21 August 2010

Matterhorn - Wellington on a Plate Food Bloggers' Lunch

Last Saturday I had lunch at Matterhorn with a fantastic bunch of visiting (and not-so-visiting) food bloggers, hosted by the lovely ladies from Positively Wellington Tourism and Wellington on a Plate. It was the first day of Wellington's favourite new food festival and I arrived with my stomach empty and my heart full of anticipation. Not only was I excited to meet everyone, but I also had never had a full meal at Matterhorn before, though I've long been a fan of their drinks and bar snacks menu, the cool-yet-casual vibe, the airy courtyard and the live music that's often played on weekends. 

We were there for the $35 set lunch that Matterhorn is offering as part of Dine Wellington 2010 for Wellington on a Plate. The concept behind Dine is that each restaurant offers a set lunch (and/or, in many cases, dinner) where you choose two courses plus a glass of Wairarapa wine and tea or coffee. Very exciting stuff, and I perused the menu whilst waiting for everyone to arrive. Soon all nine of us had gathered, introductions were made, coffees arrived at the table and we fell into conversation, naturally, about food, photography and blogging.

While we chatted away, exchanging business cards and food-blogger stories, we nibbled on a few starters from Matterhorn's regular lunch menu. The white bean and lemon dip with crispy pitas and spring onion relish ($8) was a treat; I especially loved the crunchy, lightly seasoned pita chips.

I'm a lover of olives, so I was thrilled to see this olive selection with reggiano shortbread ($7). I loved the big, juicy green olives and the little, almond-sized ones (I only wish I knew what the different varieties were!), and I snuck a piece of the shortbread - it was light and buttery with a hint of sharp, salty reggiano cheese.

When the entrees arrived, the table became a flurry of photographic activity, everyone concentrating on getting the best shot. It was definitely a new and different experience for me not being the only one at the table surreptitiously fiddling with my camera and whipping it out whenever food arrives, but I'd like to think I learned a bit about food photography after watching these guys in action.*

I decided to choose a main and a dessert as my two courses, but I was lucky enough to get to try some of this carpaccio of yellow tail kingfish with rhubarb, grapefruit and ginger buckwheat. The fish was light and fresh-tasting with a hint of citrusy flavour.

As a main I had the crayfish basmati in risotto style with prawns, fennel and lemon.  The rich, savoury crayfish flavour permeated the rice; it would almost have been too rich for me had it not been balanced by the succulent prawns and the delicate shaved fennel, cool and crisp with a hint of aniseed flavour. On the whole, all the elements came together beautifully - this is definitely something I could eat again and again.

Most of our group chose the wagyu skirt steak with red wine onions, celeriac remoulade and parsley salad. Peter generously gave me a piece of his steak - it was tender and juicy, and the remoulade was cool, creamy and crunchy. 

Most of the others in our group left before dessert as they were scheduled to go to another Wellington on a Plate event, but a few of us stayed on as we still had two desserts coming. And I'm glad I did - this vanilla roast pineapple with coconut panna cotta, passion fruit sorbet & nut biscuit was by far my favourite part of the meal (I can't help it, I have such a sweet tooth!). The pineapple was mellow and syrupy, providing a sharp contrast to the tangy sorbet, the crisp, airy biscuit, and the smooth, delicate panna cotta. If I had to pick favourites I'd have to choose the panna cotta: the coconut added a subtly different dimension and I thought I detected a hint of something cardamom-y in there, though it could have just been my imagination. Superb. 

All up, it was a fantastic lunch and a wonderful start to Wellington on a Plate. The atmosphere was great, the food well-presented and the company was delightful. The wines included in the $35 set menu paired well with the meal; pictured above is the Ata Rangi Petrie Chardonnay 2008 and the other choice, the Ata Rangi Celebre 2007, seemed to have been enjoyed as well. 

I'll definitely return to Matterhorn soon, not just for my usual pursuit of awesome cocktails and bar snacks but also for their lunch and dinner menu - great for a special occasion! Hmm, I do have a few of those coming up... 

106 Cuba St (in between Rex Royale and the comic shop, down a long corridor)
(04) 384 3359

View Gusty Gourmet in a larger map

Millie dined as a guest of Positively Wellington Tourism and Wellington on a Plate. Thanks!!

*if you're not familiar with the following blogs, you should definitely check them out - they have stunning photography and never fail to make me hungry!
So D'Lish (Auckland)
He Needs Food (Sydney)
Hungry and Frozen (Wellington)


Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul said...

It was great meeting you and dining with you last Sat Millie. The Matterhorn had a delicious menu...thanks for the kind shout out!

Rosa said...

Wow, looks fabulous! We're going on Wednesday to have the degustation for dinner (we're out of town next weekend so it'll be our WOAP finale) - so now I have high hopes! :-)

hungryandfrozen said...

Such a good lunch! That sorbet was amazing.

The photo cracks me up, everyone's taking photos and I'm just like ooooh food.

Hope you had fun at the Bookfair - I'm loving my huge new stack of Cuisines.

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

It was so lovely to meet you at last. Lunch was great and dessert looks fantastic. Food blogger action shots always make me laugh. lol.

Andrea said...

It was so great meeting you Wellington gals! It was a great lunch, eh? I too am normally the only one whipping out my camera to photograph the food and it felt somehow warm and reassuring seeing all you other bloggers doing the same :)

Am bummed that I missed out on dessert, that's my favourite part of the meal too! Note to self, read the menu more carefully in the future :)

millie mirepoix said...

Peter- Thanks, it was lovely meeting you too... have been enjoying your Wellington posts :)

Rosa- Sounds like you're going out with a bang (for WOAP, anyway)... Can't wait to hear all about it!

Laura- yeah, book fair was great, I spent way too much time digging through old school fundraiser cookbooks & the pile of Cuisines but well worth it!

Helen- great to finally meet you & put a face to the name! Yes, the photo is quite funny - love it though, it was a fun lunch :)

Andrea- All those cameras definitely made me less shy getting out my own! If you're ever back down this way feel free to give me a yell :) we can get that dessert!

billy@atablefortwo said...

Was lovely to meet you. Billy meet Millie. HAHA!

Now I know what I am missing out on the dessert, and it sounds wonderful. Can't go wrong with a wobbly panna cotta. :)