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Beefsteak & Burgundy Club of Tinakori at The White House Restaurant

By February 26, 2013No Comments
Owner and chef of The White House, Paul Hoather, has a wonderful reputation for creating and serving some of Wellington’s finest food. Since 1992, The White House has figured among the elite of dining establishments with renown throughout New Zealand and beyond. Paul is creative with classical food, using the finest local produce possible, and his adventurousness results in exciting, sometimes innovative, and always brilliantly presented and fabulously tasty dishes. The bonus is the location of The White House, with stunning views from Oriental Parade overlooking the harbour. The word around town among the restaurant and hospitality trade is that Paul Hoather and The White House are ‘white hot’ and it’s a must to dine at for the best experience. Thus it was a lunch-time treat for the members and guests of the Beefsteak & Burgundy Club of Tinakori. The White House lived up to its standing with its outstanding menu, the food and wine delivered with professionalism and aplomb by general manager and maître d’ Rob Scott and his attentive staff.  www.whr.co.nz
On Arrival
Winemaster, Dean Derwin of Centre City Wines revels in serving smart wines that are a little off-the-wall in one way or another. The first wine served blind was the Mills Reef Hawke’s Bay Methode Traditionnelle NV. This is a wine that is seldom seen in the trade, and thus its technical details were not revealed, but I understand it is 100% Chardonnay. A delightful, light and very accessible sparkler, I found it soft and simple with apple-like flavours, and showing very little bready-yeasty autolysis. The sweetness level was noticeable, contributing to its roundness and drinkability. Very fresh and clean, our table surmised it was a New Zealand Methode style. My guest, Sue Davies believed it was a North Island wine due to its soft nature and lower acidity. As an alternative, I proffered north-east Italian Prosecco as an alternative, though the sweetness was higher than most of these available. Most others guessed the wine to be a classier Marlborough sparkling. In the final analysis, an excellent, ideal start to the lunch.
The menu began with Bread, homemade cultured butter and organic sea salt, the bread light and airy, but crusty, perfect to line the stomach! Then an amuse bouche – a Truffled Macaroon, with a filling of Chicken liver parfait. This was an intriguing item, the sweetness of the macaroon biscuit an even contrast with the rich, savoury parfait, which pleasingly had the texture of the normal creamy filling. The wine tasted marginally sweeter with the parfait filling.
One of The White House classics was the entrée. Victor’s Rabbit Pie, textures of Otaki carrots is always a substantial food course. Perfect pastry with a hot and moist filling of rabbit and gravy, the flavours quite subtle and sweet. The carrot in its three forms offset the pie with its brightness, and the textures were solid in the boiled baby carrot to a sleek sliced and curled shaved disc and soft in puree style. A very satisfying dish.
The wine served was Gladstone Vineyard Gladstone Pinot Noir 2010. Showing a little age with garnet and hints of brick, the nose was rich and fulsome and the palate gently mouthfilling with flavours of savour red berry fruits, notes of dried herb, game and mushroom. Clearly Pinot Noir, this had fruit sweetness with tannins that were beginning to resolve, but plenty of alcohol power. The sweetness of fruit and fruitiness indicated New Zealand, and its savoury complexities and soft acidity led us to the Wairarapa. I felt the maturity of the wine made it a 2009, maybe even 2008 in vintage. In general, the wine was believed to be a Marlborough or Central Otago Pinot Noir. The wine’s flavours held their own with the pie, and there was plenty of body in the wine to work with the pie pasty and rabbit meaty cubes. Being sweet rather than earthy, the carrots gave a delicate piquant contrast to the wine.
Palate Cleanser
Between the entrée and main was a palate cleanser, Mandarin jelly, citrus foam, raspberry powder. Soft jelly textures with sweetness and acidity, merging with the fluffy foam, this reset the palate in a positive and flavour-packed way, rather than leaving it neutral and plain.
Presentation can make or break a dish, and the Pirinoa Station lamb rack, peas, black and white garlic, gemolata was sensational. The lamb rack, cooked perfect pink was coated with striking green pea dust, matching and bridging the pureed pea on the plate. The gremolata was subtle with its herbiness, more vegetable in character, thus meeting the pea, and providing a fresh aside to the textural lamb.
The accompanying wine confounded most of the diners. The Kennedy Point Waiheke Island Syrah 2008 was black red colour with intense, ripe black fruit aromas and flavours. Ripe currant and herb elements suggested a Cabernet Sauvignon component, and the brisk, underlying acidity supported this assumption. Plenty of oak spicing was present, matching the power, depth and drive of the fruit. Concentration and fine, dusty tannin grip stood out. It was an easy call to go to New Zealand again from its freshness and subtle herb notes. Cabernet Sauvignon was the choice, with some Merlot seemed to be obvious, and we thought the origin North Island, most likely Hawke’s Bay, but not Gimblett Gravels, due to the fruitiness rather than iron-earth density. Vintage around 2008, possibly a lighter 2009. Most other tables went this way, except for one diner who picked it as Hawke’s Bay Syrah. He was a clever man and closest to the truth! Admittedly, as the wine sat in the glass, more spice and pepper notes emerged, but not enough to change my mind. The wine was a very good match with the lamb, though the youth of the wine was exerted in the dark fruit flavours. Weight for weight and texturally, the two were even and very workable, the herb and pea picking up on the curranty wine nuances.
To Finish
Little treats in the form of Cinnamon cream oysters and shortbread completed the meal. Little cinnamon sponge cakes baked in the shape of oysters, shell opened, filled with cream, and shortbread biscuit sandwiching raspberry jam, both sweetened the palate, drawing a superb lunch to a close. This was an outstanding meal from Paul Hoather and his staff, with variety, quality, substance and stunning presentation.

The White House Restaurant, Upstairs 232 Oriental Parade, Wellington, Tel: 04 385-8555, Email: [email protected]

The Beefsteak & Burgundy Club

The Beefsteak & Burgundy Club organization was founded in Adelaide in 1954 with the aim of its members sharing knowledge and experiencing great wines and food and fellowship on a regular basis. With over 150 branches around the world in countries as diverse as Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.A., it is an international success. In New Zealand there are ten branches, with five located in Wellington. The meetings are run on a semi-formal basis, with officers and committee including a Foodmaster and Winemaster who co-ordinate the meals and wines respectively. The Adelaide parent body oversees administration and maintains a constitution to provide a framework and uniformity, but it is a relaxed and enjoyable time attending the meetings and the occasional international conventions. For more information, go to www.beefsteakandburgundyclub.org.au where you can find out about joining an existing club or forming a new branch.

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