18 April 2011

The Larder, Miramar

Oh my god, Miramar. Since getting a car last year I've been slowly exploring the suburbs for new favourite cafes and food spots. Slowly, because most weekends I can't get past the urge to hop in the car, drive through the tunnel and past Evans Bay, out to Miramar. Between Cafe Polo and the Chocolate Frog and Marie and Nico's Patisserie and a couple of new places I'm very, very excited about* there's heaps to choose from in Miramar but just as often as not I find myself headed to The Larder. The following is a cobbled-together collection of some of my favourites from at least 3 recent visits. 

Usually on the weekends I'm after a cooked brunch but sometimes, when I'm really hungry, I'll get a little something from the gorgeously-stocked cabinet to nibble on before everything else arrives (at which point I usually groan that I've ordered way too much food, but hey). The date & cardamom scone ($3.50) is hard to pass up: it's got that perfect-scone lightness, sweet chunks of date, a hint of cardamom to make it stand out from the standard cafe date scone. So good warmed with a little butter.

On another super-hungry Sunday morning I got this fig & star anise scone ($3.50). Again, a delicious way to curb the hunger pangs while sipping a coffee and reading the paper while waiting for the rest of the food to arrive. Out of these scones, though, I preferred the first: this one was a bit dryer in texture and I wished there had been a bit more star anise flavour.

Invariably, whenever I go to the Larder it's almost impossible for me to not order what has become a firm contender for my Favourite Breakfast in Wellington: these scrambled eggs with hot smoked salmon and rocket on toasted sourdough ($17). I had them on my first visit here and have had them so many times since. The eggs are dreamy and soft, the toast chewy and well-buttered, the rocket wilted just so, but the best, best part of all is the salmon: substantially smoky and savoury, I think it's fair to say it's the most delicious hot smoked salmon I've had.

On one rare occasion where I actually managed to order something else, I had these portobello mushrooms on toast with aged balsamic and parmesan ($12). Too often we think brunch = eggs but these mushrooms needed no accompaniment besides the shaved parmesan on top. I can only say good things about this dish and if it weren't for the scrambled eggs and hot smoked salmon I'd be getting this more often.

I'm a firm believer that it's never too early for steak. E's sirloin steak with lemon and caper butter, onion rings and hand cut chips ($22) came out a glorious slab of meat, cooked medium rare (as requested), dripping with the tangy, salty lemon caper butter. I couldn't stop stealing bites. The onion rings, though unassuming in appearance, were deliciously soft and crispy at the same time (and how often do you see red onion rings?).

And those chips ($6, with aioli, if you order them separately): I swear each one contains a whole, perfectly cooked potato. Okay, maybe a rather small potato, but these are substantial chips, crispy on the outside and almost-fluffy on the inside. On occasion I've had a slightly undercooked chip or two but for the most part these are thick and heavenly.

One of the best things about this place is the menu changes according to what's seasonal and available, so although there's a core of staple offerings (the salmon and eggs being one for which I'm so grateful) it's always a bit of fun seeing what else is on offer. On our most recent visit E had this pappardelle with lamb meatballs and roasted tomato sauce ($17): perfect comfort food for the cooler months. I thought the pasta could have been cooked in saltier water, but that could have just been me, and anyway, the meatballs were so plump and tender, the roasted tomato sauce hearty, with flecks of mint adding a different but altogether complementary dimension. 

If you're like me and find it hard to pass up dessert when you're full (even after breakfast) you'll be glad these tiny brulee tarts exist. They're exquisite, and at only $2 or so, it's totally okay to pick up a couple for the ride home.

So there you have it, one of my favourite suburban spots. Actually, one of my favourite spots in general: relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, quality ingredients, an emphasis on local and seasonal produce, good coffee (they use Supreme), and perhaps due to its somewhat out-of-the-way location, never feels crazy-busy or rushed. If I lived in Miramar, I'd be there almost every day (well, I'd have to do a rotation among the other eateries mentioned at the start of this post).

The Larder
Cnr Darlington and Camperdown Rds
(04) 891 0354

Open Tues-Sun, dinner Thu-Sat.

*So very excited. Expect more soon :)