01 September 2010
So I'm waaaaay behind my game, and if you follow other Wellington food blogs you might have already read these other accounts of our lovely little lunch at Pravda. But I thought I'd add my little two cents on their Wellington on a Plate $35 set lunch which Mel, Laura, Rosa and I sampled...
The set lunch consisted of two courses plus a glass of Wairarapa wine and tea or coffee. Wanting to challenge my sweet tooth (which last time saw me lingering over dessert after everyone else had to leave) a bit, I ordered the entree: smoked fish and potato chowder with saffron aioli and toasted ciabatta. Amusingly enough, everyone else went for the choice of main and dessert, and for a split second I wondered if I'd be eating soup alone while everyone else patiently looked on. That turned out not to be the case: our waitress asked whether I'd like my soup at the same time as everyone's mains, and my main at dessert, thus avoiding any awkward overlap of courses and also helping with the whole getting-back-to-work-on-time thing.
The soup was quite filling and I could have easily had it as the only course: big, chunky pieces of fish and mussels in a flavourful broth garnished with plenty of bright green herbs, the accompanying toasted ciabatta crunchy and chewy and altogether delicious smeared with the saffron aioli. I couldn't quite get my head around the saffron aioli - and I mean that in a good way - it had this intriguing sweetness reminiscent of honey and with the toast and the savoury soup was incredibly satisfying. This was a big bowl for an entree, too. I was kind of glad the chowder wasn't of the super thick, creamy variety I'm used to; the soup was just a little thicker than your average brothy liquid.
The main was a venison and wild mushroom ragout with papardelle pasta and parmigiano reggiano cheese. I had already gotten a preview of this dish as everyone else had it as the first course, and was dying to dig in. Soft yet al dente ribbons of pasta were topped with the melt-in-your-mouth ragout; the combination of venison and mushrooms was meaty and wintry and altogether hearty, making me almost forget that in just a few short (but lengthening!) days we'd be moving into spring.
Laura graciously offered her chocolate fondant with mandarin cream for me to photograph and taste (thanks!!). How could I decline? My sweet tooth never fails to get the better of me. And for good reason - the chocolate was oozy and melty and warm and super-indulgent (but when you're only having a bite, it doesn't count, right?). You can hardly ever go wrong with the combination of citrus and chocolate and the cool mandarin cream was no exception.
This was my first time dining at Pravda, and the setting is gorgeous - high ceilings, mirrored walls, beautiful chandeliers - but I did find it odd (or telling) that we were one of the few all-female tables in the dining room that day. Overall the vibe was that of a very male-dominated, besuited corporate-type clientele and I almost felt out of place. However, the food was delightful, the company charming as always and I'll probably go back if not just to try their gorgeous-looking baking I spied on the counter on my way out... damn my sweet tooth!
107 Customhouse Quay
(04) 801 8858