Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The miracle of grandparents: WBC restaurant review

These school holidays, my wonderful parents were wondering if the girls would, perhaps, like to fly down and stay with them for a week?  No one in our household needed to be asked twice – the girls were very excited about being Unaccompanied Minors, and we were quite keen to explore what a week without children could be like.  In a week bookended by southerly storms (and delayed flights) at one end and earthquakes at the other, the answer for us was *busy* (and we missed our girls, but they had a ball with their Granny and Papa)!

However, we were determined to get to the newest restaurant in town – WBC.  WBC is in the building of the former Wholesale Boot Company, and the food is, I’m happy to advise, melt-in-the-mouth delicious.

We arrived at the rather nondescript doorway on a cool winter evening, to see candles lighting the stairs.  On arrival upstairs, we were warmly greeted and taken to a table.  As with most restaurants in Wellington, they don’t take dinner bookings – on our wintry Wednesday evening, we arrived in time to get the last table at 7pm.  The room is long, with lovely large windows along one side and tables arranged the length of the room.  There is a bar that seats six (enough space to dine at the bar), with views into the kitchen where all the action is taking place.

The menu has a range of offerings and there are also lots of daily specials listed on brown butcher's paper as you come up the stairs.  There are starters and small dishes, mains and larger plates to share, along with veges and salads.  This creates options for creating a meal of the plates that you want and not being constrained by any expectation that you’ll follow a straight line though the menu.

The wine list covers the bases, with generally one option for each variety offered, including a mix of New Zealand and international wines.  All wines are available by the glass, giving the option of wine matching to each dish, if you wish.  There is a wide selection of spirits visible behind the bar, and I suspect that if it wasn’t a mid-week evening, we would have explored some cocktails to get us started.

The MOTH started his meal with a selection of oysters, which he was very happy with.  I opted for a small plate special of barbequed blue cod wings, with roasted red pepper and capers – these were delicious.  They had just the right amount of smoky flavour, balanced by the sweetness of the peppers and the salty tang of the capers.  The small plate provided enough for me to be happy enough to share one wing with the MOTH.

For our main, we took the chef’s recommendation of a special plate to share – groper steak.  Without a doubt, the best groper I have ever had – perfectly seared on the bone, lightly flavoured and melt-in-the-mouth delicious.  The flavour of the groper was the main event, enhanced but not overwhelmed by its light and buttery juices.  The groper came with two sides.  The first was a green salad with seaweed – simple, but surprisingly tasty, with the slightly salty seaweed and a good balance for the fish.  The second side was fresh peas, with tender green broad beans and garlic – perfectly complementing the fish and the salad.  We had also ordered hand cut chips – which rounded out the main course perfectly.

After a small pause to chat, we turned our attention to the dessert menu.  Predictably, I opted for the crème brulée, with poached rhubarb.  The crème brulée was perfect, and its little side dish of perfectly pink rhubarb was described by the MOTH as “like eating an orchid” – fragrant, lightly spiced and cooked to perfection.  In a departure from normal procedure (the MOTH is not a regular dessert eater), the MOTH chose banana doughnuts… and I have to say (as I don’t care for doughnuts), that these were a revelation – light and fluffy, with a delicious chocolate sauce.  I know what the girls would have had for dessert, if they’d been with us.
Overall, a lovely evening – attentive service, an interesting menu, wonderful food and delightful company.    Thanks WBC and the grandparents.

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