16 August 2012

Capitol (DINE Wellington set lunch)

Just let me say this: try and get yourself down to Capitol sometime over the next week and a half or so. Go at lunchtime, when the Wellington on a Plate set lunch is on offer - at $25 for two courses and a glass of wine, it's incredibly good value. And, most importantly, it's good.

With last weekend being that glorious couple of days where Wellington on a Plate and the film festival overlap, I found myself hanging out around the Embassy theatre over much of Saturday and Sunday. And next door to the Embassy (actually, on the ground floor corner of the Embassy building) is, of course, Capitol. So it was an obvious choice for lunch when my dad and I had a couple hours to kill between film festival screenings.

If you're new to Wellington on a Plate set lunches, the way they generally work is this: you choose two courses from a list of starters, mains, and desserts, plus a glass of one or two Wellington region wines on offer. 

We started with pâté and soup. The pâté - made from free range chicken livers - was dreamily smooth, served with thin, chewy ciabatta toasts and a Wairarapa pear chutney.

The soup - Parkvale cap mushroom, lentil and herb, with Pandoro croutons - was simple and light, the excellent broth carrying the earthy mushroom flavour, the fresh herbs and clear broth making it feel bright and ready for spring.  

Both mains on the set menu are worth trying - this was the fried arrow squid with aioli and rocket. It's good: nice and simple, tasty, inoffensive; the aioli especially packs a garlicky punch.

But oh my god, the veal. So tender you could cut it with a fork, so perfectly seasoned, and the rich, savoury jus plus the creamy mashed potato and crispy shards of pancetta and fried sage: YES. This is the kind of dish you take one bite of and can't help but burst into a big, wide grin. It was incredibly good. 

Some restaurants participating in DINE Wellington will let you add on a third course for, say, an extra $10 or so. Unfortunately there was no such option at Capitol - not that we didn't try for the Wellington on a Plate dessert (lemon mousse with Lavender's Green syrup and baked rhubarb). And because we were there during Capitol's normal brunch hours, there wasn't a dessert menu to choose something sweet from.

Luckily there was this semolina pudding on the brunch menu, which really was more porridge-y than pudding-y, but hey, that's what you get for picking dessert from among sweet breakfast dishes. Anyway, the poached tamarillo it came topped with was beautiful: tart, and softly sweet, and the most sultry-red colour.

There's something really magical about sitting in a window seat at Capitol with a glass of wine in hand, the afternoon sun streaming in, making even a mid-winter day feel like a relaxed summer evening. The food was beautiful, the service good, the atmosphere wonderful. I don't know why I don't eat here more often, but I bet that's about to change. 

10 Kent Terrace
(04) 384 2855

Wellington on a Plate runs from 10 - 6 August 2012.

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