Photographs: David Straight
You might be familiar with the Matterhorn in Wellington: a restaurant that took a strange little coffee lounge and turned it into a legend. It feels like a bar where anything could happen and that might be kind of dangerous. Auckland’s version opened a couple of months back in a big beautiful bricky warehouse that used to be Libertine in Victoria Park.
The food is really good. (Just don’t bother if you’re vegetarian – there’s a lot of meat.) We loved a recent starter of salted cod with a bantam egg and Spanish ham ($20) – the egg bled all over the cod and the ham. The duck Wellington ($22) is a dish of singular genius – perfectly flaky pastry with perfectly medium rare duck: a classic, beautifully tweaked. The plate of pig ($34) is a fabulous combination of flavours and textures – salty blood pudding, unctuous roasted pork belly, crackling and a beautiful pork and fennel sausage, served with sour cabbage and quince. It could be a mess: it isn’t. The lamb rump with curried sweetbreads and cauliflower ($34) was a rare misstep: beautifully cooked, but somehow not tied together, and we’ve also eaten the snapper with a scampi roll, charred lettuce hears and umami broth, which was beautifully cooked, though we couldn’t find the broth. Dessert: recently we had a plate of figs with white chocolate, candied brioche, licorice and tobacco ice cream – complex and almost slightly savoury.
They call it “fine dining with your shoes off” and the service is good – they’re happy to talk you through the menu at great length, which we like, and the wine matches are excellent – but you don’t feel like you’ve walked into the middle of something exciting. It’s tucked away in Victoria Park, for a start – rather than raucous Cuba Street, but there’s also a limited beer list exclusively featuring Lion brands, and while the fitout is nice, it verges on the pan-industrial, which we’ve seen a lot of lately. In short, it’s a restaurant that hasn’t yet found its zing. Which is a shame, because we do like the plate of pig. SFG
HOURS Monday to Saturday, 3pm until late; Sunday 1pm until late.
ADDRESS 37 Drake Street, Victoria Park. matterhorn.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS There’s a very large, quite lovely private room. Go on.