If you haven't been to the Larder yet this Wellington on a Plate and you're able to get to Miramar between now and Sunday (the last day of Wellington on a Plate until 2013, boo hoo), I suggest you do so as soon as possible. It's well worth a visit.
The Larder's DINE Wellington set lunch is $35 for two courses and a glass of wine. I highly suggest taking the option of adding a third course for an extra $10, too. If you've never eaten there (or you see the place as more of a brunch/coffee stop) this is a seriously good chance to get acquainted with chef Jacob Brown's food. The man is a genius - I had one of the better dinners of my life a few days after this lunch at a collaborative dinner by the Larder and all-around-awesome Wellington brewery Garage Project (but more on that later).
I could just say all of the food was seriously delicious and leave it at that, but here's a quick overview of this year's set lunch menu:
For starters, an heirloom beetroot, feta and shaved apple salad. Though the salad had less of a focus on the beetroot, feta and apple than I expected from the menu description (they were definitely present, but it was much more of a leafy salad than I thought it would be), it was still very good: thoughtfully put together, a mix of the aforementioned ingredients, crisp winter salad greens and a smattering of hazelnuts, with a clean, simple dressing that really let the salad components shine through.
Plus, in keeping with the Wellington on a Plate theme, the feta used here is locally-produced Zany Zeus, which just happens to be one of my favourite fetas ever: just salty and creamy enough. I use it in everything.
But before I get too carried away talking about the salad, let me get carried away talking about this soup: so simple, yet so many flavours and textures: creamy, earthy jerusalem artichoke soup topped with incredibly satisfyingly meaty confit rabbit (YES!), crunchy, almost-sweet hazelnuts and a chunky slice of crisp-chewy buttered ciabatta toast. The soup itself was like nothing I've ever had - I've had plenty of jerusalem artichoke soup in my time but nothing so dreamily light, both creamy and airy at the same time. I said this at the time, and I've said it to lots of people afterward, but I'll say it again: it was like eating a cloud. Dreamy.
Oh, and also: the rabbit. Man. I wish I could've taken a container of it home to eat with everything.
After the soup I could've left a happy woman, but no, there was this: pan-roasted fish with Wairarapa celeriac, Prana Sprouts baby herbs, Lot Eight citrus olive oil and mustard seeds.
Everything about this dish was perfectly executed: perfectly crispy skin (and skin-on fish tastes so much better, I reckon), impeccably cooked flesh, and the remoulade-like celeriac slaw hiding underneath the fish in that picture? Just wow. Crunchy and bursting with flavour and, just, um, wow.
I didn't end up getting a photo of the other main, so you'll just have to imagine it looking incredibly decadent and delicious, which it was: twelve-hour cooked lamb shoulder with roast cauliflower, spiced olives and wild watercress. Yes, it was as good as it sounds.
And, of course, dessert. By this time we were pretty stuffed but this isn't something you'd want to pass up: a dark chocolate parfait with milk chocolate mousse, preserved peaches and crème fraîche. I don't normally go for chocolate desserts but I did this time (mostly because it's the only dessert on the set menu) and boy, was I glad.
The mousse was dreamy, the peaches tasted like something out of my childhood, and I only wished there had been more crème fraîche because the cool, tangy, unsweet cream offset the richness of the mousse like it was the most obvious pairing in the world. At the risk of using the same imagery twice in one blog post, I'm going to say this: again, it was like eating a cloud.
So, I think that's all I need to say. Get yourself to the Larder. Get there soon, before Wellington on a Plate is over for another year. Bookings are advisable, especially if you're going on a weekend - it can get busy.
Corner Darlington and Camperdown Rd
04 891 0354
Visa Wellington on a Plate runs from 10-26 August 2012.