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IMG_0295I was over­joyed when I first heard that the Bresolin boys were tak­ing over the old Bodega: if any­one had the skills and repu­ta­tion to make a slightly fringe loc­a­tion suc­cess­ful, it was them. My only dis­ap­point­ment was that the ori­gin­al concept was a relo­cated Crazy Horse, and I doubted that an upmar­ket steak­house would attract the sort of live­li­ness that this stretch of Wil­lis Street des­per­ately needed.

But the concept evolved, and The Bresolin is far more eclect­ic and approach­able than I ini­tially expec­ted. It keeps Crazy Horse’s premi­um steaks for the cigar, suit and expense-account bri­gade, but adds Lor­etta-esque veget­able and grain dishes for the kale and quinoa con­tin­gent. They serve massive meaty feasts for large groups, à la Duke Carvell’s or El Mata­dor, and the now ubi­quit­ous bur­gers and fried chick­en to sat­is­fy the soul-food scenesters. There are fusion small plates to suit the quasi-fine din­ing ambi­ence upstairs, craft beer on tap to turn the court­yard into a garden bar, and take-away cof­fee and counter food for the 7am com­muters. Is it pos­sible to be all things to all diners?

I’ve pre­vi­ously enjoyed most of the cas­u­al options, and apart from some incon­sist­ency in the qual­ity of the fried chick­en, my exper­i­ences have ranged from sat­is­fact­ory to excel­lent. For this review, my guest and I decided to explore the more eleg­ant regions of their menu.

I’m a reg­u­lar by now, but the staff are just as cour­teous to every­one. That pro­fes­sion­al­ism rap­idly made up for the ini­tial con­fu­sion, when it took ten minutes before any­one could even tell us the wait for a table.

Even­tu­ally, we sat down to a gout-indu­cing combo of cala­mari and veal sweet­breads. The former were lightly crumbed, nicely seasoned and reas­on­ably tender, served on a Japan­ese-inspired bed of wakame, daikon, sweet may­on­naise and pickled cucum­ber. The lat­ter were impec­cably airy, with a tangy, crunchy salad of thin cel­ery and red onion slices. The accom­pa­ny­ing hot sauce almost over­whelmed the del­ic­ate sweet­breads, but some­how the salad’s blue cheese dress­ing tempered that. We also demol­ished a bowl of what may be the best fries in Wellington.

Then we shared $50 worth of Hawke’s Bay wagyu flank steak, served per­fectly rare. Wagyu’s repu­ta­tion rests more on its ten­der­ness (and, let’s be hon­est, its price) than on its taste. The flank cut has the oppos­ite qual­it­ies, bal­an­cing things out and res­ult­ing in meat that was silky without being melt­ing, with a dis­tinct but not intense beef fla­vour. The Bresolin’s grill added smoky over­tones, and the pro­vi­sion of horseradish and a wedge of lem­on helped enliven the dish.

We com­ple­men­ted the meat over­load with two veget­able dishes. One com­bined pearl bar­ley and black rice with cavolo nero and fried kale, which was sweetened with cur­rants and pine nuts. The oth­er was based on but­ter­nut pump­kin and heir­loom car­rots, their hearty tex­ture giv­en a tooth­some, pep­pery kick by almonds and rock­et, and enlivened by the sweet–sour fla­vours of a caper and rais­in dressing.

The small plates look inex­pens­ive, but rap­idly add up, though for us that was exacer­bated by cock­tails and the restaurant’s pen­ul­tim­ate bottle of 2009 Mount­ford Liais­on Pinot Noir. Roast feasts and high-priced steaks end up good value when shared, though that won’t help solo diners. Over­all, The Bresolin man­ages to be jack of all trades and mas­ter of most.



Address: 278 Wil­lis Street, Te Aro

Phone: 04 801 5152

Cost: Small plates $12–17; Feasts (for four or more people) $50–85

Open: Tue–Fri 7am–late, Sat–Sun 8am–late

Food: Eclect­ic

Drink: Par­rot­Dog Dead­Ca­nary $9.50 pint; Trapiche Mal­bec $8/glass, $46/bottle[/warning]