a serv­ing large enough for two (prob­a­bly not in­tended) sent us on our way well fed with weari­ness dis­pelled and the cares of the day for­got­ten.

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