Skip to main content

IMG_3281In the day­time, The Larder’s plain decor and food cab­in­ets suit its descrip­tion as a diner or cof­fee shop, but after dark it has lofti­er ambi­tions. After all, few cof­fee shops start the meal with an amuse-bouche, but we were served demi­tasses of sweet­corn soup with pars­ley-infused olive oil. The emphas­is was on ‘sweet’, though the her­bed oil cut through and helped whet rather than dull the appetite.

Chef Jac­ob Brown advoc­ates ‘nose-to-tail’ din­ing, but those spe­cif­ic body parts were off the menu that night, so it was more about brain-to-loin. My com­pan­ion star­ted in the middle with smoked duck breast. This del­ic­ate assemblage used the crisp sweet­ness of nec­tar­ine and the bit­ter­ness of torn radic­chio to bring out the smoki­ness of the per­fectly pink duck.

For my entrée I chose twice-cooked goat’s cheese and Gruy­ere soufflé with white truffle oil and chives. This was risky, since truffle oil is to fresh truffles what 50 Shades of Grey is to real BDSM: an over­ex­posed trav­esty of com­plex pleas­ures. Fresh truffles exude a tran­scend­ent fra­grance, evok­ing the bucol­ic car­nal divin­ity of a bac­chanal in a Tuscan forest amid del­ic­ate autum­nal rain, while black truffle oil has all the sub­tlety of a Lynx-and-bour­bon-fuelled knee-trem­bler in the cubicle of a Cour­tenay Place bar. In this case, the white truffle oil was used so judi­ciously that it was barely notice­able, though without it the dish would have lacked cohe­sion: it bound the cheese and herb fla­vours togeth­er with a silken rope.

For her main, my date gorged on a com­bin­a­tion of por­cini-crus­ted beef fil­let and slow-cooked cheek with spin­ach. The pun­gency of the mush­room and accom­pa­ny­ing horseradish countered the slightly metal­lic spin­ach, and the cheek was out­stand­ing, com­bin­ing intense beefi­ness with a lus­ciously melt­ing texture.

I chose the Nor­d­ic-sound­ing elk cut­lets and loin with pickled rasp­ber­ries and beet­root purée. The cut­lets’ seared crust was salti­er than a drunk­en sail­or play­ing dirty Scrabble, which would have been excess­ive for some, but for halo­philes like us, it was addict­ive. Sweet­breads and golden beet­root added gentle tex­tur­al and fla­vour con­trasts, and with a side of roast pota­toes, sage and black olives, the mains were pleas­antly filling.

While ini­tially unwill­ing to sug­gest a wine to com­ple­ment the sweetly meaty mains, our wait­ress returned with advice from her seni­ors to try the unfa­mil­i­ar Boutari Agior­gitiko Nemea 2008. It was a glor­i­ous match, with a rich and almost porty sweet­ness, but just enough tan­nin back­bone to tackle the meat.

To fin­ish, the crema catalana had a text­book crunch, reveal­ing soft cus­tard with a cit­rus and cin­na­mon zing that set it apart from the typ­ic­al bland­ness of crème brûlée. The accom­pa­ny­ing churros and warm chocol­ate sauce were tasty if unex­cep­tion­al. We also tried the more adven­tur­ous com­bin­a­tion of roas­ted hay par­fait with cam­o­mile, glisten­ing fresh ber­ries and crunchy slabs of hay meringue. The hay was subtly effect­ive: a limbic evoc­a­tion of hazy, sum­mery coun­try air.

Miramar has eclipsed Mt Vic­tor­ia as the main home of Wellington’s Greek com­munity, and The Lar­der was run­ning a spe­cial Greek menu at the time. We kept to the stand­ard menu, but it was def­in­itely in the spir­it of Epi­cur­us. Des­pite the sur­round­ings being more Sparta than Sybar­is, they provide a treat for the brain and the loin as well as the tongue and the stomach.



Address: 133 Dar­ling­ton Road, Miramar

Phone: 04 891 0354

Cost: Entrées $17–22; mains $35–38

Open: Tue–Sat 8am–3pm, Sun 9am–3pm; din­ner Thu–Sat 6pm–late

Food: Nose-to-tail dining

Drink: Pan­head Super Char­ger APA $10; Jim Barry The Cov­er Drive Caber­net Sauvign­on $13/glass, $52/bottle[/warning]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.